Adrian Aytch doesn’t like talking about his past. Before he found Real Change, there wasn’t a lot of love.
At eighteen, he aged out of foster care and became homeless. After a decade on the street, Adrian finally came indoors in 2007.
That’s when he found subsidized housing in a rehabilitated Single Room Occupancy hotel. Disability and medical benefits helped, but the healing was just beginning.
It took Real Change to get him out of his head and into community.
“I was broke, and I ran into this dude who said, ‘Hey, you can make money!’ I didn’t believe it, but then I watched him sell. It worked out man. It worked out great!”
Since then, Adrian’s Real Change customers have helped him become his best self.
“I forget things. I’m kinda manic sometimes. I get a little delusional. Who doesn’t? But I try to maintain, and I try to do good. That’s all that matters.”
“Selling papers really boosts my confidence. I used to be really unsure of myself. I started selling papers, and I’m like, ‘Hey, I can talk!’”
Your gift to Real Change means that people like Adrian have work, community, and a path toward overcoming a lifetime of hurt.
It’s the small, everyday kindnesses that let our vendors know they’re not alone. That make them feel valued and cared for.
Adrian talks about the time he fell asleep at his vendor post. When he woke up, there was $14 in his lap. People kept right on buying his papers.
One regular customer remembers when Adrian was sick. Now, she gets a paper and buys him orange juice whenever she sees him.
West Seattle Trader Joe’s recently gave Adrian a birthday card and $25.
“There were little hearts on it,” he recalls. “And it said, ‘You work hard!’ They all signed it and everything.”
“It made me feel like, ‘Hey, I’m somebody.’”
Each year, Real Change helps more than 700 people like Adrian to help themselves. With your support, Seattle is becoming a kinder and more caring place to live.
Adrian sees this every time he sells his paper. He knows that the more supporters we have, the better he does. He puts that belief into action whenever he can.
In the past few months, Adrian has posted flyers in West Seattle to tell people about the paper. He’s handed out invitations to our open house. He’s distributed surveys to help us learn more about our readers.
He does all of this because he believes in Real Change.
“Helping the paper helps me. It’s getting the word out. It’s a symbiotic relationship. The better Real Change does, the more people buy papers, and the better I do.”
That’s why, in addition to making your gift to the Spring Fund Drive, we hope you consider spreading the word yourself. Here’s a short list of ways to help:
• After you read your Real Change, pass it on to someone new. Tell them why our vendors deserve their support.
• Get a behind-the-scenes view into North America’s leading street newspaper by coming to our
Open House from noon to 2 pm on June 13th or June 16th. Bring a friend.
• Invite a speaker to come talk to your group. Our staff and members of our Homeless Speaker’s Bureau love talking about Real Change.
• Take a selfie with your favorite vendor to post on social media, tagging
• Download the Venmo app to your phone and learn how easy safe, electronic payment can be. Find our account at @Real-Change, enter your payment amount along with the vendor’s name and badge number, to credit their account.
• Mark your calendar for September 18th and invite your friends to the 24th Annual Real Change Breakfast, where we’ll be celebrating our amazing Vendors of the Year.
Adrian has felt the power of our community first hand, and seen the difference that caring can make.
“We’re like the forgotten bunch, you know? But the message is getting out. Knowledge is power. I got people who see me, and they walk over fast and say, “Yeah! Real Change!”
That makes Adrian and vendors like him feel like they are seen. That’s where change begins.
Please make your Spring Fund Drive gift, of any amount that works for you, and let our vendors know there’s a community standing behind them. Your donation funds vendor success, community journalism, and determined activism.
“You just gotta keep your head up,” says Adrian. “You gotta do good, and have the fire in your heart, because good things happen when you do.”
Tim Harris is the Founding Director Real Change and has been active as a poor people’s organizer for more than two decades. Prior to moving to Seattle in 1994, Harris founded street newspaper Spare Change in Boston while working as Executive Director of Boston Jobs with Peace.
Wait, there's more. Check out the full May 30 - June 5 issue.
Real Change is a non-profit organization advocating for economic, social and racial justice. Since 1994 our award-winning weekly newspaper has provided an immediate employment opportunity for people who are homeless and low income. Learn more about Real Change.