Daniel Long has always been a leader. From serving on Real Change’s Vendor Advisory Board to helping with the leadership team at the shelter where he was staying.
When Long moved back up to Seattle from Texas, he didn’t have a lot of places to go. He had grown up in the foster care system, living in 21 homes all over the state of Washington. He decided to move to Seattle because he figured he’d have more resources. “If anything, it’s a big city and I can get my foot in the door. I thought the bigger the city, the better the job,” Long said.
When he moved into a shelter, he met Brenda. Brenda was a Real Change vendor. She taught him how to sell the paper. “I was shy and Brenda taught me how to talk with people,” Long said.
Long’s first day at Real Change was a Wednesday. That is the day that the new paper arrives and vendors help unload it from the the truck into the office. Vendor Darcie Day pulled Long into line and told him, “You’re doing truck unload right next to me. I’ll show you how to do it,” Long said. That’s how he met the love of his life.
By August 2014, after being together for three months and being on the streets for three months (instead of a shelter), they got into an apartment together. At the time, Long was working trade labor and selling Real Change on the side.
When he lost his job, everything started to spiral. Day and Long soon lost their apartment because their landlady’s family needed a place to live. Long lost a lot of his benefits. He survived by fixing bicycles and doing odd jobs. But, he eventually ended up back on the street. When he came back to Real Change, he started to rally. Things got better.
Then, things got worse. Long and Day split up. In October, a week after Long’s birthday, Darcie Day passed away during heart surgery.
“We fought like cats and dogs, but we camped near each other and always looked out for one another,” Long said. “My birthday will never be the same.”
Long has suffered a lot of loss in his life. He ended up tracking down his birth mother, who he learned had passed away in 2016. He never did get to build a relationship with her. He doesn’t let that pull him down.
In March, Long was elected by his peers to be on the Vendor Advisory Board, making the communication between the staff at Real Change and the vendors smooth and making sure the vendors are being heard.
Long is a natural-born leader no matter what tragedies he has faced. He never gives up.
Daniel Long is one of 300 active vendors selling Real Change. Each week a different vendor is featured. View previous vendor profiles.
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