“I don’t give up,” is the motto that Daniel Long used to live by. If you knew Daniel, you were sure of two things: He would defend his opinion even if he knew he was wrong just to be right, and he loved country music. He would blare his speakers full of Kenny Chesney, Luke Bryan and even some old school Johnny Cash so the whole neighborhood could hear. Even if it got him in trouble.
Daniel grew up in Olympia. He spent all of his childhood in foster care. “I was raised here in Washington; all my life I was in foster care and was in 21 different homes,” Daniel said. As soon as he turned 18, he was put out on the street. Since then Daniel was on and off the street his entire adult life. When Daniel didn’t have anywhere to go, one of his past foster moms offered for him to crash on her couch down in Portland until he could get on his feet. That didn’t work out and Daniel couldn’t find work long enough to sustain him. So he moved to Texas.
Daniel’s plan was to soak up the country music and work on the shrimp boats. “I went to work on the shrimp boats and ended up going in the opposite direction. I went to prison. When they say don’t mess with Texas, they mean it,” Daniel said. Daniel spent 15 years down in the prison system in Texas and promised his cell mate that within six months of getting out, he would have an apartment. When Daniel said he would do something, he almost always did. He decided to try his luck in Seattle because it was back in his home state and — being the biggest city in Washington — offered so many more resources than any other town could.
Within six months, Daniel was inside just like he promised. But like most of the vendors at Real Change, as soon as he lost his job in trade labor, he couldn’t continue to pay for his apartment and was booted out. He ended up at a shelter in Seattle and his friend Brenda decided to bring him into Real Change. On his first day there, he met the love of his life, Darcie.
“We used to fight like cats and dogs and even though we weren’t together at the end of her life, I always watched out for her. When she died the week after my birthday (October 2018), I was heartbroken,” Daniel said. Without Darcie taking him under her wings and showing him the ropes, Daniel wouldn’t have been as dedicated to the Real Change community as he was.
In 2003, Daniel went back to school and got his GED. This past year, he decided to go to online college and study graphic design. He was always dedicated to taking care of others and bettering himself for them. Daniel had a streak in him that made him protective of his community and especially his Real Change community. “I take care of the people around me,” Daniel said.
When the Real Change community found out that Daniel had died, it didn’t come as a huge surprise that it was defending a woman from a man. When Daniel saw actions he didn’t think were okay, he always saw it as his moral obligation to help, even if it put his life in danger.
Daniel was someone you could hear coming a mile away, with or without his music. He was someone who would pet every dog that he passed and always spoke up for what he believed in, even if he knew he was in the wrong. He is leaving behind a huge hole at Real Change. Our office will be a little quieter and less fun without him.
We’ll sure miss Daniel around here.
Read more in the June 24-30, 2020 issue.