Dave Williams is most often recognized first not because of his commanding personality or good-natured quips, but by his massive Great Dane, Laia. She accompanies Dave everywhere, and is well known to Dave’s customers and fellow Real Change vendors.
“[She] keeps my PTSD, my bipolar in check, ’cause I gotta be polite and talk to people.”
When Dave is selling the paper, “she’ll just lay there, or if we’re outside and she’s waiting and I’m just blabbering away, she’ll be sitting straight up and start staring at me, like, someone’s giving me an indication it’s time to go.”
Dave is open about his personal struggles and how Laia helps him through them.
“I’ve always been one to work for myself because of some problems that I’ve acquired from different situations in my life have brought on, one of them being PTSD from a divorce. People don’t think you can get that from a divorce, well it can happen, especially when you go from supporting the family, doing anything and everything.”
Dave held various jobs, including one as a newspaper bundle hauler for The Olympian, and another with a housing services agency that was in the same building as Real Change’s former office in Belltown.
“I remember when they started [Real Change] down in Belltown, on Second Avenue down by the old Social Security office. … I didn’t start until they moved down here,” to its current Pioneer Square location.
Dave sells at multiple locations around the city; he particularly enjoys the CVS in Lower Queen Anne in the fall and winter months, saying he has a good relationship with the manager.
When Dave talks to his customers, he loves talking about the Seahawks. As a season-ticket holder, Dave has even gone out of his way to coordinate his wheelchair to match the Seahawks’ colors.
“Come by, talk to me. I’m open. I like to talk to people if they’re sports-minded, you know, that’s fine, if it’s interesting, I’ll listen. If it’s not, I’ll be polite. I just want people to come up.”
Born in Iowa but raised in Washington, Dave loves the Pacific Northwest and all that it gave him growing up — “fishing and all that.” Dave also loves selling Real Change because it allows him to pay his rent, and also to pay any vet bills that come up for Laia. “So easy with this to make money, and pay your rent,” he says. “We love doing it.”
Dave is one of 300 active vendors selling Real Change. Each week a different vendor is featured in our publication. View previous Vendor Profiles.
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