Thursday, February 2, 2012

"Real Change"

Song for this post: "When You're Smiling" ~ Louis Armstrong

For those of you who don't know, the blog I kept before this documented my experience while working for a nonprofit that helps the homeless population of Seattle.  It was a pretty life changing experience for me and made a huge impact on how I look at people, society, and how we interact with each other.

One of the other nonprofits we worked with is called Real Change News. It's a local newspaper designed to help homeless persons improve their situation.  All of the articles are written by the homeless and distribution is done entirely by the homeless. They buy papers at a minimal cost and resell them so they have money in their pockets.  There's one man who positions himself at the Starbucks on 23rd Ave S. & Jackson St who sells them in the mornings, goes to school in the afternoons, and stays at the shelter I worked at overnight.

It's an impressive program that's changed a lot of lives.

Since their workforce are essentially "paperboys" it's not uncommon to find them positioned all over downtown on weekday mornings. You can find someone selling Real Change newspapers at just about every street corner. There's one in particular who regularly catches my attention, makes my morning, and leaves a smile on my face.

He stands at the corner of 4th and Pike every morning.  His voice sounds like Louis Armstrong. He's tall and burly and has wild, dreadlocked hair. He's got the darkest skin I've ever seen and the contrast between that and his bright blue eyes makes his irises look like they're twinkling. 

John Hendrix makes it a habit to greet every single person who walks by with a BIG smile. He tells us all  to have a FANTASTIC day and gives us a good hearty, raspy laugh to make us smile. When some of us collect at the corner to cross the street, he greets us all in mass, "You all have a fantastic day! Each and every one of you are special!"  He laughs again. He calls me "young lady" and tells me never to lose my pretty smile. 

He makes my morning every. single. day.

It's humbling seeing someone who's fallen on such hard times bring all of us who are more fortunate such joy.  Perhaps many of us take our luxuries for granted and have forgotten to find simple joys.

Thanks, John...for keeping my feet on the ground.

Click photo for an article written by The Stranger about John.

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