There’s no better time to see what Real Change is all about than on a Wednesday morning. Our doors open at 8 a.m. The coffee is hot. Soon the vendor lobby and computer lab are filled.
Announcements come at 8:20. Come to the Editorial Committee meeting. We want your ideas. There will be lunch.
Our Advocacy Committee meets every second Tuesday. Use your voice. The monthly vendor meeting is coming up. Vote for vendors of the year. The Vendor Advisory Board has organized a barbecue. Come celebrate our community.
There are lots of ways to get involved. You are invited in.
Then editorial runs the vendors through the week’s headlines. The evening before, our news team uploaded the latest issue to the printer. Sometime in the dead of night, a digital file got turned into a newspaper.
It’s the minor miracle that happens every week. Twenty-three years and there is always a paper on Wednesday morning.
After the week’s headlines, our organizer takes the floor. We’re looking for more Speakers Bureau people. Here’s a training and a chance to make extra money. We’re going to a hearing at City Hall and looking for testimony. Here’s some legislation we’re supporting, and some leaflets to give your customers. When we fight, we win.
Then at 8:30, a human chain forms to move 11,000 to 12,000 newspapers from the delivery van to our shelves. Two or three bundles of 100 papers at a time.
A second window opens at the vendor desk to get people out the door as fast as possible. Everyone wants to get to their customers first.
That’s you. Real Change supporters put more than $1 million directly into the hands of our vendors every year.
Every year more than 1,800 people contribute financially to our work. Through your daily generosity, you make our vendors’ success possible.
Before Wednesday is over, more than 150 vendors will be in for their papers. Every month Real Change provides work and community to about 325 active vendors.
This is how our mission — providing opportunity and a voice to low-income and homeless people while taking action for economic, social and racial justice — comes to life every day.
Since mid-May, nearly 200 readers have contributed more than $86,000 to the Real Change Summer Fund Drive.
During the last week of the fund drive, please help us close the gap to our $120,000 goal with your gift today. Your support makes everything we do possible and funds more than 60 percent of our work.
If you’d like to see the profound difference Real Change can make in one person’s life, please take a moment to watch Donald Morehead’s video at our giving page.
When Donald first came to Seattle 17 years ago, he was broke, homeless, suffered from PTSD from a life of trauma and was self-medicating to get through the day.
Real Change met Donald where he was at. During his first year in Seattle, he lived in his tent, snuggled in a cave dug high into a Queen Anne hillside, got his showers at a nearby shelter and earned money to survive by selling our paper.
Over time the daily contact with customers helped Donald to connect with others. Real Change was the beginning of the road to recovery.
Now Donald is in permanent housing, nearly four years sober and runs the Real Change vendor orientation.
While Donald’s disability still keeps him from regular work, he now gives back every week by helping other vendors succeed.
In times like this, when the progress of recent years is threatened by racist backlash to Barack Obama’s presidency, your support of our work means that people like Donald have a chance to help themselves and others.
A chance to survive. To find work that offers dignity and hope. To find community. To begin the path to stability and recovery that begins with self-love.
Donald has turned a life of struggle and pain into a gift to others.
Your support of our work changes lives everyday by creating hope and opportunity for the most poor. Please be the change you want to see by making your gift to our Summer Fund Drive today. Your strong reader support makes it all possible.
Tim Harris is the founding Director Real Change and has been active as a poor people’s organizer for more than two decades. Prior to moving to Seattle in 1994, Harris founded the Spare Change homeless newspaper in Boston in 1992 while working as Executive Director of Boston Jobs with Peace.
Wait there's more. Check out articles in the full July 26 issue.