Michael Dotts came to Seattle seven years ago with a plan to change his life. “I come from Illinois, East St. Louis, and I was in a lot of gang activities. They almost killed me one day.”
But turning his life around hasn’t been easy. There have been mistakes, setbacks and barriers. There have been classes to take and hoops to jump through. There have been good things too: a partner, kids to raise, being part of a family.
“I got a new baby. She’ll be one year old next week, and I’m trying to make sure I get enough money to get her something. I got another baby birthday coming up. I got a 4-year-old, a 7-year-old. I’m just trying to be a good dad.”
Lately there have been more setbacks. “I got in a car accident. I’m still going to physical therapy. Then I got in another car accident in December. I’m still waiting on the money from them. They were supposed to pay me on the 19th of July, but they still haven’t.”
But that wasn’t all of it. One day when Michael was done selling Real Change, “I got home and I see my kids’ mother. She was like, ‘You’re not acting the same,’ and I didn’t even realize it. The ambulance came and took me to the hospital, and that’s when they told me I was having a massive stroke.”
Michael was in the hospital for a month. “After the stroke, I’m having to learn myself all over again. Some days I just wake up, I just don’t even feel like getting out. I feel like I’m nothing. But I go get me some papers. I go meet somebody, and they tell me that they’re proud of me standing out there selling papers and doing something constructive. And that’s what gets me by.”
Having the stroke has made him take stock.
“I’m finding things about myself I don’t like. I’ve been working on those things, going to AA classes and just trying to stay away from the drugs. Because you feel like you got nothing else to lose. I’ve been doing pretty good, and I’m just glad and thankful for that.”
He’s thinking it’s time to do something besides selling Real Change. “I love vending. Vending is a good job for anybody that’s been trying to do something, but I been doing it for now 6, 7 years. I’m just ready to do something different. I’m 39 years old, about to be 40. I got about 10 months to get it together.”
“I’m still waiting on my [insurance] money and then I’m trying to open me a little business, cutting grass or washing cars, just something for me to do every day and stay constructive. I’m still going to sell Real Change too.”
“I like selling Real Change because when I see people going through what I’m going through, I’m not alone. It’s hard out here for everybody. We all can work together and make it work.”
Michael is one of 300 active vendors selling Real Change. Each week a different vendor is featured. View previous Vendor Profiles.
Wait, there's more. Check out articles in the full September 6 issue.
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