Rudy Cabonias is putting his life back together selling Real Change.
Cabonias lived in Phoenix, Arizona, until he was 13. That’s when he moved with his father to Omak, a town in Eastern Washington with a population of about 4,000.
A few years ago, discouraged by the lack of opportunity in Omak, he came to Seattle and was living in his car when it burned down.
“It was all I had left,” Cabonias said, “and it really messed with me. Life was really hard before that, and then it just got worse.”
He lived outside for a while and started selling Real Change with the encouragement of his friend, Jacob, who was already a vendor.
“I was tired of being broke,” he said. “Real Change is the first opportunity I’ve had to help me help myself.”
He’s only been a vendor for a couple of months, but Cabonias is already doing well at the job. Vendors can earn designated spots to sell if they sell 300 papers a month, and he’s on track to get a spot of his own. At the time Real Change interviewed him, he was selling with another vendor at Metropolitan Market in Queen Anne.
He’s in transitional housing now and looking forward to getting a car. He just got his first $100 saved, and he says that took him a long time. Cabonias says just having that first step done makes him feel like he’s on his way back.
He already has advice for new vendors: Don’t get discouraged if you have a bad day.
“Some days, I only make $20; some days, I do awesome,” Cabonias said. “It’s hard sometimes to keep a smile on your face, but it’s worth it. Real Change has opened up opportunities for me. I tend to be an introvert, but I like the people-to people interaction. I like putting a smile on people’s faces, selling papers or just telling them, ‘Have a good day.’ I recently went a whole day and made only $20, but I put in the effort the next day, and it pays back.
“So don’t give up. It will get better.”
Rudy Cabinoas’ badge number for Venmo payments is 14731.
Susan Storer Clark is a contributor and writing coach for Real Change. A former broadcast journalist, she is currently at work on her second novel.
Read more of the Mar. 15-21, 2023 issue.