A lesson in living Finding our humanity in difficult times
Nemo becomes a citizen A Companion's story of walking alongside Nemo
Just three more weeks to our Luncheon Three reasons you don't want to miss it!
Changing lives one woman at a time
Would you lend an ear?
A lesson in living
Finding our humanity in difficult times
On October 5th, 2009, I started my first overnight shift at the Sophia Way. Much has changed in the last five years. No longer is the Sophia Way servicing a small handful of clients with mats on the floor, transitioning from one weekend shelter host site to another every other month. In these five years I have seen Sophia Way grow to serve three times the number of clients in the shelter. We have moved from mats on the floor in a small room to a beautiful shelter where each women has her own safe space that she can call her own. We have also added to our programs such as taking on the Day Center. It was exciting for me to help open that program in April as the Day Center Manager.
What keeps me at The Sophia Way, however, is not the growth, but what originally attracted me to this organization: seeing the humanity in the clients we serve and operating with the recognition that these are adult women who deserve dignity and respect.
I have now held every possible, past or present, direct service position at the Sophia Way, and feel I have a good understanding of the services we offer. I am proud of both the services we offer and the staff offering them, knowing that each of us bring compassion and dedication to our work in helping those in need.
I also marvel at our wonderful and numerous volunteers whose compassion and dedication is equally apparent. From the volunteers I met at our host sites where I started this work to the numerous volunteers I have the pleasure of interacting with in my many roles, each of them is a blessing to the Sophia Way.
Most of all, my interaction with clients is what inspires me. Each and every woman is going through immense struggle and stress which only she fully knows. Yet despite existing in such difficult times these women persevere, striving to achieve their goals and holding compassion and concern for others while doing so. This is a lesson in living that they teach me every day.
When I first met my companion, Nemo, a Somali woman, she was no longer homeless, but living in an apartment, which The Sophia Way had helped her to obtain through Section 8, a federal housing program. She felt herself to be very lucky to have a job, because she was not a citizen, her English was poor, and she could not read or write. Her overriding concern was to get her citizenship. She knew she would have to pass a test but was almost in despair over how to do so. So, not knowing how much time before her test date, we started working to cover all bases. First, we drilled on the civics & history questions. Then we worked on a vocabulary list for reading and writing. She studied for the test questions by listening to a tape, but the most difficult part was writing.
When she finally received a date for her exam, it fell at a time when I would be traveling out of state, and we were both terribly upset. But another companion, Ellen Rider, offered to fill in for me and take my friend to the USCIS and give her moral support. She passed! All three of us are so thrilled! My husband (at her request) and I took her to a Somali restaurant to celebrate, and both Ellen and I accompanied her to her swearing-in ceremony.
Proud Nemo after her swearing-in ceremony showing off her citizenship certificate.
Nemo has taken the first step to a better life. Now she wants to continue learning to read and write, and I was able to find some excellent materials at a store for home schooling. Her next goal is to learn to use the internet and email. It is so exciting to share this journey with my new friend.
There are many reasons why you don't want to miss this year's luncheon. But we heed our expert editor's advise and decided to give you only three!
First, we have Rex Hohlbein, Founding Executive Director of Facing Homelessness, as our keynote speaker who will be sharing many inspiring stories behind some of the most beautiful faces he has captured in his Homeless in Seattle project. Did we also mention that Amy Walen, the Mayor of Kirkland, will be our emcee? You can read more about them on our event webpage. Second, Red Lion Hotel, Bellevue is sponsoring this Luncheon for us, which means, you get the warm fuzzy feeling of knowing that 100% of your donations will benefit our programs assisting women from homelessness to independence. And finally, there is a beautiful energy when so many wonderful people like you come together for one cause. We promise, you will leave the Luncheon inspired.
We are very excited about how our Luncheon is shaping up and we can't wait to share that with you.
Sometimes all you need is for someone to listen to you
If you are inspired by Nemo's story, consider volunteering as a companion for one of our clients. Often, all it takes to make a difference in someone's life is to be available, accepting, and a good listener. As most of our companions would tell you, it is a life changing experience.WomanSpirit Center provides necessary training and guidance and our existing companions provide peer support. If you are interested, visit our Companion Program webpage or email us at:firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Sophia Way Companions with our Companion Coordinator Evelyn Wemhoff
The mission of The Sophia Way is to help end homelessness for adult women in King County by providing shelter, life skills training, social services and supportive permanent housing, offering a path from homelessness to stable independent living.
The Sophia Way is supported by United Way of King County