Vendor of the Week
Vendor Profile: Susan Ford
For as long as she can remember, Susan Ford has drawn on a source of inspiration:
“I like people, and the versatility of everybody I meet. That’s why I keep doing Real Change, because I meet so many neat people.”
Susan first started selling Real Change seven years ago. For three of those seven years, she was homeless. A long-time vendor named Robert turned her on to the program. “I used to buy papers from him. We became good friends. He got me to become one of the first women Vendor Representatives, too.”
Before selling the paper, Susan worked “security for rock concerts and games and stuff. Country singers, I’ve seen everybody.” The work wasn’t steady, but “it was fun. I got to go backstage and work for some country singer [Keith Urban], the one that’s married to Nicole Kidman. I [also] went out of town to a couple of the college hockey games, to Portland, until [the security contractor] went out of business.”
In her first career, Susan worked as a health care professional. “I started when pay wasn’t even two dollars an hour. I did nurse’s aide work, and then I worked in rehab, OT [occupational therapy] and PT [physical therapy]. I got kind of burned out after twenty-five years.” Even still, she’d like to go back to school to learn how to draw blood.
Susan’s family moved to Seattle from Spokane when she was 7. Now, she lives with and takes care of her mother, which isn’t always easy. “Just making sure she’s OK, making sure she eats, cooking for her. I didn’t want to see [her] go into a nursing home. It’s very stressful.” But, as usual, Susan sees the positive side of the experience as well. “It is [fun] ‘cause she feels better; she’s not as grumpy as she used to be. She’s even come to a different way of thinking. She says, ‘All those years of you telling me not to do this: see? It’s working.’”
Susan says that selling Real Change has given her back her confidence. “It’s made me feel better about myself. It gives me a little bit of extra money, [but] it’s not really about the money with me. I have fun doing it. I’m always in a good mood.”
And, of course, her relationships with her customers are a huge draw. “[My customers] are like friends. I mean, we just talk about everything: current events, sports. I’ve had a lot of conversations with people about homelessness, and I’ve changed a lot of people’s thinking about how homelessness really is. I talked to somebody one time for about an hour, and they go, ‘You know, you really changed my perspective on homelessness. It’s not how I thought it was at all.’ They were saying that it kind of gets drilled into you that [people who have experienced homelessness are] this certain way.”
Susan believes selling Real Change is all about being yourself and having fun. “Go out there and don’t give up”, she says. “It builds confidence in you, and it makes you feel good about yourself.”
Commenting is not available in this channel entry.