Susan McRoy doesn’t just see Real Change as a source of income. She sees it as a mission.
“When I had to go to a shelter in 2001, I had never seen poverty in the United States so severely. So, I wanted to do something about it but also take care of myself. I started working with Real Change. I loved getting my own money. I liked setting my own hours. And I liked the fact that Real Change was a nonprofit, fighting poverty and homelessness.”
Susan was in a shelter because her Snohomish County cabin was in bad shape. “There was a chronic leak in the roof, then the well broke twice, and then the septic system broke. I was trying to do it myself, but it wasn’t possible.”
With income from Real Change, from other jobs like housekeeping and selling hand-made blankets and with family help, Susan got the cabin back in livable shape. Eventually, her mother bought another cabin nearby, so that they could be neighbors. Susan kept selling Real Change, even though it meant a commute of over an hour each way.
Family problems have cut into her working hours. “My mom’s been living with cancer for 12 months, and she’s moved into nursing care. I’m the one that’s in charge of taxiing her to the doctor. Her schedule is consistently inconsistent. I’m trying to be as patient as possible.”
Susan’s family moved a lot when she was a kid. “I graduated from high school with a 3.98 grade point average, and I went to three different grade schools, three different middle schools, three different high schools and three different colleges in seven different states.” She finished at Evergreen State College after studying botany, ornithology and fiber arts.
When she started working for Real Change, she decided it would be a good idea to stay in one place as long as possible.
Recently, Susan was elected to be a vendor representative, “responsible for setting up the line where they pass the newspapers from the truck into the office, person by person by person. Also, if there’s a grievance, the vendor representatives [are] in the meeting, and if we don’t think that the punishment is fair, we put our thumbs down, but if we do think that it’s fair, we put our thumbs up.”
“I like having one foot in the office and one foot at my post. It’s exciting to see how a nonprofit works. And I am inspired to start my own nonprofit.” Susan isn’t ready to share the details of her vision, but it involves creating a stable community where formerly homeless people could live and work.
In the meantime, she sells the paper at Central Co-op on Capitol Hill. “I love finding people’s ideas and impressions of the newspaper. I really like giving the paper out. Sometimes people say, ‘Oh, I’m just going to donate,’ and that’s fine, too, but I really am satisfied if they take the paper. I want them to know what’s going on.”
Read the full October 23 - 29 issue.
© 2019 Real Change. All rights reserved.| Real Change is a non-profit organization advocating for economic, social and racial justice since 1994. Learn more about Real Change and donate now to support independent, award-winning journalism.