While most of us were enjoying a day off this past January 15, Calvin Turner was marching on the State Capitol, demanding education, vocational training and low-income housing for Washington’s homeless. In his nine months as a vendor, Calvin has become a leader within the Real Change community, and an outspoken advocate for the homeless.
Calvin, our vendor of the week, was born in Mt. Pleasant, Texas, and I noticed he still carries a subtle and maybe indelible Texas twang. Out of high school, Calvin was drafted into the U.S. Navy, where he fought with a ground-fire suppression unit. Following his tour-of-duty, he worked in Seattle with developmentally disabled adults as a recovery specialist. But Calvin’s memories of Vietnam never left him, and, entangled by them, he fell on hard times.
“I was down and out,” says Calvin, “I decided to make a ‘real change.’” Few vendors have so quickly come to sell papers like Calvin, a self-described “total extrovert.” And as Calvin’s sales have grown, he’s moved from the streets to a share-shelter, from a share-shelter to a studio, and now has plans to buy a home in Kent.
“If you’re willing to work,” Calvin says, “Real Change works.”
If you find yourself on 15th and Thomas, where Calvin sells Real Change, congratulate him on a job well done.