Friday, February 13, 2015

This is where I belong

February 12, 2015
In this edition

This is where I belong
Holding hands through celebrations and hardships
Kathy and the key to a new home
And new dreams, after years of homelessness
Looking forward 
2015 and beyond
Home for the Holidays
Great stories happen right here

This is where I belong
Holding hands through celebrations and hardships
 
Several years ago, as a single mom, I searched for services that could help me. I was able to find several resources and with those services, I usually had a case manager that was there to help me 
navigate unfamiliar territory. Some of these case managers were amazing and others were not. I knew that everyone deserved to be treated with dignity and respect and that did not always happen. I knew that I could help people if I had the right tools. So I went back to school, earned a degree in Human Services and set out to find a job helping people.
 
In October of 2013, I found The Sophia Way, and was lucky enough to join the team! I began working long overnight shifts at the Emergency Winter Shelter. I had never worked an overnight shift before and it took some getting used to. Although I was often tired on my way to work each night, seeing the clients come in from the cold, eat a hot meal, and get ready for bed each night, seemed to energize me.
  
After a few months, I was trained to work a regular shift at Sophia's Place, our 6-month, 21-bed program shelter that offers case management, life skill classes, and helps to provide a sense of community for the women while they deal with other aspects of their lives. I liked the change and got to know all of the clients very well. I often helped the ladies find resources, actively listened to them and shared many cups of coffee with several residents. It was during one of those shifts that I learned that a case management position was opening up at the office. I jumped at the chance! Becoming a case manager was what I really wanted to do. I applied, got the position and began readjusting to sleeping at night and working during the day.
  
I love being a case manager. I have had the chance to witness the amazing opportunities that The Sophia Way provides for our clients. I get to help people find resources that can change their lives. I get to listen to clients tell their story, where they have been and where they are heading. I get to celebrate their successes and hold their hand when they feel defeated. I get to call them with exciting news and I love to hear them tell me about the strides they are making towards independence.
 
Not every day is a celebration, but every day I learn more about what the women we serve need and how I can help them obtain those needs and reach their goals. I can confidently say that I have found exactly where I belong.
    
Rebecca Nelson
Case Manager, The Sophia Way
Kathy and the key to a new home
And new dreams, after years of homelessness
 
We first met Kathy when she and her child arrived at The Sophia Way Emergency Winter Shelter, operated by Catholic Community Services. They had each other and little else. Kathy had been on the road for a long time, traveling across the country to escape domestic violence in her home state. She left a good paying job and everything else in order to find a better situation for herself.
Kathy got the keys to her new home just a few weeks back. New city, new life - we couldn't be more excited for her!

After staying at various shelters in several states for the past four years, Kathy came to our Eastside Emergency Winter Shelter late last year. We soon had an opening at Sophia's Place, our programmatic shelter, and she moved in there. Once her immediate needs of shelter and food were taken care of, we discussed how we could help her find a more permanent place to live.
Despite being in a new city with minimal resources and no contacts, Kathy found her own housing and did all of the legwork herself, with a little bit of our help. Fortunately, she was approved for housing under section 8 at the beginning of this year. Just a few weeks back, she moved into her own home in Bellingham, with her child, and is in the process of getting settled for the first time in a long while. One of our case managers, Rebecca, accompanied her to the housing and helped her get comfortable. We provided her with all of the household items she needed, donated by generous donors like you, to get started in her new life in a new city.
 
In a situation that would have been intimidating for anyone, Kathy was her own best advocate. She took care of herself. She had a lot of spirit and she was never too shy to ask for the help that she needed. Thanks to her hard work and resilience, she is well on her way to living a normal life again.
Kathy was an amazing client and a good friend to many people at the shelter. She stays in contact with her friends she met through the program and we are very happy to have known her!
Looking forward
2015 and beyond

The Sophia Way has been extremely fortunate to earn the love and support of so many individuals, faith organizations, businesses, and foundations since its inception. You, along with our government partners, have made it possible for us to provide shelter and a pathway to independence for hundreds of women experiencing homelessness. It was your support and encouragement that helped us through some bumpy time during the last half of 2013 and beginning of 2014. Last year, our board made the decision to hire a professional Interim Executive Director, Rae Levine, to bring in stability, to give the board more time to find the right Executive Director (ED), and to strengthen our organizational foundation and processes during this transition period. More than six months and some tough decisions later, we are stronger than ever. Thanks to your incredible generosity, we ended last year on solid financial footing. This year, we are able to expand our direct client services staff. And, we are in the process of interviewing for new Executive Director to lead the organization into the future. Please watch for the announcement about our new ED in March/April.

In case you are wondering about our Auction, we are not having one this year. Instead, our BIG event of the year will be our Luncheon on Thursday, October 1st. Save the date on your calendar now! We will have more information coming your way about that in a few months.

Your support is going to be the most important asset for the new ED as he/she takes the reign. We are ready to move forward. Thank you again for walking with us on this journey of The Sophia Way.
Home for the Holidays
Great stories happen right here

Imagine a single mom with four children. Now imagine they don't have a home to go to and are looking for a shelter on a cold and wet winter night. This is the story of Hanna. At the end of last year, when she was looking for a shelter, she found out about the Eastside Emergency Winter Shelter (EWS) for women and families and was grateful to find a warm place to sleep and a hot meal, especially for all her children. It turned out to be a pivotal moment in her life. The shelter staff of Catholic Community Services was able to give her Family Housing Connection program resources and through that she soon found her own apartment. The apartment was a tremendous relief, but she was not prepared for what happened next! 

The need for permanent and emergency shelter services is greater than ever -- the EWS has assisted more than 225 individuals this winter alone.
A Bellevue city police officer, during his regular security check at the shelter learned about Hanna. He was so moved by her story that he called some of his friends and together they helped set up Hanna's new apartment with everything they needed to get started on the right footing. And the timing could not be more perfect - it was right before Christmas! Hanna and her children were able to spend the holidays in the security and stability of their new home.

It is indeed heartwarming to see community members stepping up to take care of others, like Hanna, who are not so fortunate. Unfortunately, for every happy story like Hanna's, there are many other not-so-happy stories of women and families who are forced to spend their nights unsheltered. There has been a huge increase in the number of people accessing the EWS for Women and Families this year and, we are very grateful that Catholic Community Services, working with our church partners, is providing shelter services at full capacity. We are actively exploring options for separate and permanent emergency shelter for women and families to meet the need. In winter 2014-2015, the EWS has served more than 225 individuals already, providing food, clothing, and shelter to women and families in need during the coldest months.

At the beginning of this month Catholic Community Services staff moved the winter shelter to Redmond United Methodist Church. We want to take this opportunity to thank them for hosting the shelter again this year. Our gratitude to St. Peter's United Methodist Church in Bellevue for hosting the EWS there from mid-November until the end of January. And many thanks to Catholic Community Services for operating the shelter. Together we are making sure that women and families have a warm place to go this winter.
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