The Real Change Portrait Project

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Dwayne Stelivan

"Dwayne Stelivan" Drawing by Bruce Enns
If you’re in or nearby Whole Foods sometime, you might hear someone singing, “Keepin’ informed is so easy when you’re doin’ it from Real Change, Re-al Cha-ange, Re-al Cha-ange.” Then you’ll know you’ve found Dwayne Stelivan. Whole Foods told Dwayne he couldn’t sell in front of the store. He wasn’t on the property; he was on the curb, on public right-of-way. But someone from Whole Foods called the police. Dwayne called Real Change. “They said, ‘Well, Dwayne, you’re in the right. If you are not afraid to stand up for yourself there, they can’t do nothing,’ and sure enough the police never did say anything to me.” Dwayne has his 7-year-old son with him when he sells Real Change. After two or three hours at Whole Foods, they quit and go to the nearby skate park. They both have skateboards. “When I fell the first couple of times I was laying there — ‘What was I thinking? I’ve got up in age.’ But it’s working: I got the skateboard to motivate him.” Dwayne only sells Real Change on weekends; four days a week he has a job with the Pike Market Food Bank, driving a truck to pick up donations and deliver food, as well as giving out food to people on site. He started at the food bank as a volunteer, doing community service to pay off a parking ticket. “I enjoyed it, so I just kept volunteering, even when I didn’t have a parking ticket. Recently I got another ticket. Sure enough, they still were letting you do your service there. The timing was just right. They had just one guy in the food bank with the management, and so they hired him some help and it turned into employment for me.”

On Mondays Dwayne mentors kids at an alternative high school. “The same thing that they’re facing now is the same thing that we faced. We’re living proof that you can make it through and give back to the community. You don’t have to get caught in all the potholes that are in your way. You can go around them. Going to school and applying yourself is one of the ways around all the nonsense.” Dwayne and his mother and sisters moved to Seattle nine years ago. “I was born and raised in Greenville, Miss. Beautiful country, beautiful people, Southern hospitality.” He has unfinished business there. “My grandmother owned a house, but my parents and my uncles didn’t keep the taxes paid, so it was auctioned off. I would like to try to reclaim that property. The land is still there.” Real Change is helping make that possible. “Real Change ain’t going to change the world. It’s not going to stop exploitation. It won’t stop people from taking advantage. But it does help. People who support Real Change know that. Anybody could sell Real Change. You can make your own hours; you could make your own location. You can work for yourself.”


Artist: Bruce Enns
Bruce's Bio here


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