It takes determination to advocate for the same thing for 30 years. But that is exactly what Laura Ditsch has done. Ditsch began advocating for people experiencing homelessness in 1989 in upstate New York when she was 21 years old. Today she is the Real Change advocacy department’s rep on the Vendor Advisory Board.
Ditsch was born in Boston, which means that as soon as she learned how to talk, she could talk Red Sox. “I missed the 2004 World Series Parade by one day,” Ditsch said. Yet, even though Red Sox is in her blood, Seattle is her favorite home base. “Some of the winters I have experienced on the East Coast, this weather — especially this winter — have been mild, which I like; and I like the culture here,” Ditsch said. Though she’s moved around the United States, she loves coming back to Seattle. She has lived in Seattle four times; her latest stint began at Christmas, 2017.
As a child, Ditsch had sight issues. Her vision was later corrected. “I had a slight astigmatism, but I still had better than 20/20 vision,” Ditsch said. On top of that, Ditsch has type 2 diabetes, which requires her to have a low-carb diet, which she did have under control. But, “with chronic homelessness, the diet kind of went to hell, and before I got it back under control again — when my housing got stabilized a little over a year ago — some severe damage had already been done to my eyes without me knowing it. Some extra blood vessels had developed,” Ditsch said. The sight in Ditsch’s right eye is now completely gone. She has had surgery on the left, and has another surgery coming up this summer. “It’s a race against the clock against cataracts,” Ditsch said. “I have some eyesight in one eye, and it’s not amazing or great, but I would like to keep what I have left,” Ditsch said.
Even with her medical conditions, it doesn’t stop Ditsch from doing what she wants. She has a degree in computer science and would love to one day combine that with homelessness advocacy.
She also has been working with one of her clients to be in a play called “Living Blind.” Ditsch has had to “learn new ways to do old things,” but has succeeded in doing so.
You can find Ditsch selling at her post at the Zeitgeist Coffee on Second and Jackson. She’s there in the morning.
Laura is one of 300 active vendors selling Real Change. Each week a different vendor is featured. View previous vendor profiles.
Read the full July 17 - 23 issue.
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