December 25, 2013
Vol: 20 No: 52

Community & Editorial

Your support during our year-end fund drive will make next year our best ever

by: Timothy Harris , Executive Director

Addis Michael by Derek Gundy

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When one of Addis Michael’s regular downtown customers saw the Real Change Portrait Project painting of his favorite vendor, he got in touch with artist Derek Gundy to see if the work had a price.

Gundy said, “How about this? You can have the painting for $300. Half goes to Addis, and half goes to Real Change?”

The customer made a counteroffer. “How about $400? Then Addis can get $150, and we give the $250 match amount to the Real Change Winter Fund Drive?”

Sold.

The portrait project, which began with just a handful of artists committing to paint a vendor for a show at Bremerton’s Coffee Oasis, has taken on a remarkable life of its own, with new artists committing almost daily to join the project. The show, which already has more than 15 pieces, has moved to the Coffee Oasis in Poulsbo, and we are now making plans for Seattle and beyond.

Thinking about it, the success of the concept shouldn’t have been a surprise. Whenever I talk to Real Change readers, what always lights them up, in addition to the quality journalism and the advocacy, is the specific vendor that they know and care about. 

And when I talk to our vendors, they nearly always say that their benefit is more from the people than the money.  That getting out there and being a part of a community gives their lives purpose and meaning.

We’re all the same. Work and community are what make life worthwhile.  Real Change makes this possible for those who have often been excluded from what makes us whole.

In the last week of the Winter Fund Drive, we’re still $73,323 away from meeting our critical $160,000 goal. 

Your year-end gift is an investment in opportunity and a voice for homeless and low-income people. It buys you another year of quality, progressive journalism. It supports courageous activism that takes on radical inequality and works for justice.

As Real Change heads into our 20th year, we have so much going on it’s hard to know where to even begin.

We’ve expanded distribution and vendor recruitment to Kitsap and East King counties with new partnerships in Bremerton and Bellevue. These new projects need care and feeding. Your support will help ensure that the capacity we need is there.

In 2014, we will launch a new iPhone and Android app that allows you to securely purchase an electronic publication, or EPUB edition, of Real Change from your phone. Our work on this over the past two years will have huge payoffs for our vendors, when the biggest obstacle to their success — the fact that fewer and fewer of us carry cash all the time — will disappear. Your support helps us with the staffing, consulting and increased production costs that will make that possible.

We will continue to bring you the quality journalism and breaking news that won 11 first-place awards from the Washington Press Association, the Society of Professional Journalists and the North American Street Newspaper Association this year. 

In a world where newspapers in general are on the ropes and style is often prized over substance, you need Real Change more than ever to stay informed on the issues that matter to you the most.

Our organizing is on fire.  Throughout 2013, Real Change followed through on its strategic plan of reinvesting in grassroots advocacy and having the capacity to engage our vendors fully in social change.

Nearly 100 vendors this year participated in events, attended advocacy trainings or got involved through our bi-weekly advocacy lunches.

Vendors walked picket lines and leafleted in support of a fair grocery worker contract.

Vendors camped out in downtown parks and marched in protest for expanded survival services. Through their efforts, we are seeing a long-needed shift in policy toward better addressing unmet human needs.

Vendors participated in our movie project and created amazing films to tell their stories. Vendors have shared their stories as part of our monthly Economic Justice Film Series.

Vendors joined our revitalized Homeless Speakers Bureau, and the community has responded with a steady flow of speaker requests.

Vendors have participated in lobbying trainings led by leading advocate Nancy Amidei, enrolled in leadership development trainings hosted by the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance and testified before the city council on a variety of issues.

And our work there is really just getting started. In 2014, the strength of our work on closing the survival gap and addressing economic justice issues like a fair minimum wage will be limited only by our capacity.

Everyday, remarkable and amazing things happen because of Real Change. 

People find community and purpose. They walk away from addiction and hopelessness. They begin to believe in themselves and in the decency of others.

Compared to this, the magic involved in meeting our ambitious fund-drive goal feels relatively minor.

So, please, take a moment now to support our winter fund drive with the year-end gift that works best for you. Donations of $250 and more are matched. Visit our secure website at realchangenews.org to make your gift online or mail your support to 219 1st Ave. S., Ste. 220, Seattle, WA 98104.

Thank you for being a part of our work and community. Together, we’re going to make 2014 the most amazing year our vendors have ever had.

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