In 2014, Brittany Langmeyer joined us here at FlexManage as our Digital Marketing Specialist, responsible for managing our website, keeping up on a riveting blog content calendar, performing all graphic design duties, managing our social media channels, and many more digitally-related projects. She’s our “Swiss Army Knife” of digital communications.
But let’s flashback to 2008, when Brittany was still a budding undergraduate studying journalism at Loyola University Chicago. “I have always loved writing, and so I knew that was going to be the foundation of my career,” explained Brittany. “I was at a point in my education where I needed to begin my first internship. And during some of my journalism courses, I had the pleasure of writing pieces about social justice. And I realized the power in these types of stories – stories that gave life to a social cause or a human rights movement. I discovered that my writing could have a deeper meaning and that I could use my craft to make an impact.”
And so she did just that. Professor John Slania, Associate Dean of Loyola’s School of Communications, suggested that she’d be the perfect fit for an internship at StreetWise, where she could become an editorial intern and write stories for StreetWise Magazine. She applied and received the position for the summer of 2008.
StreetWise (as Brittany soon discovered) is an incredibly unique nonprofit. Their mission is “to empower the entrepreneurial spirit through the dignity of self-employment by providing Chicagoans facing homelessness with a combination of supportive social services, workforce development resources, and immediate access to gainful employment.”
At its core, StreetWise is a workforce development agency designed to help the homeless and those at risk of homelessness out of the crisis of poverty. The StreetWise model combines supportive social services, (focused on employment training; housing placement; and financial literacy) with the opportunity for gainful self-employment through the sale of StreetWise Magazine.
And while StreetWise Magazine is an undoubtedly special publication, it’s part of a larger global mission. StreetWise is among the largest “street papers” in the United States and is a member of the International Network of Street Papers (INSP). INSP is an organization that is made up of 110 street papers in 35 countries, published in 24 languages and serves as a solution to homelessness and unemployment.
The one thing Brittany made sure to emphasize is that StreetWise vendors are entrepreneurs. “StreetWise vendors have to actually buy the magazine from StreetWise. They pay $0.90 and sell the magazine for $2, making $1.10 off of each sale,” said Brittany. “So they have to budget their money, track sales, and then market themselves and build clientele at an assigned location. It takes a lot of hard work and long hours in order to be successful. I just want people to know, whether they realize it or not, that StreetWise vendors work incredibly hard.”
Brittany continued to intern summer after summer until she graduated in 2011. After graduation, her dedication to StreetWise turned into full-time employment and she was hired as the Director of Design & Production, responsible for designing StreetWise Magazine.
“I really feel like StreetWise has helped make me into the person I am today,” Brittany said. “The StreetWise vendors would share stories about their struggles and their lives and their families. I had such special relationships with so many of them. They’d remember my birthday, check in on me or ask about my family. It felt like I was always surrounded by family. They were (and in many ways, still are) my StreetWise family. They’re a part of me that will always be there.”