Sherrie Coleman shields chrildren from traffic and offers upbeat messages to pedestrians.
Sherrie Coleman’s official job is to shepherd grade school students across the multiple lanes of Exposition Boulevard on school mornings for the City of Los Angeles and its Department of Transportation. But as she waves and greets pedestrians on their way into campus, it’s clear she has a second responsibility – starting Trojans off with a smile.
Her cheery messages are simple. “Have a wonderful day!” “You have a beautiful smile!” “Have a blessed day!” “Good morning!” “You have a wonderful smile!”
Coleman delivers each line with a wave and a smile of her own, no matter what the response. “I love to see people smile,” she said. “When people smile, it just gives them a natural glow.”
And those pedestrians who look down or frown? “I especially praise those that don’t speak back,” she said. “I can’t help it. I have to. I’m just being obedient to the Lord, treating people the way I want to be treated.”
Jeep Hauser, who has worked at USC for 11 years, strode by, waved and smiled at Coleman and then circled back to give an unsolicited endorsement.
“She’s the best part of every day,” opined Hauser, the director of information technology and communications at the USC Career Planning Placement Center.
The mother of six and grandmother of five grew up in the neighborhood, graduating from Dorsey High. Her husband Eddie died in 2001. She took this job two years ago.
When she’s not ushering children across traffic, she sits and reads her well-worn Bible. She’s also a minister at Golden Rule Baptist Church at 54th Street and 4th Avenue. When selecting what book of the Bible to read, she doesn’t move in an orderly progression from Old Testament to New. “Wherever I’m led to go, I read,” she said.
Sometimes, Coleman brings crackers and bread to feed a few pigeon regulars who know her schedule and wait expectantly next to her chair. When Coleman thinks they need a better treat, she’ll bring them birdseed.
Sitting on the corner, Coleman receives gifts of her own.
“Children will bring me candy on Valentine’s Day or ice cream. They’re sweet,” Coleman said. “And people from USC have brought me flowers and one time when it was raining, an umbrella. I’m blessed.”