Real Change Vendor Justin Seher was born in County Galway, Ireland. He was immediately adopted through the Catholic Church and raised in a somewhat privileged household in Connecticut. His old man was a state representative.
“He was a liar and a manipulator.”
Justin’s mother was a fantastically brilliant woman.
“My mother, she was an academic, she was a teacher, she was an artist, and she was my best friend.”
She encouraged his artistic side and gave Justin the experience of meeting Georgia O’Keefe in her home in Maine.
“I’ll never forget those paintings.”
Unfortunately, Justin’s mother had cystic fibrosis. She passed away when Justin was in university. He was intended to receive an inheritance in order to complete college and establish himself thereafter.
“In any case, the old man, being an estate attorney and the executor of her will … He changed the will … He kept all the money…Needless to say, I haven’t spoken to him in many years.”
Unable to make payments, Justin quit university and went to work in a print house. The print house introduced Justin to the world of graphic design. Traveling from New York City to Oklahoma, his exploration of America coincided with Justin establishing a name for himself with large format digital printing and building websites.
Justin later married and had children. He moved with his family to Ireland, yet shortly after the move, Justin and his wife separated and she bought him a plane ticket back to the states. After saving a couple thousand working in Alaska, Justin trekked down to Seattle.
“I was planning on moving back to Ireland, (but) then I was jumped, beaten up severely and robbed. They got my laptop, my smartphone, my passport, my Social Security card … I had six broken ribs, a concussion, I got hit in the head so many times that they cut my ear in half. It was bad and after that trauma, there was a lot of PTSD with depression combined with separation anxiety … It was a very dark place.”
Afterward, Justin could not pull a regular job because he did not have a Social Security card.
“There’s this feeling that I’ve not been going anywhere; that I’ve been walking up a down escalator.”
Justin lived in an alley doorway for about two years. Justin has plans to support his kids in the future.
“What motivates me the most in life is getting back to my kids, putting myself in a position to buy some land somewhere in Europe and building a sustainable homestead with gardens … that I can leave to my boys if ever, God forbid, they find themselves in a similar situation as I’ve been in. They’ll always have this place that they can go live, rent-free. If they farm the land and tend to the gardens, they can feed themselves. That’s my greatest ambition in life; I go to sleep every night with images in my mind of almost every detail of this stone house that I want to build. I’ve been building the blueprints in my mind for quite a while now.”
Like many Real Change vendors, Justin has a lot of thoughts on homelessness.
“Everyone’s story is different, yet we are lumped in a category and have become a statistic. I can only urge people to get to know others, give people a chance, despite their circumstances. Not everyone will be a shining beacon of hope or joy, yet we are all people who wish not to be cast by the wayside. A bit of understanding can go a long way, and the tiniest bit of compassion can make the difference in someone’s arduous, tedious day. If anything, a genuine smile and a look in the eye will do, you’d be surprised what a difference it can make in a person’s day, and in your own. Please consider this.”