GiveBIG is here, and we need your help to reach our critical goal of $75,000 by May 5. Early giving has already launched; your support is vital if we’re going to meet our goal.
Please make your gift today and know that it will go twice as far thanks to a matching fund.
Real Change has always been about what we can accomplish when we work together across class lines and across our region. The work of this community shows that, together, anything is possible.
You may know that we rely on individual gifts for about 60 percent of our funding. What you may not know is exactly how we put your dollars to work every day.
The Vendor Center has been busy these past few weeks with new vendors — and those who’ve been here for years — who come in to meet friends, seek resources and build on their sales goals.
A new vendor orientation is always an exciting event in the Vendor Program. It’s a moment when someone chooses to take a step toward a personal goal, to try something new, to put themselves out there. Any adult can walk into our Pioneer Square storefront office, immediately get a job and become their own boss. The Vendor Program works for so many people because it is low-barrier and accessible.
More traditional work can present unexpected challenges for people who are living unsheltered or experiencing poverty. Some jobs require a resume or formal training. Some jobs would frown on an applicant coming into an interview with a backpack full of their belongings. Some jobs require specific hours or don’t allow you to bring your pet with you. Real Change is different. It meets people where they are and lets folks set up their work schedules and goals in ways that work for them.
Recently, a young woman came into the office curious about Real Change. She’d heard about it from a friend who was making great money selling the paper. When she walked into the office, our Vendor Program Director Rebecca Marriott was there to greet her with a cup of coffee. Field Organizer Caroline St. Clair set her up with the orientation. About an hour later, she was on her way out to a new selling location, a stack of papers tucked under her arm. Just like that, she was ready to start her new job.
Whether people use the income they earn to stay in housing or to travel to visit family or to start saving for a rainy day, the Vendor Program staff is equipped to help.
With homelessness rising among aging people in our region, income and supportive services are critical. Thirty-eight percent of Real Change vendors are between 50 and 59 years old, and 30 percent of vendors are over 60. Twenty-four percent of Real Change vendors report being homeless for between four and seven years. Forty-one percent of vendors report being homeless for more than eight years. For many, the work opportunity that Real Change offers is a trusted pathway to stability.
This work is vital and it is powered by you. Gifts at all levels make a direct impact on our team’s ability to respond to the needs of our community. From covering Case Manager Ainsley Meyer’s time meeting with individuals to a discretionary fund to support vendors with small asks like recovering a lost ID or transportation to an appointment, every donation has a real and lasting impact on the way our team is able to show up for our community.
The newsroom is also bustling, as Editor Ashley Archibald continuously offers readers new ways to look at Seattle. In recent months, we’ve welcomed two new journalists to the team, Staff Reporter Guy Oron and Associate Editor Tobias Coughlin-Bogue, both of whom have hit the ground running. Guy’s reporting on unionization efforts and environmental stories, like the push to divest state pension funds from fossil fuels, has made two recent covers. In Tobias’ new series, “In Their Own Words,” he interviews people experiencing homelessness about navigating this city. Arts Editor Henry Behrens always ensures a colorful and compelling visual journey to accompany the reporting.
When you make your gift to GiveBIG today, your contribution could help send a photographer to the front of a protest, get a journalist to a City Council meeting or fuel our arts editor’s time crafting an infographic to make data more accessible to the public. We rely on volunteers for copy editing and content, and we’re so grateful for their generosity and talent. It costs roughly $1,000 to print the paper each week, depending on the circulation numbers expected for that week’s edition.
The advocacy work at Real Change has been flourishing as people find a platform to work on the issues that matter most to them. I am so proud of the way our advocacy team centers issues that improve the material conditions of the lives of people experiencing poverty and consistently engage people with lived experience in this work.
When a vendor came to us last year to share his story of discrimination and disrespect when he was hit by a vehicle while riding a bike, the advocacy team sprang into action. They uncovered a history of racial and class disparity in enforcement of King County’s helmet law and worked to successfully repeal the harmful legislation. Vendors know they can trust that when they share their stories here they will find a caring community ready to listen, learn and take action when needed. Contributions to this type of bold, anti-poverty advocacy work power systems change.
From the welcoming space of the Vendor Program to the busy desks of the newsroom to the front of a picket line with advocacy, Real Change continues the work we’ve been doing for more than 27 years. With your support, we’re able to focus on the jobs, journalism and justice at the center of our mission.
GiveBIG is about people coming together and making collective contributions to our shared future. Let me take this opportunity to thank you for continuing to show up for Real Change, year after year. When you give this year, know that you are making our work possible. Thank you.
Camilla Walter is the executive director of Real Change.
Read more of the Apr. 27-May 3, 2022 issue.