It was partly because she loves children that Rhead (pronounced “red”) ended up in Seattle. Also, she wanted to help her sister out. At times when her sister got in trouble with the law, Rhead would leave her job in Sacramento and travel north to take care of her sister’s kids.
“My passion is children,” she said.
Rhead, who was a foster mother in California, especially likes younger children: “Babies until about five or six. If there was somebody who needed emergency care that was older, I wouldn’t turn them down.”
She loves children because they’re fun and honest, she said.
Rhead once returned to Sacramento from Seattle. At the time the job market was bad. After four or five months, Rhead gave up looking for work there and came back to Seattle.
“When I was in California I had a hard time trying to get services. In Seattle, I found people to be helpful, but I had a wall up as tall as this building.” Finally, she said, “I caught on that they were trying to help me and not trying to be busybodies. I went with the program and did what I had to do to not be homeless.”
She heard about Real Change from two vendors she passed while she was going to give blood. “It wasn’t good for me to do that [give blood], but it was extra money.”
After giving blood four times, she decided to check out Real Change.
“Way better,” she decided. “Less painful.”
Rhead grew up in Los Angeles, where “you had to hold your own and bluff people to make them think that you were tough so they would leave you alone.”
It was particularly hard for Rhead because that wasn’t her nature, she said.
Rhead’s parents passed away a long time ago. She doesn’t know if her sister’s doing better.
“I like to think so,” she said.
She sold Real Change at the PCC in West Seattle for several years.
When she can, Rhead shops at PCC as well. Lately, though, “I’ve been going to the S-word — Safeway — it’s cheaper. I’m doing their organics there. The other stuff is poison.”
You’ll know Rhead if you see her. She’s always clad in the color red, her favorite since childhood.
She now sells at the Safeway at 23rd & Jackson
Susan Houlihan is a Seattle artist.