Our vendors: Rooster Tinch (Toledo Streets, Toledo, USA)

It was a rainy Monday afternoon when Shaun “Rooster” Tinch finally acknowledged that he understood exactly why we work hard every day to help people feel looked after here at Toledo Streets. I explained to him that he is family and cared for here. He smiled back at me and said, “I know that now.”

Rooster started with Toledo Streets in mid-March last year. He has always been polite and honest with us. I have watched him go from keeping to himself to becoming an integral member of the team. Not only has he started making connections within the Toledo Streets family, but he has quickly figured out how to be an effective salesman. Rooster was our number two top grossing salesman [the week before this piece was written]. He enjoys making up jingles to entice people to buy his papers and frequently tries his new jingles out on me. However, he says that one of the keys to success is always telling people to have a good day, whether or not they buy a paper from him.

My favourite memory of Rooster was when he got his bike. We’ve partnered with Lt. Clark from the Toledo Fire Department and Toledo Bike Shop to provide reconditioned bicycles to our vendors. When our director, John Keegan, approached Rooster after a meeting and explained that we’d been able to get him a bike, his first reaction was “You have to be kidding!” John assured Rooster that he wasn’t. The pure elation on Rooster’s face was something I will never forget. He came in later that day and explained that he was able to get from his usual selling spot back to the office in five minutes when it used to take him close to half an hour. He was beaming as he explained that the whole city was now within reach for sales and that he no longer had to rely on public transportation. He stated that it gave him a whole new sense of freedom, which was something he had been craving for so long.

Rooster’s main goal is to gain employment and find a stable place to live. He has come into the office several times after job interviews, reporting that he has been turned away from employment – again. He is often denied work because of his background check, even though the incident occurred over 25 years ago, and he has served his time. But the constant denials do not deter him. He explains that he shows up to every interview and meeting, even the ones at which he knows he is unlikely to be considered for the position. Rooster says that he will continue to show up and apply until something comes up, even though he feels discouraged sometimes. He wants to find a job and has assured us that he also wants to continue to sell papers on the side. He shared the fact that he loves selling papers – and loves being part of the family here at Toledo Streets.

Ever since I met Rooster, I have fallen in love with his character and strong sense of conviction. He explained to me that he lives by the following five maxims every day – and it shows:

Stay true to your word. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Also, don’t gossip about people.

Don’t take things personally. You never know what someone else is going through and what they are doing likely has nothing to do with you.

Don’t assume anything. Clear communication avoids hurt feelings and misunderstandings.

Do your best. Some days you aren’t going to do as well as other days, but as long as you are doing your best that is all that matters.

Listen to people – but take everything they have to say with a grain of salt. Everyone is coming from somewhere and you need to be wary of their intentions.

We feel lucky to have Rooster as part of the team. We also know that if he sticks to his commitments to himself then he will reach his goals. We will be behind him every step of the way.