Three years ago, Cory Oviatt was vendor of the week for Real Change. He had built a regular clientele and did well for the next two years at his location in Issaquah.
“I met a couple there. This gentleman did home remodeling. His wife and him offered me a position. I got really excited about moving forward in life. I made a decision to go to work for him.”
Cory had been living on SSI disability income for a year and a half, due to a diagnosis of bipolar disorder.
“I worked four weeks and he let me go. It was brutal. I had to report all my earnings to SSI, which meant that now I had no income for three months. I lost my health care provider. I lost my practitioner that did all my counseling. I lost my psychiatrist that prescribed my medication for me. I almost lost my housing due to no income. I lost my Real Change location.”
His father had died a few months earlier. “It was the perfect storm.”
“I come from a substance-abuse background. I fell back into some old patterns. That led to some serious drug issues, alcohol relapse.
“I revisited Real Change to try to get back on track. However, I was bitter at everything that had happened. Starting over, I didn’t have the heart to do it. So I gave up Real Change. I couldn’t forgive myself.”
He credits making it through to a good friend, who “stuck with me through nine months of absolute craziness. I’d like to mention her by name — Zoe Jacobs.
“I ended up getting sober eight weeks ago.”
What finally did it for him was a TED Talk video. “This man talks not so much about chemical hooks, but a disconnection and a bond. If you’re disconnected you’re going to bond to anything. For me, it was drugs and alcohol.”
It was different when he was selling Real Change. “I was bonding with people that were purchasing the paper and not only them, but anybody that came by. So, I was connected — I was bonding. It was an amazing discovery, a God thing, higher power. That was what was keeping me sober.”
“Now I’m again with Real Change. I’m out in Edmonds, which is where I was not only raised, but the PCC is [the site of] my first job when it was an Albertson’s. Full circle.”
Cory says he’s managing his bipolar disorder with diet and supplements. He doesn’t suggest anybody go off their meds without talking to a doctor, but “I really think that I can manage it, and if I can’t, I will seek proper medication.”
Recently Cory experienced an emotion that he couldn’t identify. Then he realized, “I’m learning to forgive myself. It was so foreign I couldn’t put a name to it.”
As far as Real Change, he says that without it, “I wouldn’t be where I am at today with my housing or character development. I wouldn’t be sober.”
Cory is one of 300 active vendors selling Real Change. Each week a different vendor is featured. View previous vendor profiles. Check out the full June 27 - July 3 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.