"There but for the grace of God go I," his dad used to say.
For nearly every time they drove underneath the Ballard Bridge, an adolescent Jeff would see homeless people from the car window and turn to his father for an explanation.
"He was letting me know that you're always that close to being right there," Jeff says.
Jeff grew up in Seattle on Queen Anne Hill. The son of a sea captain, he's been working on fishing boats the entirety of his adult years. Until the accident, that is: While purse seining salmon in Sandpoint, Alaska, Jeff took a fall that changed his life.
"I fell overboard into the net, cracked my back on the side rail, and then was fished out of the net," he tells me, "I herniated two discs in my back."
It took nearly a year to recover from the accident. And with an injured back, hauling nets was out of the question. It was the end of his fishing career.
At 41, Jeff -- functionally disabled and out of a job -- became homeless for the first time in his life. A friend and longtime vendor told him about Real Change, so he decided to give it a try.
"I had a hard time asking anybody for money," Jeff explains, "So this worked out for me because it's like a business."
And like any successful businessman, Jeff relies on the continued support of his loyal customers to stay afloat. Not to mention the generous management and staff at stores like Trader Joe's on Queen Anne, where he frequently sells the paper.
"They're very good people," he says earnestly, "I appreciate their business."