Real Change can be a big help. For some vendors, it can mean the difference between a night in an apartment, a night in a shelter, and a night on a park bench. It pays for prescriptions, buys a plate of food, a cup of coffee, maybe some cigarettes.
But it will not make you rich.
That a vendor would give most of their earnings away might be a hard idea for some of us to grasp. When we think of philanthropy, most of us think of Matt Hasselbeck in one of those United Way commercials fingerpainting with kids or something. During the holidays, Leon Good donates most of the money he earns selling Real Change to homeless and low-income children. It seemed simple enough to him:
“When you’re blessed, you’re supposed to bless others,” he said.
This statement was the bold exclamation point ending the enigmatic sentence that was Leon’s interview.
His name, Leon Good?
“German as ever.”
Born in Ballard. What does he think of all that development?
“Development is development.”
How was ’Nam, where he worked as a cook, a bartender, and a helicopter’s door-gunner?
“How much time do you have?”
What did he do before he sold Real Change?
“Man, you name it!”
As I page through the notes on my interview with Leon Good, I realize that I think I know Leon without really knowing that much about him. I think of a Buddhist parable. Question: “What is the meaning of existence?” Answer: “Would you like some tea?”
Nonetheless, in some remote and indescribable way, it seemed fitting that Leon Good would give away most of his earnings to the children who stay at northeast Seattle’s Theodora Apartments.
Leon Good is a nice guy. You can find Leon at the Leschi Market.
—Story and photo by JP Gritton