"I came here 10 years ago on a Greyhound bus," Nikki tells me. "It took three days."
Hailing from New York City, Nikki made the long trip across the country expecting to settle into Seattle with ease. She worked a few different jobs here and there, but something still didn't feel quite right. Whether she knew it or not at the time, Nikki was on the brink of a major ground shift.
"I had a breakdown," she says matter-of-factly.
And anyone who's been there knows how serious a toll that can have on a person's daily routine, relationships, and nearly every other facet of their life. Overwhelmed and incapacitated, Nikki applied for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), which she continues to receive today. "I couldn't work, so I got on social services," she says.
After taking some time to recover and attain some more stability, Nikki was ready to start working again. And then, perhaps coincidentally, she stumbled upon Real Change.
90-second video interview with Nikki, by Alex Becker, Real Change Intrn & Contributing Writer.
"I didn't just want to waste my days," she explains, "so I thought selling the paper would be something really good [to do]."
Now you can find her selling Real Change several days a week during lunchtime near the Taco Del Mar at First and Blanchard, where she has a regular customer base.
The work helps Nikki stay busy and make some money to supplement her SSI. "It helps me to buy cat food and whatever else I need," she explains, "and I enjoy myself at the same time."
And for her customers: "I look forward to seeing them.... Even if they don't buy a paper, they still have a smile for me."