Vendor of the Week
Vendor Profile: Sheila
Nine years ago, Sheila gave herself a birthday present: “I was bored out of my mind, so I said, ‘I’m going to go down to Real Change and get me a badge.’ ”
“My mom used to say that I’m not going to let grass grow under my feet. As long as I can walk, I want to be doing something. If I didn’t have [Real Change] to do, I would probably go crazy. And financially it’s been a big help.”
A hair stylist by trade, Sheila made her way by “entrepreneuring.” She used to braid hair. Cooking was her other specialty.
“Cooks run in my family. If people had barbecues, they would want me to oversee the cooking. In the summertime I still host barbecues, birthday parties, serving chicken, ribs, you name it.”
Sheila learned to cook from her mom, who died six years ago. “We were really tight. Holidays are real hard for me because we were always in the kitchen together.”
“One of my mom’s dying wishes was that we all stick together and keep family traditions going.” With two brothers and two sisters in the area, three more siblings out of state, a number of nieces and nephews, and two sons and two grandchildren, sticking with family isn’t hard. “I spend a lot of time with them. I’ll watch my [seven-month-old] granddaughter three days a week. I go out to the malls with my sister-in-law or brother-in-law. I love it. It helps me because I miss my mom so much.”
Sheila spends a lot of time talking with her customers, too, and she’s proud they’re on a first-name basis. “Some of them pray for me. Some ask me where I’m from. Some of them vent to me. This one guy, John, he’s my buddy. It’s always ‘that damn boss of mine, Sheila…’ There’s a cop, we always talk about health issues. This one lady, she talks about God, asks me what’s my view on spirituality. She’s real humorous, so we’ll be laughing about things. They [always] give me that option to say, ‘I don’t want to talk about it.’”
Sheila’s advice to someone starting out with Real Change is “be respectable. Keep an uplifting attitude. It can be ‘arggh.’ You never know how the money’s going to flow. Just keep a good, positive attitude. This one lady walked past, [I said] ‘Would you like an issue of Real Change today?’ [She said], ‘No, thank you.’ ”
Instead of feeling down, Sheila smiled and told herself it was going to be all right.
It made a difference. “She came back and gave me a twenty dollar bill: ‘This is for your smile.’ ”
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