When people tell you to watch out for identity theft, man, they really mean it.
Born in Torrance, California, and raised in Redmond, Susan Kelley is this week’s vendor of the week. These days she sells at the Walgreen’s on 15th.
Susan Kelley taught kindergarten for 20 years. And, though you wouldn’t know it to talk to her (her smile is the kind of smile that hums), during that time Kelley became pretty well acquainted with hardship: her mother’s stroke came on the heels of the death of her 15-year-old son, Dallas.
When she retired from teaching to take care of her mother, Kelley rented her house out to a seemingly innocuous brother and sister — little did Kelley know, the two had rented under false names. When her tenants gained access to Kelley’s personal information, which Kelley kept in her attic, they transferred the house’s title to a deceased grandfather. Within three days, the pair had sold the house for $300,000, packed up their belongings, and disappeared.
What that must have felt like, most of us can only imagine. No doubt it doesn’t help that the perpetrators are still at large.
But where there’s hardship there tends to be hope. Kelley’s daughter, who was offered full-ride scholarships to Brown and U C Berkeley, now has a daughter of her own. Of her granddaughter’s December 26th birthday, says Kelley, “I don’t put up a Christmas tree anymore — I put up a birthday tree!”
Buying presents should be a little easier now that Kelley can supplement her income by selling papers. Since she started selling Real Change three years ago, Kelley’s become one of the paper’s most successful vendors. If you ask her, though, that’s not what she likes best about the job.
“I love my customers… selling the paper is a reason to get up in the morning,” she says.
—Article and photo by JP Gritton