When I first walked through the doors of Real Change, I had no idea what to expect. I knew that I was in a dire situation where hopelessness and helplessness reigned supreme. I didn’t think that I could sell anything. Little did I know that the paper sold itself, that amazing and wonderful people who were familiar with the paper would be my saving grace.
I cannot express how honored I am to be a part of Reader Appreciation Week. Vendors adoringly call our readers our customers, patrons, community and, yes, friends. They have had such an extreme impact on my life and livelihood.
Being a vendor for Real Change restored my self-confidence and allowed me to lift myself to realize that I should be living the life that I am capable of living. For that, I am grateful.
Before I knew it, I became a 300 Club member and was always excited to go to my selling location. I laugh to myself because all of a sudden, one day, it wasn’t just about earning an income; it was about connecting with “my people” — as that was my nickname for my readers. I was always happy to see them and talk with them and a connection was formed.
As this connection was being established, I was opening up and willing to share my story of how I got to that point of my life. The part that I didn’t foresee was that the vendor-to-reader relationship was strong. We were sharing stories. We all have a story, no matter what your background or socio-economic status is, and our stories become the ties that bind. I can say wholeheartedly that I was extremely fortunate to have the customers that I had.
It is from all of you, my dear readers and avid supporters, that I overcame my homeless situation. The words of wisdom. The extra support when I was going through a medical condition. The words of inspiration — other than “stay dry! — when I was standing in the rain. The hugs on days when I needed comfort. The cups of hot tea when it was 30 degrees and bottles of water when it was 90 degrees. Dinner, just because. Gift cards that said, “I care” and “good luck.” A coat when I didn’t have a warm one. A scarf on Christmas Eve when it was snowing, because I left mine on the bus. For realizing that you could walk by me and not buy a paper but just say hi and come over for a conversation. To the employees at the store that I would talk to for half an hour before selling. For never making me feel less than human. To those who quizzed me with interview questions when I informed you that I was applying for a job at Real Change, my first in the office job in five years!
This former vendor — now a Real Change staff member — is completely overjoyed to have been a part of personally knowing Real Change readers. You are all people of grand character, and from the bottom of my heart. I am forever indebted to you for allowing me to witness firsthand that humanity still exists.
Evie Lovett is the Vendor Program Specialist and a former Real Change vendor.
Wait, there's more. Check out the full May 2 - 8 issue.