Friday, May 31, 2013

Meet Our New Executive Director

Friday May 31, 2013
Meet Our New Executive Director

Dear SriJan,  
It is with great pleasure that we announce our new Executive Director, Christie Paneiro. We discerned and searched for the best person to fit this position.  Effectively serving our clients is our tantamount goal so we needed someone who has the people and administrative skills to facilitate this goal while effectively working with our dedicated staff on this new journey of The Sophia Way in a fiscally responsible manner.

After our interviews we realized that Christie is the person who can achieve these goals.

When speaking with Christie, she said  "I have some pretty big shoes to fill!" I know it can be daunting to follow in the footsteps of both Helen Leuzzi, our former director, and Karina O'Malley, our interim director. In reality, we don't want her to fill either of their shoes. We want Christie to walk the journey with us in her own inimitable way while leading us into the future. We have a new 21 bed shelter, a social enterprise "Sophia's Thrift Shoppe" with its job training program and we are serving many women who are walking their path from homelessness to independence. We believe that Christie is the woman who will actively assist these women toward achieving financial stability and independence.

Janet Donnelly
Board of Directors Chair
Message from Christie

I feel so very privileged and excited to be a part of this amazing organization. My passion for empowering women and ending homelessness has taken me to this wonderful step in my life's journey. I am guided by the principles of social justice utilizing a holistic strengths-based perspective when relating to people and their environments. The importance of community cohesiveness and relationships is vital and I look forward to working with and meeting our amazing supporters, clients, partners, advocates, and volunteers.
Thank you!
Christie H. Paneiro, MSW, MPA
Executive Director

Home-cooked Meals for Our Ladies
Our amazing volunteers provide healthy meals to our women at our shelter seven days a week, 52 weeks a year.

Our thanks go to St. Luke's Lutheran Church for hosting our first barbeque this past month, breaking in the new grill! There was a full turnout of shelter participants who enjoyed burgers and salads. The weather was beautiful, and we hosted the BBQ on our patio and enjoyed a lovely spring evening. The event met with rave reviews and we would love to have more events like this.

Anyone can prepare a dinner for our 21 women at our Sophia's Place Shelter at St. Luke's. You can either drop off the meal at Sophia's Place at St Luke's or stay to serve and enjoy a meal with our clients. Sharing a meal with our clients is a great way to get involved with The Sophia Way and to help us build a community. You can sign up for one day or you can sign up to provide meals on a regular basis. If you are interested, send an email to Karie at
In This Issue
Home-cooked Meals for Our Ladies
Microsoft Store Charity of the Month
New Donated Storage Space

Microsoft Store Charity of the Month

The Microsoft Store at Bellevue Square Mall designated us as their feature charity of the month for May. We hosted many meetings and training sessions at MS Store; their employees also volunteered for us during the month.


On May 7th we organized a training session for our volunteers. On May 23rd, some of our clients got trained in Microsoft Word -- creating resumes, simple budgeting and so forth, as part of our ongoing skill development program for our clients.
Volunteers from Microsoft Store at our storage unit.

Five store employees also volunteered with us to build shelving units for our Sophia's Thrift Shoppe storage unit on May 22nd. After their hard work they stopped by our Shoppe to take advantage of our bargains on high quality items!
We want to thank Microsoft store for this wonderful partnership opportunity! 

New Donated Storage Space

Newcastle Heated Storage has donated a 10'x10' storage space for us to use for our clients or organizational use. And, that's not all! When you rent a storage unit there, you can donate the $20 referral fee to The Sophia Way - just let them know that we sent you!
Post Memorial Day Sale at Sophia's Thrift Shoppe

This Saturday, June 1st EVERYTHING in Sophia's Thrift Shoppe is half-price. That's all our clothing, books, DVDs, household goods -- everything is 50% off. So stop by, look through our collection of quality items at bargain prices, and find your treasure! One Day only.

Note: The Store hours are changing starting June 1st. New hours are: 10:00 am - 5:00 pm on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday; 12:00 noon - 7:00 pm on Thursday; closed on Sunday and Monday. Visit Sophia's Thrift Shoppe webpage for further details. our address is: 13219 NE 20th St Suite 200, Bellevue WA 98005.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Beyond Shelters: Meeting a Client Where She Is

Our goal at The Sophia Way is to assist women while they are transitioning from homelessness to independent stable living. However, reaching that goal is always challenging and in some scenarios almost impossible. I want to share the story of one of our clients, we will call her T. D., who has a psychological disability that makes it very difficult for her to be completely independent. We are helping her find stability; the homeless community has come forward to help her as well. You can read more about her in our feature story below.

Today is Seattle Foundation's Give BIG campaign. When you  participate in Give BIG today, we would appreciate you choosing The Sophia Way to receive your donation. I want to extend my sincere gratitude to the Hayes Family Foundation for offering a 2 to 1 challenge grant for The Sophia Way - making every dollar count three times. See many more great reasons to give BIG today in the article on the right.
I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who contributed towards our Grow Your Gift Campaign last week. We have raised more than $11,000 including matching donation. The best part - we were able to reach out to many new donors. That is always very exciting. Thank you for getting the word out.
In Peace,
Karina O'Malley
Interim Executive Director
T. D. is a Veteran

T. D. has been homeless for five years and involved with the Sophia Way off and on for three years. She is a disabled veteran. Her disabilities are not visible; they are internal. Her disabilities inhibit her ability to interact with people in a "normal" way. T. D. talks to herself, sometimes argues with herself. Many people don't understand her and find her frightening. They don't want her around them.

