“One of the hardest parts of being homeless was losing a sense of routine. I used to love doing my eyebrows. One day, someone came up to me and pointed out how messy they had become. You don’t get time to do self care when you’re living on the streets. For the first few weeks after I became homeless, all I could think about was where to get my next meal or if I was gonna get a shower that day. Some folks are really nice and help show you the ropes though, but a lot of others aren’t that lucky. You have to learn where the spots are — to get free food, places to charge your phone, bathrooms. I always try to pass it on — to pay it forward, show others the kindness that was given to me. We’re all people, you know. We have to help each other.” — Evie Lovett
Evie was one of the first vendors I met during my time at Real Change. Her leadership, her connection with staff and other vendors and her ability to draw you in with her stories are all unparalleled. Her death is a monumental loss to this world — one I, unfortunately, can’t convey in just a few paragraphs. She had a positive impact on so many community members, from Tent City 3 to serving on Real Change’s vendor advisory board to working as a staff member at Real Change. She built relationships with people everywhere she went.
Evie’s story reminds me of the rose that bloomed from the concrete. The pain and trauma that she had endured were more than any individual should ever have to experience in their lives. Celebrated and revered for her resilience and strength amidst adversities, Evie was voted to receive the Vendor of the Year award at Real Change in 2019. However, too often people focus on individual perseverance (the rose blooming) and not enough on who poured the concrete around them in the first place or how to eradicate these barriers to growth and healing.
The last time I saw Evie, she was reeling from living back out on the streets due to COVID-19. She came into Real Change with her walker in her brown coat and big black beanie on. She sat down at the sales desk, behind the plexiglass, as we exchanged our weekly sentiments. “Evie and Eevee” she called us (the only person I enjoyed hearing that nickname from). People knew she was going through a hard time and would regularly send her papers and money via Venmo.
It was beautiful to see the ways that community members loved and supported her during her time on earth with us, and tragic that this mutual aid is too often still not enough for the shortcomings of our government and the state. I handed her items to her and she took her time in leaving. If I had known this would be my last time seeing her, maybe I would have paused, got up, and went around my desk to walk her out. Hold the door open and wish her well on her journey.
My wishes for Evie today are for her to finally rest in eternal peace and happiness. My wishes for us are to continue to fight like hell for the living, in honor and remembrance of the legacy she has gifted us.
Read more about Evie here.
Read more in the Oct. 7-13, 2020 issue.