Dear Readers, Customers and Community Members,
Real Change invites you to join us in celebrating the hard work of the vendor community during Vendor Week, from Feb. 17 to 23.
Real Change is a street paper and a member of the International Network of Street Papers: a global community that includes over 100 papers in 35 countries around the world. Real Change is the leading street paper in North America, offering immediate, low-barrier employment to 600 people experiencing homelessness and poverty each year.
Vendor Week was created by INSP to highlight the dedication and hard work of the vendor community around the globe, raising awareness about these newspapers. Real Change participates by pairing vendors with celebrity selling partners, who try their hand at selling the newspaper, seeing first-hand the impact, challenges and opportunities of this job.
This year, the selling partnerships will look a little different as we adjust to the new normal of the pandemic.
Celebrities will feature their selling partners online, through social media channels, encouraging paper sales using the cashless sales app Venmo. Follow @RealChangeNews on all social media platforms and make sure to use the hashtag #VendorWeek to follow along.
Pearl Jam’s Stone Gossard; artist and comedian Brett Hamil; activist, educator and abolitionist Nikkita Oliver; Real Change founder Tim Harris and many more Seattle voices will pair up with their vendor selling partners to see how many copies they can sell while raising awareness about street papers and Real Change. All income from paper sales will go directly to their vendor partners.
Myths and misconceptions surround unhoused people. A common refrain Real Change vendors hear is, “Get a real job.”
Rebecca Marriott, the Vendor Program manager, has some thoughts on that misconception. “Real Change vendors take their jobs seriously and care about the quality of the paper and their relationships with customers and readers. They are out there rain or shine — and mostly rain — bringing people the news that shapes our region. They are some of the hardest-working people I know.”
Rebecca has over 15 years of experience in workforce development. She has devoted her career to empowering people to identify their personal and professional goals and supports their paths by providing services and resources in a trauma-informed and individualized way. “The beauty of this program is that it is low-barrier, and you truly are your own boss. You set your own hours, develop your customer base and build the job that works for you.”
For many people in our region, the Real Change Vendor Program is the only work opportunity that meets their needs. One vendor shared that his Post Traumatic Stress Disorder made it difficult for him to show up to consistent office hours, and traditional employment didn’t work with his needs. As a Real Change vendor, he is able to set his own hours and bring his dog along, who offers comfort and stability when he feels anxiety related to PTSD.
A wide range of people work within the Vendor Program: from people making ends meet to those who have built a career out of their selling locations, regularly contribute to the paper and make their voices heard on editorial and organizational direction. What they each have in common is a dedication to the Real Change newspaper and the desire to work to earn an income, build on opportunities and join a caring and accepting community.
Our Club Status program showcases some of the vendors who have truly taken entrepreneurship in the Vendor Program to the next level. 300 Club Vendors sell 300 or more papers per week and have assigned selling locations that they have developed and access part-time. 600 Club vendors sell 600 or more papers each week and have access to their chosen selling locations exclusively. Two 600 club vendors, Darrell Wrenn and Donald Morehead, were recently elected to Real Change’s board of directors, where they will represent vendor perspectives in even greater leadership roles.
The vendors and celebrities partnering to sell the paper for Vendor Week this year have a special edition of the paper to share with you.
This week, we’re launching the new “Surprise, Reader Prize!” golden ticket hidden inside several papers for lucky winners to find and turn in to receive Real Change swag. Additionally, people who buy the paper via Venmo and read it online will be entered to win prizes, so be sure to follow celebrity posts online to get involved!
This Vendor Week is a chance to show your local neighborhood vendor that you see them and you care. Take a moment out of your day to pick up a copy from a vendor in your neighborhood, or if you’re staying home, read the award-winning journalism online and Venmo a vendor for the cost of the paper by visiting tinyurl.com/venmovendor.
Of course, Real Change vendors are out bringing you the paper every week, not just this week. Their commitment to local journalism is year-round, and we encourage you to get to know the vendor in your neighborhood — you may be surprised to learn their story and how they view their real job.
Camilla Walter, Development Director
Vendor: badge number, selling location | Community leader
Dawn Comiskey: #13757, Lake City Post Office | Emmett Montgomery
Vernon Cormier: #12884, QFC on Rainier | Marcus Harrison Green
Lorenzo Dabenzo: #14112, PCC on Union and 23rd | Evelyn Chow
David Dunn: #10353, various locations | Matt (Spek) Watson
Art Ermeloff: #11760, Lake City Bartell’s | Brett Hamil
Roy Fighting Bear: #14398, QFC or Bartell’s on Rainier | Cary Moon
Mark Hankinson: #10579, Capitol Hill QFC | Tim Harris
Trinity Holabach: #13612, Greenwood Ken’s Market | Hanna Brooks Olsen
Ramon Lopez: #10519, Lake City Bartell’s | Stone Gossard
Ron Woolms: #13908, Walgreens 15th and Republican | Nikkita Oliver
Read more in the Feb. 17-23, 2021 issue.