June 11, 2014
Vol: 21 No: 24

Director's Corner

Making change real, one victory at a time

By Timothy Harris / Executive Director

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One of the great joys of Real Change is seeing people like Tracey Williams, who’ve experienced loss, hardship, and homelessness, find the support that they need to get to a better place. 

Tracey’s luck took a turn for the worse with the 2010 Tennessee floods, which meant less work as a chef and a move to Seattle to be near his daughter. The work Tracey was hoping for didn’t materialize, and before long he turned to selling Real Change at the Lake City Starbucks and the Westwood Village Target.

Since no shelter would accept both him and Gwynnie, his beloved terrier-beagle, Tracey mostly slept in his 1999 Saturn. He has also found a home at Nickelsville, where he put his cooking skills to use by making mouthwatering barbeque for the residents. 

Selling Real Change isn’t always easy. My favorite story of his is about the guy who told him to “Get a job.” Tracey gave it to him straight. He said, “There’s a lot of things I could be doing … I could be breaking into your house, selling you dope, robbing you, killing somebody. But I’m standing here selling the paper.”

The man just looked at him and drove off. The next day, he came back and bought a paper for $20. He’s been a regular customer since.

Through it all, Tracey has been sending money home for his kids and working toward something better.  This month, after three years of homelessness, he and Gwynnie finally got an apartment. While he still enjoys selling Real Change, Tracey has bigger ambitions. His dream is to open a barbeque stand of his own.

A little opportunity, combined with the caring community of our supporters, goes a very long way in making the hard road out of homelessness possible. 

Tracey’s success reminds us that while the work of system change is long and difficult, it’s these personal victories that give us hope and joy and inspire us along the way.

Your support of our work makes stories like Tracey’s possible. 

Every year, we raise most of our support through the spring and holiday fund drives. More than half of our budget comes through the grassroots support of readers like you. 

People don’t always understand what Real Change is or how it works.  Some, like the man who told Tracey to “Get a job,” come loaded with assumptions, but after awhile, their hearts change. Others understand that our work is bigger than this. That we’re an award-winning newspaper. That we take on audacious advocacy and organizing. That we make change happen.

Those are the folks who often take that next step, from simply supporting their vendor to becoming a contributor. Last year, more than 1,700 people made our work possible through their generous gifts.

Our Spring Drive goal this year was to raise $195,000 by June 10. At the close of our drive yesterday, 601 people hade contributed an amazing $155,373. This kind of support for our work, whether we hit that goal or not, is a deep inspiration to all of us.

But maybe, this week, we can do better. Maybe you are someone who has a favorite vendor or two, but hasn’t yet taken that next step? Maybe this is something you’d like to do now? You can give at realchangenews.org by either making a one-time gift or spreading it out over the year. You can also mail your tax-deductible support to Real Change, 219 First Ave. S., Ste. 220, Seattle, WA 98104. (See the ad on page 9).

Each day, your generous support of our vendors changes lives and opens minds. Thank you again, to each and every one of you.

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