Change can’t wait.
As regular readers of the journalism in these pages, you know that we need to address inequities at the systemic level, and we need to do so now. And as customers of your neighborhood vendor, you know personal transformation and small-scale action can have a powerful ripple effect.
That’s why we’re launching the Change Can’t Wait fund drive. It’s about empowering individuals through opportunity and services. It’s about shifting systems to address root causes of housing and income inequality. It’s about building on the momentum of social justice in Seattle and beyond.
But most fundamentally, it is about securing a future for our community to do this transformative work every day.
We need to raise $130,000 by July 12 to keep our doors open and programs running. That’s a significant amount of money, and it’s critical to Real Change’s sustainability. Please consider making a donation today at any level.
The paper that you’re holding in your hands is a powerful conduit for change.
It is a vital source of information, keeping people across Seattle informed and engaged on the issues that shape our city. It is a megaphone for the people, amplifying the voices and stories that too often go untold in mainstream media. It is a catalyst for engagement as readers learn, grow and mobilize to take action on key local issues.
And importantly, it is the product of a local entrepreneur that puts more than $1 million directly into the pockets of vendors each year. The Vendor Program at Real Change connects hundreds of people to meaningful, low-barrier work and an opportunity to earn an income.
That means vendors like Dhannie Crenshaw, who sells the paper at the Magnolia Metropolitan Market.
Dhannie became a Real Change vendor last summer. Her story starts with her dog, Princess Khandie, a gentle and sweet blue nose pit bull. Princess Khandie was underweight when a resident of the shelter Dhannie was staying at found her. Since then, the two have been inseparable. One day in August, Princess Khandie led her to Real Change.
We were hosting the monthly vet clinic run by Seattle Veterinary Outreach that provides free veterinary care to those who need it. Dhannie showed up with Princess Khandie, looking for a much-needed check up, and she asked about the newspaper program.
“I became a vendor getting vet care for Khandie,” she said. “I thought, ‘I can do this.’”
Dhannie got to work, quickly building up her customer base and selling location in Magnolia. Her regulars loved seeing Princess Khandie help selling.
“She’ll go up to people and say hi. She’ll dance around. She puts on a show!” Over time, Dhannie grew into a place of stability. She could afford care for Princess Khandie and school to pursue her dreams.
“There’s been so many opportunities for us,” she said.
This model of empowerment and opportunity all starts with these 12 pages of newsprint.
As Dhannie put it, “The best thing you can do for somebody is help them find a way out. They’ll tell you what they need and everything else.”
The Vendor Program here believes in meeting people where they are. To us, this means trusting individuals to lead. It means making resources available and creating a supportive community to lean on if things don’t work out.
The Vendor Program staff, a small but mighty team that includes a former vendor, is continually seeking feedback on programs from participants. Our team understands that vendors are the experts of their work, and we look to vendors to learn how we can make programs more accessible and successful for each individual.
The Change Can’t Wait fund drive will allow us to keep our doors open and the paper published. Each week, it costs around $2,000 just to print this paper. That’s not counting payments to journalists, artists or other contributors: That is just to print the newspaper that vendors sell each week. And each week, hundreds of people rely on this paper to earn an income and meet their needs.
Dhannie knows that Real Change works because she has lived it.
“If you really want to invest in something that changes people’s lives instantly — not a week from now, not a year from now, but instantly — this is the organization to do it,” she said. “Because the papers that we buy, that we instantly pick up, make sure that we instantly eat.”
Over the years I’ve spent in this old brick building in Pioneer Square, I have been honored to witness the power of this special place. And I have changed — as I have gotten to know inspiring people and learn from grassroots movements. I have met countless people, like Dhannie, who have flourished with the support and opportunity offered by the Vendor Program here. Your gift today will help secure a future for change that we can all believe in.
Thank you for being a part of this movement.
Before you go! Real Change exists to provide opportunity and a voice to people experiencing homelessness and poverty while taking action for economic, racial and social justice.
Our vendors sell our weekly newspaper all over Seattle and the surrounding area, and they rely on the support of our readers to make an income.
Enjoyed the article? Venmo a vendor $2, the cost of a paper, to support their work!
Read more of the May 17-23, 2023 issue.