Clarification for Real Change Vendors

To the Editor:

I want to express my deep appreciation to Kathryn Fentress and Whatcom Watch for featuring Real Change for Whatcom County in its April edition. As we prepare to welcome Real Change News vendors to Whatcom County, we rely on supportive partners to help us spread the word about this new initiative in our community. So, thank you!

I want to clarify whom Real Change vendors are. It is true that Real Change News is a unique low-obstacle employment opportunity. However, it provides that opportunity not just to our neighbors who are homeless, but also to anyone in our community who might be near-homeless or living on limited means — in fact, to anyone who wants to sell the paper. For example, Jeremiah Crowder, our longtime Bellingham Real Change vendor, is not homeless. Similarly, some of the Real Change News vendors in Seattle have comfortable housing. For many of these men and women, selling Real Change News was part of their journey out of homelessness, and many of them have chosen to continue to work as Real Change News vendors because they enjoy it.

We look forward to engaging the Whatcom County community in our work to give folks a hand up rather than a hand out. I encourage anyone who would like to learn more about Real Change to contact me, and if you know or work with members of our community who might benefit from a Real Change vendor opportunity, please steer them our way. Thank you.

Becky Spithill