She tried living in an apartment by herself. This lasted a few months, then T. D. was asked to leave because she had damaged a wall during a panic attack as she believed herself to be trapped and had to escape. There were also noise complaints from neighbors concerned that someone was hurting her.

T. D. tried staying in our program shelter. The program shelter proved to be too restrictive for her; she could not meet the expectations for program participants. She could not always be quiet when quiet hours started; nor could she always understand why the staff had issues with her. Sadly, she was again asked to leave.

She spent most of the winter nights at the Sophia Way's Eastside Winter Shelter. This shelter, with its low barriers, worked out the best for T. D. She could be accommodated more easily by moving her sleeping area away from others, giving her time to take a breather outside and not pushing her to conform to programmatic expectations. With two staff on duty, one could sit with T. D. for a bit and calm her while the other was still available to attend to the needs of the rest of the group.

When the Eastside Winter Shelter closed, T. D. had nowhere to go.  She stayed in hotels, and then ran out of money. She continued case management with the Sophia Way and to explore housing options.

The Sophia Way called a contact at a self-run homeless encampment and discussed the challenges T. D. was facing. The Camp welcomed T. D. into their community. Although there have been challenges, all parties concerned have strived to make this work for T. D. and for the community. This gives us hope for a good outcome for T.D.

Community Brunch for our Women
Last Saturday, May 11th, our clients had a wonderful time in our community Brunch. A high school intern completed her senior project by putting together this event; local faith organizations donated food and space. The women in our shelter and housing programs, along with their volunteer Companions, had a good time sharing a meal, choosing clothing and having their nails painted.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Happy Mother's Day Weekend

"Who ran to help me when I fell, And would some pretty story tell, Or kiss the place to make it well? My mother" - Ann Taylor.

On Mother's Day we celebrate mothers everywhere. They give us our roots and they give us our wings. At The Sophia Way we are proud to work with many incredible women every day. Our clients are grandmothers, mothers, sisters, daughters and aunts. Life's circumstances beyond their control have led them to sleep on the streets, in their car or ride the night-owl bus - just to be safe. They take great care not to be visible - hiding out of our sight. But part of our work is to make that situation visible to everyone with the hope that our collective consciousness will not allow such a situation to continue for women who are struggling to maintain hope and dignity.

Thanks to all the donors who have helped us raise $8,000 in our Grow Your Gift Campaign thus far. We are grateful for your support. We need to raise another $17,000 to reach our target by the end of this Sunday, Mother's Day. Let us know you are there to lend a hand. And, let your mother know that you have honored her by supporting women in need.

Have a wonderful Mother's Day.

In Peace,
Karina O'Malley
Interim Executive Director

Thursday, May 9, 2013

From sleeping in a car to community housing

When Heather came to The Sophia Way, she was sleeping in her car. But she still managed to work each day. Heather suffers from mental health issues; in spite of this challenge she persevered to earn a BA Degree. We introduced her to the Safe Parking Program at Lake Washington United Methodist Church. This program provided a place for her to park each night and sleep safely. When we opened the Eastside Winter Shelter in November, she moved there and was able to sleep inside on a mat. In December, we opened the new Sophia's Place at St. Luke's shelter, doubling our capacity. We were able to offer Heather one of the cubicles, which provides privacy and a raised bed. We later had a vacancy at Holly House, a community house that The Sophia Way operates. Heather applied for admission, was accepted and moved in. We believe the increased stability offered at Holly House will enable her to increase her employment options.

Heather is one of our many clients who are able to take advantage of our services and move towards independence. We are able to do this critical work because of your continued support. We cannot succeed without you. Only with your continued support and engagement can we continue to improve the lives of those in crisis. We need your help now to spread the word about our Grow Your Gift campaign to your friends, family, neighbors and co-workers. Forward this email, call them, share on Facebook / Twitter or talk to them in person. Donation from every new donor gets TRIPLED by our challenge grant donor. And, DOUBLED for all existing donors. This is a great opportunity to stretch your donation further -- making every dollar count more. PLEASE help us raise our funding levels so that we can help more women. Thank you!

In Peace,
Karina O'Malley
Interim Executive Director

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Grow Your Gift this Mother's Day

On Mother's Day, we honor our mothers for the amazing work they did meeting our basic needs and nurturing us into independent adults. They taught us how to share, to love and to hope. During the week leading up to Mother's Day May 12th, we are asking you to honor your mother with a charitable contribution to The Sophia Way. This week only, one of our generous donors has pledged to match donations from any new donors two to one -- growing your gift to three times the original amount. Please reach out to your friends, family members, co-workers, and neighbors to tell them about The Sophia Way and this rare opportunity to GROW their donation...two to one match...every dollar counts! Our donor will also match donations from existing donors one to one, doubling your contribution.

Sophia Way is a unique program serving adult women experiencing homelessness in King County. The women we serve are daughters, sisters, aunts, and mothers. In addition to meeting the basic needs of shelter and food we also provide the nurturing services of case management, counseling, education and community building. We start with the critical emergency services, then journey with our clients on their road to independence.

The number of women requesting services is growing. If you feel called to join us, go to our website and donate what you can, remembering that there are many who cannot afford to give in these tough times. And let your mother know that you are honoring her by helping The Sophia Way to be a companion on a woman's journey from homelessness to independence. Thank you.

In Peace,
Karina O'Malley
Interim Executive Director