I’ve taken on a lot of new customers. It’s important to bring them up-to-date on why I’m here. It’s for the people who are homeless and what Real Change has meant to me.
I was homeless for 16 years — for five years here in Seattle. And I struggled. Change came very slow and hard for me because of choices I made. Drugs, prison, alcohol and then came depression and total isolation when I had almost given up on myself, but in the end it was love that saved my life.
Once I started getting therapy and working my way out of it, I received housing. The transition from homelessness to housing impacted my life completely. Being able to sing, cry, pray, chant, cook, eat, sleep, study — whatever it is you want to do — in the privacy and sanctuary of your own home.
I was able to start applying myself. I volunteered helping others at North Helpline Emergency Services and Food Bank and the Ballard Food Bank. And I’m also available for the emergency contact list at Lifelong. Volunteering gave me something to look forward to each and every day. It gave me a purpose. In the end, I got the greatest reward in life: investing in people.
Then came Real Change. It challenged me. I was not sure how things would work out at first. But very soon after, it became second nature. Because of all of you, every single person who stopped to say hi, how are you, the ones who smiled, people who bought the paper, kids who bought the paper, people who gave donations, people who gave more, to all of the Safeway employees, management and upper management: I thank you and my mom does too.
Real Change has been the best thing for me. I haven’t been happier in my life than doing what I’m doing now.
Some people ask me, “Why don’t you work inside?” They don’t know what my struggle has been. Real Change has been the best thing for me. I haven’t been happier in my life than doing what I’m doing now. The support I receive goes so much further than just me. There are so many more people still living on the street.
I even bought myself my first car: a 2000 Honda Civic for $550 from a friend of a friend at Crown Hill Auto Shop. My mother had to come up from Oklahoma to take care of me when I was sick, and it was a struggle for her to get on and off the bus. She hasn’t been able to see Seattle. She’s only been to the grocery store, Harborview Medical Center and my doctor’s office.
The car runs great. Now my mom can come and visit me and go wherever she wants. So to everyone and anyone I may have missed, thank you for bringing Real Change to me and my family. Happy holidays to everyone!
Shawn Wilson sells at the Safeway at NW 85th Street and 15th Avenue NW.
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