The Real Change Portrait Project


Brenda Williams

"Brenda Williams" Oil on board by Nicole Gelinas
“I enjoy people, I enjoy meeting people, and I enjoy interacting with people,” she said. It’s a trait that certainly serves her well when selling the paper to her customers in the U-District. Brenda grew up in California’s San Fernando Valley. She initially moved to Seattle in 1996 and fell in love with the city. “I really enjoy living in Seattle,” she said. “It brings a lot of opportunities, different locations, different people; it is a very versatile city. Seattle is pretty exciting once you are out here.” Brenda came to Real Change in May after working in retail for nearly 13 years. She credits Real Change with drawing out a lot of important characteristics and traits. “Real Change has helped me with a lot of things. It has taught me to be more understanding, sympathetic, compassionate, talkative and sensitive,” she said. “Furthermore, it has taught me how to deal with different personalities out there.” Brenda lives in a homeless shelter. She expects to move into housing within the next month. Brenda said her homelessness results from her former roommate being unable to pay her half of the rent, leaving Brenda to pay the full rent on her own, which she could not afford to do. Still Brenda is upbeat about her housing situation. “I don’t stress out over too many things,” she said. “I am a positive person.” When I asked Brenda what she had learned and what she wanted to share most about her time at Real Change, she told me, “I would like to thank my customers and people on the streets that I have talked to. It’s been a pleasure. It’s been fun, it’s been sad, it’s been compassionate, it’s been everything you can imagine being a vendor.”

Artist: Nicole Gelinas
Nicole Gelinas is a working artist, fine art photographer, and graphic designer located in Poulsbo, WA. Nicole graduated from Northwest College of Art with a BFA in Visual Communication, double majoring in Fine Art and Graphic Design. For more information about the artist, please visit her website at

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