Oscar sniffed hungrily at the scent of turkey and gravy wafting down from the dinner table. The scent became stronger and, drooling, he saw a plate at his feet. Oscar planted his face in the food, eating with obvious enjoyment.
"He's happy, he's inside with a friend of mine, he's playing with other dogs every day." Vendor of the week Stephanie Houston left her pet with a friend until she gets back on her feet.
Houston seems well on her way. Recovering from addiction, she is 35 days clean, getting into transitional housing, and has a job interview next week. She credits Real Change with offering her a community of support; in particular she thanks the women's group Women of Real Change (WORC).
"There are people out there that say cruel things to us, like, 'You're just an illegal panhandler.'" With the support from the women involved in WORC, Houston finds it easier to go out and sell the paper. "It's beautiful."
When not selling, Houston enjoys the sandy shores of Golden Gardens and the warmth of the coffee shops in Ballard. She enjoys interacting with all the people she meets.
"When I look at somebody I look from the inside out... whether you're black, white, purple or green." Growing up in a racist home, she strives to look beyond the physical characteristics of others. "The outside you can change any time. You can change your haircut, your face, your body, anything." For her, what matters is the person inside.
Houston thanks the people who support Real Change. "It's a big part of my life... without them I wouldn't have nothing right now and I have so much to offer and they have so much to offer."
Meet with Houston in Ballard at 22nd Ave. NW and NW Market St.