The Real Change Portrait Project


Paulette Bade

"Paulette Bade" Acrylic on Canvas by Oamela Hastings
Paulette Bade left Omaha when she was only 17. She worked for years in a nursing home in Portland. “There’s nothing like it. Backbreaking. You had 12 or 13 people by yourself.” The work was both physical and emotional: lifting and turning the residents and dealing with families, especially after someone had died. “That’s always heartbreaking.” “At that time they [the state] didn’t really know much about nursing homes. Now it’s three to four people by yourself, which it should have been to begin with.” After that, Paulette turned to bartending at a “Skid Row type” bar. That “was very, very exciting. Along the way I found out I was an alcoholic, so I quit drinking completely.” Bartending helped her decide to stay sober. “When you watch other people get drunk, you know what you did, too. Every day with drugs and alcohol, people don’t realize what they’re doing to themselves until it’s too late. I’ve seen a lot of people go down from drinking. I wanted to quit before it happened to me. I’ve been sober ever since 2003, and it’s a good feeling.” Paulette met her boyfriend when they were both homeless. They lived in Nickelsville together. Speaking of Nickelsville’s current troubles, she says, “I’m just glad I wasn’t there when it all hit the fan. They’ve got to do something about finding a better place to live. Everybody needs a place, some kind of home. Where are they supposed to go? All the shelters are full now: Tent City, Nickelsville, that’s all they’ve got left.”

Paulette was also homeless when two friends told her about Real Change. Real Change is her job now. She’s at Whole Foods in Ravenna every day. “I get here about seven in the morning and stay until about noon.” She comes back for three or four hours in the afternoon. “They know they can count on me. I’m here on Wednesday like clockwork with the new papers.” She says it’s important to have rapport with the people she works around. The workers in the store all know her and ask her if she is OK when she misses a day. When it rains, they don’t mind if she comes inside the store “and you never know when it’s going to rain around here.” Her customers know her well, too. She chats with them about the weather, what’s in the paper, her two cats (“my babies”) or anything else they want to talk about. One customer in particular “turned out to be a real good friend. She’s helped me out, and I’ve helped her out.” For the future, Paulette hopes to get a better place to stay. “I just live in a room right now, myself and my boyfriend and my two kitties, and it’s hard to live in just one room. For just one room, it’s pricey. It takes up most of my cash, so I do count on Real Change, very much.”

Artist: Pamela Hastings
Pamela Hastings has been sewing, painting, drawing, writing, and making dolls & sculpture since she was five. She has exhibited and taught internationally. Her work can be seen in several books on doll making and fiberarts. She has a studio on the Olympic Peninsula overlooking the Strait of Juan de Fuca. You can see more of her work at

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