By Sarah Ford
For new Vendor Coordinator Gretchen Crowe, coming back to the VOICE is coming home. Gretchen joined VOICE staff in March, replacing former Program Coordinator Linette Hidalgo. However, this isn’t the first time she’s sat at the front desk.
“The first thing I noticed was how many reunions [there were]…how many people that are part of the program I still knew. And how wonderful it was to see the program work for people over time, because that’s what it’s supposed to do,” Gretchen says of her return.
Gretchen filled the same position from the time the VOICE was re-started in 2008 until 2011. When she started, the VOICE was housed in a small office and sharing space with Sox Place. With Gretchen’s help, the program grew to include hundreds of vendors and became a staple in the Denver community recognized by local businesses and community members.
Under Gretchen, the VOICE was also recognized for the Best Vendor Program by the now-defunct North American Street Newspaper Association. But one of the things Gretchen says she is proudest of is the 33 vendor profiles she wrote, all of which she now keeps carefully preserved in a binder.
With a history of so much passion and involvement, Gretchen says it wasn’t a hard decision to come back to the VOICE.
“Prior to this job opening up, I had already become self-reflective to see what made me happy, and it just kept coming back that I need to work with this population. It’s just kind of a calling,” she says.
Gretchen had been stuck frequently bedridden and unable to work outside of her home for more than a year while battling late-stage Lyme Disease.
“This is a lifelong journey,” she says of late-stage Lyme Disease. “And there is such a lack of adequate testing.”
While she still battles the illness, she recently became stable enough to work away from home again in a limited capacity. Then, she got the call about the position at the VOICE.
While Gretchen is thrilled to reunite with many vendors, including some she has kept in touch with during her years of absence, she hopes to help start some new relationships, as well.
“One thing I would like to see change are vendor faces,” she says. “I think we have room for the family, so to speak, to grow.” ■