It’s been a rough couple of years for Anna Gibson. First her wallet was stolen on MAX in Portland. She had to figure out a way to earn some money without any ID. That’s how she got into Real Change.
“I cried the first time I sold papers. I’m not ashamed either, because I’d never been rejected so many times in my whole life. Real Change is like my Rock of Gibraltar. It gives me the faith and peace and security and solace, determination and resilience and faith to keep trucking.”
“I got my ID stolen [again] last winter off Western. My entire bag was under my head.” She was sleeping so hard she didn’t notice it was gone. She’ll never put her Social Security card and her ID together again. “If I have to open a safety deposit box and put the SSI card in there and keep the ID on me, then that’s what we do.”
But through it all, she credits staff at Real Change for giving her support. When she was in the hospital for a medical problem, staff phoned and asked if they could visit.
This year, when Anna’s dad died, people at Real Change were “consoling and supportive.
I didn’t know if I’d see you guys again when my big brother got me a one-way ticket back home.”
“Back home” is Oklahoma. “I was born in a really small country town.” It was her stepmom who taught her to appreciate labor, though Anna had her difficulties with her. “She was a Scorpio born on Halloween.”
Anna found her vocation when she became a certified chef. This was in the nature of a family legacy. “I got my baking from my grandmas. We could do all the sauces and jellies and pastries, but Bonny [her stepmother] can do pastries and Wiener schnitzel.”
Anna especially likes making “sweets and meats. I can specialize into gluten-free and vegan, but my favorite is natural butter creams and diabetic desserts. I can also do short-order cooking. I was a master grill operator in a waffle house. I was a chef apprentice for 14 years, a three-star restaurant.”
Anna was with her father when he died in February. “I would like to make him proud. He’s talked to me and told me to get my shit together, and so I’m trying to keep falling forward. He told me that he didn’t want at my funeral for people to say, ‘well, she had a big heart, but what did she do?’”
Anna would answer she’s already done some things. “Dad, I was executive chef of the Holiday Inn, and I was pastry chef at East Central University and that was my favorite job of my whole life.”
And once the obstacle of recovering her ID is out of the way, and once her finances and housing are stable, she has dreams of getting her chef license back, or maybe even doing a food cart with her boyfriend.
There’s plenty ahead in the future.
Anna is one of 300 active vendors selling Real Change. Each week a different vendor is featured. View previous Vendor Profiles.
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