Friday, January 9, 2015

I faced down my dragon

January 8, 2015
In this edition

When nothing else works
We turn to our most effective tool & it never fails
I faced down my dragon
How I walked away with my head held high
We bow to you 
Overwhelmed by your generosity
We're hiring
And you can help

When nothing else works
We turn to our most effective tool & it never fails 

"I am so lonely."

The woman sitting across from me in the Sophia's Place Day Center office laments, unbidden tears streaming down her cheeks. Ashamed of her admission, she tries to hide her face, but she knows she needs to talk to someone.

As Day Center Manager, much of my job entails tending to hurting human hearts. It's fair to say that everyone who walks through my doorway is hurting in some way. Professionally speaking, this is called "Trauma Informed Care". But I call it one word: Compassion.
Me on that actual day - I had Christmas lights in my hair for the yuletide amusement of Day Center guests.

Compassion takes many forms at the Day Center. Compassion is what inspires individuals and groups to donate warm, nutritious meals for breakfast and lunch to feed the bodies and hearts of guests at the shelter. Compassion urges community members to bring us gloves, clothes, hats, and coats to protect women and children experiencing homelessness from the wind, rain and cold. Compassion energizes our volunteers to give of their time and energy to helping the Day Center live up to its full potential of being a resource and comforting shelter to those in need. Compassion is the commitment and practice of staff and service providers at the shelter as we interact with this vulnerable population.

Loss and pain can come to anyone at any time. It takes a compassionate community to tend to the needs of its members, to help them through those tough times that are beyond what any individual can bear alone. Matching an individual's needs to the available resources requires knowledge about what is offered by literally hundreds of agencies and organizations, as well as creative problem solving to develop and discuss action plans and plausible solutions to so many of the accompanying issues facing individuals experiencing homelessness: domestic violence, disability, mental illness, dysfunctional family, lack of social support, unemployment, evictions, addiction, aging, insufficient income, health issues.

Many times I can offer resources that meet the needs of the individual, and it's a beautiful thing. Like the time I was able to help someone obtain transportation to the Social Security Administration, just so she could get her ID card and finally proceed with her housing. Or helping someone find professional clothing and makeup so she can feel confident at her interview and get that job. Or find a safe, warm place for them and their children to sleep for that night - one day at a time. The stories just keep growing.

But that day I realized that there was no resource, no agency, no program, no donation I could offer to the woman sitting across from me with the broken heart from a broken life. Yet ... I have compassion, and that may be exactly what she needs.

I handed her a tissue with an understanding smile and reassured her:

"Mmmm. Yeah ... loneliness ... I can relate. But you are *always* welcome here."
Carrie De Vault
Manager, Sophia's Place Day Center

I faced down my dragon

By Jennifer Kerr-Healy

When I arrived at Sophia's, I was lost
The circumstances in which I found myself,
Were as frightening, as they were tragic.
A new place full of unknowns filled me with trepidation.
That first night at the Emergency Shelter.

With time my reality changed,
When I first arrived at The Sophia Way I was sure I was losing my mind
if I had not lost it already.
Abuse, control, and fear does that,
to borrow a line from Dune
"Fear is the little mind killer."
When in fear, our thoughts become muddy, our focus blurred.

With time, I forged new relationships and I learned to trust again.
Most importantly, in myself.
I learned just because we stumble, does not mean we are doomed to failure.
I grew, learned to smile and laugh again.
The Sophia Way tempered me,
Took what was weak, and shaken
and through caring, understanding, and an ear to listen,
made it strong.

I faced down my dragon,
That which I had feared and dreaded.
Something I wouldn't have been able to do
If not for great staff at my side, cheering me on.
I came out successful, I slew my dragon.
And walked away head held high.

Without them, I fear for where I would have ended up.
Instead I stand here a success.
Perhaps not by the measure of wealth and power,
But in strength and perseverance.

I leave you with the words of Maya Angelou
"Woman, though you may face many defeats, may you never be defeated."

* This poem is written by Jennifer Kerr-Healy, one of the women in our program. She recited this poem at our Donor and Volunteer appreciation evening in December last year. She is currently working full time and will be moving into her own apartment later this month.
We bow to you
In recognition of your overwhelming generosity
We set an ambitious goal for our year-end fundraising. We set out to raise $150,000 in individual donations in the last quarter of 2014. That was close to double of what we had raised in 2013 during the same period. And the result? You helped us surpass that goal! We received a little more than $153,000 in donations from more than 375 individuals. This is huge! You have propelled us into 2015 with a strong financial foundation and helped change lives. A women has shelter and a pathway to a better future, as you read this, because you made it possible. We hope you are feeling good about that. We are tremendously grateful for your support for the mission of The Sophia Way.

We also received more than $80,000 in grants from foundations in the last quarter of 2014 (some preferred to remain anonymous). Thank you!
Beighle Family Foundation
Moccasin Lake Foundation
Byron W. and Alice L. Lockwood Foundation
The Norcliffe Foundation
The Charles See Foundation
Sill Family Foundation Inc.
Far Family Foundation
The Seattle Foundation
The McKibben Merner Family Fund
The Safeway Foundation
Medina Foundation
Verizon Wireless

Thank you for your caring support in assisting women from homelessness to independence. As always, we cannot do this work without you. Only with you.

We're hiring!
And you can help
Thanks to you, we are now in a strong position to expand our small, but mighty team. Filling these positions will allow us to grow our capacity to serve. We have these positions open:

Executive Director
We are seeking an Executive Director who is passionate, understands the critical role the organization plays in addressing the issue of homelessness for women in King County, and can lead us into the future.

Lead Case Manager
This position will provide services to clients and lead a team of Case Managers who provide tools, guidance, assistance with housing search, and referrals to clients in our shelter and housing programs for women. 

In addition, we are also looking for a part-time volunteer Development Intern. This is an excellent opportunity for an individual looking to learn more about a career in development and event organization.

For more information about any of these programs and to apply, please visit the jobs page on our website. Spread the word if you know anyone who might be interested in any of the open positions.

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.

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The Sophia Way is supported by United Way of King County