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“Real Change Became My Ministry”: Salesman Glenn Coles on Mental Health, Growth and Healing | July 20-26, 2022

For Glenn Coles, learning is a continuous journey. Coles, who turns 61 on July 25, moved to Seattle from
Chicago in 2017. Shortly after moving here, he heard about Real Change through word of mouth and has been a salesman ever since.

Coles especially enjoys the special interactions with Real Change readers and community members.

“When I’m out there in front of my clients, I want you to smile. I want to give you a reason to smile,” he said.

“I care about you. And, in turn, this exchange is therapeutic; it’s spiritual.

They are spiritual vitamins and they allow you to be healthy, to stay healthy… It is good for the soul. I feel like I’m doing something believable.

He also said that selling the newspaper helped him regain his sense of agency and advance a greater cause.

“So Real Change became my ministry,” Coles said.

“It’s more than a few dollars in my pocket. If I have 20 papers, I’ll probably give away five because I want you to read them, because I believe in the mission statement. And then I can look I can watch it work. And then it worked for me.”

From starting his own business, having kids, to buying a house at 22, Coles has done a lot in his life. He is also a longtime performer, playing instruments such as bass, rhythm and lead guitar, as well as piano.

Coles said he had to struggle and grow through many traumatic and difficult experiences. Music helped him through and heal from those times. However, in recent years he hasn’t had a chance to perform his music.

“I want music in my life again. I want to perform, because it was also a spiritual euphoria,” he said. “Being there and your audience reacting is euphoric.”

“You know you have to heal [mentally] just like how you have to heal if you cut yourself. You gotta heal,” Coles said.

Coles hopes to be able to start performing again soon, perhaps starting with the annual Real Change vendors’ picnic.

“I’m an optimist,” Coles said.

“You know, I’ll be 61 in two weeks. And I’m still learning. I am still learning myself.

Glenn Coles’ badge number is 13730. He usually sells newspapers in front of the Sounder on Fourth Avenue S and S
Jackson Street.

Guy Oron is Real Change’s staff reporter. Find them on Twitter, @GuyOron.