Spring is in the air, and new possibilities are sprouting around us.
At Real Change, the chance of a fresh start is always available. As people mobilize around work opportunities, advocate for systems change and engage with local journalism, hope is alive and well here. Thanks to donors like you, we’re able to continue our work every day.
Please donate to our Spring Fund Drive today to keep Real Change resilient, through rain or shine. We have an ambitious but critical goal to raise $100,000 to grow our programs.
If Real Change programs are the roots of this organization, vendors are the stems from which all else blossoms. When they sell our newspaper, they reach into our communities, cultivating cross-class connections. They bring truth to light and share opportunities for us all to fight for economic, racial and social justice.
Hundreds of people experiencing poverty and homelessness earn an income selling our newspaper, yet anyone who has skipped up our steps knows that Real Change is more than a low-barrier work opportunity. Once you open our Vendor Center doors, you enter a field of support where people collaborate to celebrate successes and lean on each other through hardship.
Your gift today will water our roots so we stand firm against all adversity.
Vendors find a welcoming community, case management support, bathrooms, meals and so much more. Some have even found love.
“We’ve known each other since I was 16, then lost track of each other,” Adam Ruark said on meeting his fiancé, Wilma Hush.
The two reconnected at Real Change in 2015 after years apart due to new cities, new jobs and new relationships. Wilma remembers that “we found each other again and stayed together.” Adam proposed, and they plan to get married this year. According to them, it was an immediate yes.
“He can be a pain in the behind, but he is there for me,” Wilma said, laughing.
My conversations with Adam and Wilma reminded me that love isn’t built on grandiose gestures. Love flourishes when honesty, trust and reliability are maintained over time.
Recently, Adam lost three family members in one month: both of his parents and his older brother. Even while dealing with loss, Adam kept selling the Real Change newspaper at his usual spots.
“It keeps him motivated and his mind off the death,” Wilma said. Adam credits Wilma for keeping him going.
“I stayed together by staying with her. I’m doing a lot better now. I have cancer, and I’m dealing with that. I’ve had it for a lot of years. I’m strong; I’m able. I’ll just continue selling Real Change and I’ll be at 1st and Marion,” Adam said.
Vendors sell the newspaper for a variety of reasons. For some, it’s a career in media that they’ve worked at for decades. For others, it’s something they come back to on and off, depending on their circumstances. Regardless of how much they sell or how long it’s been, our doors are always open to anybody who needs it — no ID, no previous experience required.
For Wilma, her reasons for selling are simple. “I love being around people,” she said.
Give today, at a level that is meaningful to you, to ensure that this work is available to all.
“Real Change will help you if you’re honest with them and tell them what you need,” Adam said. “They’re there if I need help. They’re there to answer any questions and help me as much as I can. I went to doctors; they gave me phone numbers; they gave me clothes.
“They don’t give up on you. A lot of people will give up on you, but they don’t.”
With spring in the air, Washington’s state flower, the rhododendron, is set to flower soon. They bloom with the consistent nurturing of water, soil and sunshine. Real Change needs consistent nurturing as well — from readers, vendors, volunteers, donors and staff. Every single one of us plays a fundamental role in the growth of this grassroots organization.
Please make your gift in honor of Adam and Wilma or one of the hundreds of vendors who find a place to grow at Real Change.
Your gift helps plant the seeds of change.
Rain or shine, we bloom. Together.
Samira Khadar is Real Change's development manager.
Read more of the May 11-17, 2022 issue.