At the beginning of 2019, I started in a new role as the vendor program manager at Real Change. I remember reading the job listing and thinking this position was an opportunity for yet another homecoming for me. I began reading Real Change around 1997. My father always kept a copy in the back seat of his car. I eventually got to meet his vendor. They were on a first name basis and had a lot of mutual respect. As a former journalist himself, my dad stressed the importance of getting your news, and thinking about issues, from as many perspectives as possible. He admired the role of the paper for the vendors as well as for the news community in general.
I moved to New York City in 1999 and obtained a bachelor’s in sociology at Hunter College and my master’s in social work at the Hunter College School of Social Work. I started my career in workforce development with the street homeless population in Manhattan. I went on to work in the Bronx and Brooklyn in several different roles, remaining true to my passion of putting people to work and developing employment and training opportunities.
I spent more than 10 years as a vocational counselor for young adults aging out of foster care, formerly incarcerated people and folks experiencing chemical addiction. I came to realize that looking for and keeping a job is a challenging and difficult journey filled with rejection when your life is not as stable as you would wish.
I have always thought the Pacific Northwest was the most beautiful part of our country. Our view of the mountains and spending time near water is peaceful and helps me feel more connected to my roots. After being away for 19 years, I wanted to return. I was hoping to find a position where I could use my workforce development experience to tackle any facet of the serious issues that people experiencing homelessness in Seattle face. I struggled with how many people living here don’t see homeless folks as belonging to the community. Nothing could be further from the truth. We all live together. We walk the same streets and live in the same neighborhoods.
We all live together. We walk the same streets and live in the same neighborhoods.
Real Change strives to work toward racial, social and economic justice. We are able to put people to work without the rejection, the hurdles and the struggle to operate in a traditional work environment. Vendors work as hard as anyone. They get to be business owners at the same time as being an advocate for issues that affect them and, in reality, all of us.
I could not be more honored to be a part of an amazing team of staff and vendors who truly care about the essential work they do. I am happy to be a part of a team that helps people take the first steps toward independence, improved self-esteem and purpose through employment. I have said it many times, but I truly believe there is nothing better you can give a person than a job. Thank you everyone for the warmest of welcomes. I am very happy to be home.
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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.