Our vendors: Rachel Reynolds (Real Change, Seattle, Washington, USA)

By Lindsay Hueston, Real Change

Spend a few minutes with vendor Rachel Reynolds and you’ll learn that she loves the state of Montana enough to name her new dog after her favorite place in the state, an integral part of Rachel’s childhood: Libby, Montana.

Libby and Rachel are inseparable. The sprightly Chihuahua-terrier puppy is Rachel’s third service animal.

Photo: Jon Williams

A native Seattleite, Rachel spent her summers and holidays in Montana. Her mother’s side of the family hails from the state, and Rachel relishes the time she spent there growing up. “My mom would travel in her Volkswagen with four kids, to visit my grandmother and uncle,” she said.

“I was born in Spokane, Washington. There’s roots in Montana. My mom lived in Libby, and Seattle was where I grew up. We would go to Montana every year, every summer, to visit my grandmother and my uncle and stuff. And then my uncle, before he passed away, he introduced my stepdad to my mom.”

Rachel particularly enjoyed spending the Fourth of July there with friends and family.

But she also enjoyed Seattle as a child, and recalls fond memories of the Smith Tower, where she likes to sell the paper today.

“When I was a little girl I saw the Smith Tower, so pure and white, and I fell in love with it,” she remembered. “I’ve been up there once or twice. It’s an amazing building, the Smith Tower, it’s just — I really like the Smith Tower. There’s so much history there.”

Standing at the base of the tower, Rachel loves getting to know the people who walk around Pioneer Square. She said people recognize her, selling with her disability badge. Seattle’s sit/lie ordinance does not allow people to sit on sidewalks, but vendors with a disability badge can while selling the paper.

“I’m not the only one who’s going through a hard time, there are always people going through a hard time.”

When she’s not selling Real Change, Rachel enjoys crafts, or practices making her balloon animals for when she performs as a clown. She also likes to spend time training Libby — “she’s come a long way since I’d had her for a week” — as well as advocating for people with disabilities and service dogs.

Rachel became a vendor because she wanted to get involved with Real Change: “To tell people about the seriousness of homelessness, all the services cut, that people need — it’s sad because over the years I have had to fight for what I need. Real Change, you guys are activists.”

She appreciates that Real Change cares about people. She published a poem in the paper in December titled 12 Days of Homelessness at Christmas. “It got in the paper — that meant a lot to me.  I like to do stories about homelessness.”

Full of passion, Rachel wants everyone to know: “I just want to bring joy when I sell the papers and talking to the customers, because there’s lonely people out there. And I’m not the only one who’s going through a hard time, there are always [people] going through a hard time.”