If you’re reading this, I probably don’t have to say a lot about why this newspaper deserves your support. Our vendors, along with readers like you, are the heroes of Real Change, and we have the stories to prove it.
After 25 years of growing this organization, I am still awed by the depth of our caring community, and all the beautiful things you make possible.
Every year, more than 60 percent of Real Change’s financial support comes from readers like you. Nearly another third of our budget comes from paper sales.
We are nothing if not reader supported. This is why your gift to our Winter Fund Drive matters so much.
Every dollar goes to support our mission of providing opportunity and a voice to homeless and low-income people while taking action for the change we need.
Every dollar is a measure of our grassroots support, and our strength as a community institution.
Every dollar is a vote of faith in our vendors, and backs their continued success.
Vendors like Shawn Wilson, who have come back from despair to regain their sense of self through the supportive community you make possible.
At Shawn’s low point, he was rescued from a second suicide attempt at the Aurora Bridge. The pain in his life had led him to give up on himself and everyone around him.
Real Change and the community of support he found as a vendor in Crown Hill helped Shawn to trust again.
Our readers, in showing Shawn how much they valued him, helped Shawn to value himself.
“The most important thing of all,” Shawn said, “is when people ask how you’re doing and smile and show how much they care. It just balances you. It really does.”
Caring is never wasted. Small gestures accumulate and become the levers that move the world. We see that here all the time.
This week, I got a call from a reporter at a Madison Park community newspaper. He’d seen some buzz on Next Door — a neighborhood forum that is hardly known as homeless friendly — that a Real Change vendor had been hired at Bert’s Red Apple.
The comments were entirely supportive
Bert’s is George Sidwell’s long-term post. We’ve told George’s inspiring story here many times. This is a man who has been run over by life again and again — he had a stroke, fell off a roof, lost his business and lost everything in a house fire — and he always found the strength and support to get back up.
In a time when people who experience adversity often find themselves abandoned, Real Change was the community that stood behind him.
And George gave back. He became a vendor leader, joined our Speaker’s Bureau and testified at City Hall and in Olympia.
And now, the community that supported him all along has embraced him again.
This is a story of personal strength. It is a story of enormous stamina and effort. It is a story of compassion as a verb.
And it is a story about why your support matters. Every newspaper that is sold is a bridge to caring community.
And every dollar you donate means that people like Shawn, people like George and about 600 other active vendors every year, get the support they need to find their way back home.
This year, Real Change has strengthened our everyday support of our vendors in dozens of small ways: Veterinary care for their pets, hair cuts and foot care, access to a medical van and a new clothing pantry.
We have taken on the third rail of Seattle politics — the seemingly unresolvable issue of public toilets — and won funding for staffed Mobile Pit Stops in the city budget.
We have published more than 100,000 copies of the Emerald City Resource Guide, the now indispensible pocket-sized guide to Seattle services, and engaged hundreds of allies to get these on the streets.
Your end-of-year gift to Real Change impacts thousands of lives, and creates hope in dark and challenging times.
Please support our work with your heartfelt gift today: Go to bit.ly/RealChange25 to make a secure donation.
Mail your gift to 219 First Ave. S., Suite 220, Seattle, WA 98104, or call us at 206.441.3247 x201. Thank you!
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. He can be reached at director (at) realchangenews (dot) org
Read the full Dec. 11 - 17 issue.
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