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Marvin Gnad

"Marvin Gnad" Photograph by Sophie Bonomi
Marvin Gnad sells Real Change on the corner of First and Marion nearly every morning. He is one of the few people smiling at 8 a.m. He tells me his “joke of the day” (some truly hilarious), and he’s shared much about life on the streets. To be sure, it’s been tough. People have spit on him. Some have allowed their dogs to pee on his shoes. Most walk by him, eyes averted. Lucky ones have been kinder; they’ve bought his paper and taken the time to speak with him. Those of us who have gotten to know him will be celebrating his success on Friday, March 28, at 7:30 p.m. Marvin has paid his debts, and he is going home. Back to Fort Hays, Kan. Marvin once said to me, “How many people do you know who will live through hell to keep a promise?” He’s on the top of my list. Marvin was married for two months, and then his wonderful wife passed away in her sleep. He speaks of her lovingly. Sherry had two children who he promised to raise as his own. He had three sons from a previous marriage for whom he has been paying child support. His career has been varied and mixed. He was in the military. “Can you believe jumping out of airplanes when you’re afraid of heights?” He bought and sold antiques; he baked at the Alki Bakery; and he cooked at Randy’s Restaurant. All of these options disappeared when his health deteriorated. I ask him what he’ll miss about Seattle. He smiles. “This is an unusual town.” The Santa Crawl was one of his favorites, watching hundreds of Santas ho-ho-ho’ing between the pubs on a December Saturday. As of March 31, he will be debt free. April 1, he’s on a bus back home. Thanks to Rev. Sandy Brown for opening his conference room for the party, and to Tim Harris of Real Change for supporting the effort to celebrate Marvin. Marvin, you’ve made lots of friends, and I will miss you.



Artist: Sophie Bonomi
Sophie Bonomi is a photographer and senior at the Northwest College of art and Design. Her passion of working with Seattle's homeless has brought her to Real Change and given her the opportunity to spend time and learn from vendor, Marvin Gnad. After her initial meeting with Marvin she decided to delve deeper into the understanding of homelessness by spending a day out on the streets attempting to gain a scenes of what homelessness really is, she documented the day through photographs. Sophie continues to work with Real change as their photojournalist intern and strives to continue to push herself on a daily basis in hopes that her work and experiences will make a difference in the lives of others.


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