Spend a few minutes with vendor Rachel Reynolds and you’ll learn that she loves the state of Montana, enough that she named her new service dog after her favorite place in the state: Libby, Montana, an integral part of Rachel’s childhood.
Libby and Rachel are inseparable. The sprightly Chihuahua-terrier puppy is Rachel’s third service animal.
A native Seattleite, Rachel spent her summers and holidays in Montana. Her mom’s side of the family hails from the state, and Rachel relishes the time she spent there growing up.
“My mom would travel in her Volkswagen with four kids,” to visit Rachel’s grandmother and uncle.
“I was born in Spokane, Washington. There’s roots in Montana. My mom lived in Libby, and Seattle was where I grew up. We would go to Montana every year, every summer, to visit my grandmother and my uncle and stuff and then my uncle, before he passed away, he introduced my stepdad to my mom.”
Rachel particularly enjoyed spending the Fourth of July there with friends and family.
But she also enjoyed Seattle as a child, and recalls fond memories of the Smith Tower, where she likes to sell the paper today.
“When I was a little girl … I saw the Smith Tower so pure and white, and I fell in love with the Smith Tower, and I’ve been up there once or twice. It’s an amazing building, the Smith Tower, it’s just — I really like the Smith Tower and there’s so much history there.”
Standing at the base of the tower, Rachel loves getting to know the people who walk around Pioneer Square. She said people recognize her, selling with her disability badge. Seattle’s sit/lie ordinance does not allow people to sit on sidewalks, but vendors with a disability badge can while selling the paper.
While she’s not selling Real Change, Rachel likes to do crafts or practice her balloon animal-making for when she performs as a clown. She also likes to spend time training Libby — “she’s come a long way since I’d had her for a week” — as well as advocating for people with disabilities and service dogs.
Rachel became a vendor because she wanted to get involved with Real Change: “to tell people about the seriousness of homelessness, all the services cut, that people need, and it’s sad because over the years I have to fight for what I need but … Real Change, you guys are activists.”
She appreciated that Real Change cares about people. She published a poem in Real Change in December titled “12 Days of Homelessness at Christmas.”
“It got in the paper; it meant a lot to me, and I like to do stories about homelessness.”
Full of passion, Rachel wants the readers of Real Change “to know, that people out there that I just want to bring joy when I sell the papers and talking to the customers, because there’s lonely people out there. And I’m not the only one who’s going through a hard time, there are always [people] going through a hard time.”