I like to work with the people," Robert tells me.
And it shows. During our interview he makes it a point to greet nearly every passerby, many of whom he knows by first name.
"He's an architect," he says of one man. "And she's an attorney."
A friendly and familiar face in Pioneer Square, Robert has a relationship with his customers that extends far beyond simply selling the paper. He's been to people's homes and offices as both a guest and a worker -- doing everything from landscaping to dog walking.
And that's not all. In 2004, he scored an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C., to attend the opening of the National Museum of the American Indian, the first national museum in the country dedicated exclusively to Native Americans. Betty David, a well respected Northwest Indian artist and designer of traditional shearling coats, paid for the trip. She worked in Pioneer Square, and frequently hired Robert for help with various tasks.
Robert remembers the experience to this day. "She wanted me to keep my heritage," he tells me, speaking of her recent passing. "She will always [have] a special meaning in my heart."
Robert was on the streets for 10 years before selling Real Change for the first time, roughly six years ago. Now he has an apartment on Lower Capitol Hill, is in a happy relationship, and has made many friends.
"I went through a real hard time in my life," Robert reflects, "but the Lord's always made sure I got my blessings."
You can find Robert selling the paper near First and Yesler. To his customers, he says: "Thank you very much for your support. I believe that people who come into your life help shape your life too... and I appreciate it more than you know."