At the Sophia Way, some of our proudest moments are when our clients successfully move to permanent housing. This is the fulfillment of our mission. Today we celebrate our client's move to a new home; a furnished apartment, fresh linen and a "Welcome Basket" full of goodies awaits her arrival. While there are many inspirational stories for us to share, I want to take a few minutes of your time to tell you about Cindy who recently moved to a shared apartment. Please read below "Cindy's Own Home".
We are also planning for our spring fundraising drive during the week before Mother's Day, May 12th. A generous donor has pledged to double or triple your gift depending on whether you are an existing or new donor, respectively. Having generous donors who are willing to double or triple our funding efforts is a rare opportunity so PLEASE spread the word about this GIFT! GROW YOUR GIFT to the Sophia Way ... it's easy and every dollar helps a woman on her journey from homelessness to independence! Please see the information to your right. GROW YOUR GIFT by spreading the word about this rare opportunity for the Sophia Way to raise its funding levels. THANK YOU.
Interim Executive Director
Cindy's Own Home
Cindy has struggled with mental health issues since she was a teenager, receiving doctor's care on and off since then. In spite of these challenges, she completed two AA Degrees and a Bachelor's Degree. With a combination of financial help from her mother, working part time and taking on temporary jobs, Cindy was able to be self-sufficient successfully living in an apartment. Unfortunately, Cindy's mother's financial circumstances changed. At the same time her temporary job ended. Although Cindy looked for more employment, she was unsuccessful in our depressed economy. She could no longer afford to pay rent leaving her apartment before her debt increased thus avoiding an eviction.
Fortunately, The Sophia Way had a place for her at our Eastside Winter Shelter where she stayed until it closed for the season. Cindy then applied to be accepted at Sophia's Place which proved to be a life saver for her. While at Sophia's Place, Cindy has worked very hard on her personal goals achieving measurable success.
Recently, she was able to move to an apartment with a woman she met at our shelter with whom she is now friends. Through our partnership with Home2Home, we were able to provide furniture for their apartment. We are thrilled that she and her friend will be financially independent needing no additional subsidy from The Sophia Way. We are very proud of them as they leave our shelter and begin their new journey of hope and stability.
This Mother's Day, we are starting a new campaign -- Grow Your Gift -- where every gift you make will either be doubled or tripled and with your employer matching can even be quadrupled! The 2013 One Night Count of homeless people in King County found at least 2,736 men, women, and children were without shelter during the three hour street count. This number is an increase of 5% over those found without shelter last year. That is indeed very troubling and goes to show how much more we need to do. We hope you will join us in our Grow Your Gift Campaign and spread the word among your friends, family and co-workers.
Stay tuned for more information in early May!
Microsoft Store Month of May Charity Partner
We are the charity partner for the Month of May at the Microsoft Store in Bellevue Square Mall. During the month the store and its staff will promote us, volunteer with us and host many of our events including software training for our volunteers, staff and clients. We will also have a month-long cell phone recycling drive there. Drop off your old cell phones and for every phone you donate, you'll be entered into a drawing for a brand new phone from the Microsoft Store! We will hold the drawing at the end of the month on May 31st. Start collecting your old phones lying in your drawers!
For more details check our website in May and follow us on Facebookwhere we'll post the latest updates about all the specific events that we will organize during the month of May at the Microsoft Store in Bellevue Square.
We marked one more milestone in The Sophia Way journey last month when we celebrated the Grand Opening of our Sophia's Thrift Shoppe. The opening of Sophia's Shoppe launched a new chapter in our organization's story. We can now provide employment training for our clients while simultaneously creating a valuable revenue stream for our agency. What exciting times!
I also want to share with you our most recent advocacy efforts to prevent tenant discrimination in the City of Kirkland. We have many clients who use Section 8 vouchers and are not protected from discrimination based on that. We are hopeful that our efforts in Kirkland to end this type of discrimination will resonate in other cities in King County, thus serving as a catalyst to level the playing field for Section 8 voucher holders. See our feature article below for more details.
As we look forward to the summer, we have many exciting programs and events on the horizon. For instance, we are the feature non-profit for Microsoft Store at Bellevue Square for the month of May. Look for more details in our next newsletter.
Interim Executive Director
City of Kirkland passes ordinance to prevent tenant discrimination
The Section 8 Housing Voucher Program is a Federal Government program that makes affordable housing available to low-income residents who would otherwise not be able to pay their rent in the private market. However, until now it was legal for landlords in Kirkland to reject a tenant solely based on their use of a Section 8 voucher to pay their rent.
On March 19th, the Kirkland City Council voted 4-3 to pass Ordinance O-4384, prohibiting this kind of housing discrimination against prospective tenants. The Sophia Way, along with many other shelter and subsidized housing programs including Hopelink and Imagine Housing, voiced its support of this ordinance and presented a letter to the Kirkland City Council stating its position. You can see the complete letter on Kirkland Patch Website here. Quoting from the letter: "This year's One Night Count of homeless individuals identified 197 unsheltered people on the eastside, a 42% increase from 2012. And the latest data from the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) shows more than 3,000 Kirkland households are paying more than 50% of their income for housing, placing them at great risk for homelessness."
Many low income residents rely on the Section 8 voucher program for their rent. That includes veterans, seniors, people with disabilities, and parents trying to move their kids out of situations of domestic violence. With limited housing options this type of discrimination only adds to their already vulnerable position, forcing them to live further from both their place of employment and valuable community services and resources.
There are still cities that allow discrimination based on the use of Section 8 vouchers. With your support The Sophia Way will continue to lead the efforts for affordable, non-discriminatory housing options for everyone in King County.
Make The Sophia Way your preferred charity in eScrip
Do you shop at Bartell Drugs? Then you can help us raise funds just by shopping there. Register for a 'B Caring' card and designate The Sophia Way as your favorite charity. Then whenever you shop, we get a certain percentage donated to us automatically. Yes, it is really that easy!
And, it doesn't end there. Until May 31st, for EVERY 25 new Bartell B Caring card registrations, The Sophia Way will be entered in a drawing for a $500 cash contribution from Bartell Drugs!
You can also support The Sophia Way just by dining out! Register your credit cards with eScrip and when you dine out, we can earn up to 5%. To check more details and to sign up visit the eScrip Dining Website.
Sophia's Thrift Shoppe Grand Opening
Thank you everyone who joined us for the Grand Opening of our Sophia's Thrift Shoppe on March 22nd. It was a great show of support from our board members, staff, volunteers, city representatives and many well wishers. We are honored to have such strong partners. We are sharing some photos from the Grand Opening below. If you have not visited our store yet, we hope you will very soon!