Fellow Seattleites, Real Change readers and everyone who makes up the many intertwining communities across the region we call home — I’m your neighbor.
So is Nick Steele, a Real Change vendor who sells papers at Bartell Drugs on Rainier Avenue South. And Andy, who lets me borrow his yard waste bin when mine is full. And my friend — we’ll call him Jimmy — who sleeps in the doorway next door to the Real Change offices downtown and reminds me daily to stay positive by flashing me his (utterly charming) smile: He’s your neighbor too.
Join your neighbors
We invite you, neighbor, to join us on Thursday, Oct. 19 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Washington Hall, in Seattle’s historic Central District, for the Real Change “I’m Your Neighbor” 29th Anniversary Celebration. When you reserve your ticket to the event today, you help us close our anniversary fundraising gap of $78,124.
At the stunning Washington Hall, we’ll honor a stellar cast of outstanding individuals, including but not limited to Vendors of the Year Angie Brown and Ron Woolms, who embody the values we hold dear — you can learn more about Brown in this week’s paper, and check out the profile of Woolms in next week’s!
The event will feature comedy and live music, plus mouth-watering food from our Pioneer Square neighbor, OHSUN Banchan Deli & Cafe, and drinks from our generous sponsor, Topo Chico. Our goal is to raise $120,000 for our life-changing programs.
For our anniversary, we’re inviting our neighbors (that’s you!) to help us make our vision of a just, caring and inclusive city a reality — a place where all people have the means to live with dignity.
Over the last 29 years, Real Change has accomplished so much, arm in arm with our neighbors. With your support, we will continue to build on the programs that have provided a source of reliable income to thousands of people living unsheltered.
Real Change exists because of you. We’re able to welcome new vendors and develop new partnerships every single day because of you.
Lead your neighbors
Our “I’m Your Neighbor” event is an opportunity for those of us who dream of a Seattle where all people are cared for and treated with kindness to stand together and say, “This is what it looks like to be a good neighbor.” Oct. 19 will be a chance to lead by example, because we also know what that doesn’t look like.
It doesn’t look like people going hungry, living with no better option than to sleep outside or navigating ever more sweltering heat waves, torrential rains and freezing winter nights.
It doesn’t look like arresting people in a mental health crisis or for crimes that are directly correlated to living in poverty.
It doesn’t look like criminalizing the disease of addiction.
Many of us are stuck on the same endless loop: People are suffering, it’s heartbreaking, it’s frustrating, our leaders aren’t doing enough and our tax dollars are being piddled away (or worse yet, being used to cause more harm).
But what can we do about it? We feel powerless. We’re conflicted — which solutions are appropriate or effective? What is my role in all of this? And without the answers or a clear way forward, the loop begins again.
I’m here to tell you that, while there is no single solution, as complex, multifaceted issues require commensurate responses, we are moving the needle.
With jobs, journalism and justice — Real Change style — we’re supporting people through and out of homelessness and desperation, building on nearly 30 years of experience and measurable impact.
So what can you do? Stand with us. Support our work. And join us, in person if you can. The best part? You’ll have a great time!
On the big day, Oct. 19, our MC for the night will be Dan Hurwitz, who describes himself as a disabled, Black and Jewish writer, comedian and filmmaker. Real Change board director and longtime vendor Donald Morehead will co-host the event. Nick Steele will kick off the night with live music.
Don’t miss this opportunity to gather with Real Change and be a part of the action. This event is free and open to the public, with a suggested donation of $150 for anyone in a place to support our work.
Honor your neighbors
If you can’t make it, you can still help us raise the remaining $78,124 of our anniversary fundraising goal. Make your gift today in honor of the vendor who you call “neighbor.”
I joined Real Change in July as the development and communications manager, but Real Change is a cornerstone of this city — at least it has been for me, since I moved here in the ’90s as a teenager. My experience of Seattle has been anchored by the vendors I’ve seen across the city, day in and day out, over 20-plus years; their work is a perennial reminder that we are all in this together.
Real Change has also been a beacon of hope. Proof that we’re capable of addressing our most pressing challenges with collaborative, human-centered, creative problem-solving. And when we do, it’s a beautiful thing to behold.
I’m going to take a chance here and presume that you agree: We need more of this.
To me, “I’m Your Neighbor” challenges us to get to know each other better and to be intentional about cultivating meaningful relationships. What’s more, the message calls us to work side-by-side to build a community we can all be proud of. One that pulls from the margins, uplifts the voices of those so often ignored or silenced and actualizes what many of us already believe: that no one is OK until everyone is OK — to really, truly be good neighbors.
So please reserve your spot and turn out on Oct. 19 at 6 p.m. to celebrate anti-poverty advocacy, the hard work of our vendors and journalism that speaks to the issues that directly affect our homeless and low-income community members.
This annual event is a beloved Real Change tradition, and I feel genuinely lucky to be a part of it. You should too! Join me to honor those who bring our mission to life on the streets of Seattle, this place we call home, every day.
I hope to see you there!
Jessie McKenna is the development & communications manager for Real Change.
Read more of the Oct. 4-10, 2023 issue.