Thursday, May 14, 2015

News From The Sophia Way

A note from our new Executive Director
Angela Murray                 

 I have been here almost a month and here is what I've learned and observed so far.                        

  1. I have a lot to learn.
  2. Repeat number one.
  3. The Eastside is an incredibly generous and supportive community.
  4. Our case managers, Day Center and Shelter staff, and service providers work tirelessly to advocate and serve our women.
  5. We can't do this important work without our Volunteers - especially our dedicated Board of Directors.
  6. A woman has full time job at a grocery store and still cannot afford housing.
  7. Another woman who works two jobs, catches up on her sleep by riding the bus.
  8. The faith based organizations and their compassionate congregations consistently ask "How can we help? What do the women need?"
  9. 21-the number of beautifully sewn handbags, with inspiring quotes, that were so lovingly stocked with wonderful toiletry items that were brought in and donated by a business owner.  And she's bringing in more this fall. 
  10. We have a lot of work to do and I'm so grateful to have the opportunity to help lead The Sophia Way.  THANK YOU.
Best wishes,
Angela Murray
Executive Director

Tracey gets a job and a home!  
She turned her obstacles into opportunities
It's a great feeling to be handed a new set of keys! Tracey received her set of house keys on Saturday, March 21. She was going to rent from a community member who graciously offered to rent or share her Bellevue home with a Sophia's Place resident. Tracey has shown great determination since she entered the shelter 8 months ago with no job, no resources, and no way to get around. She couch-surfed for more than eight months before she contacted The Sophia Way on a recommendation from a friend.
Tracey had lost her job in Oklahoma City. She traveled to Washington for a job interview in the tech field, but she didn't get the job, and was unable to return to Oklahoma City. She acquired a local job after a dedicated search, where she advocated for herself to employers. Tracey was a shoe-in for the job thanks to her job experience and her tireless work. The Sophia Way supported Tracey in acquiring a car, which was necessary to keep her job. She faithfully paid off the car loan and she uses the car to get to work every day.
Tracey proudly showing off her car title
When a community member approached The Sophia Way with an offer to rent out her home, Tracey instantly came to mind as a perfect candidate. We introduced Tracey to the homeowner, and it turned out to be a great match. We arranged to subsidize Tracey's rent with our rental assistance program for as long as she needs it, as well as provide case management services whenever necessary.Very recently, Tracy moved to her own permanent apartment! She is working hard to build her credit history, to upgrade to a higher-paying job, and after ten years, finally getting rid of her storage unit. We are hopeful that next year, Tracey will no longer need her apartment subsidy and she will finally reach her goal of ultimate independence.

The strength of the human spirit
Patricia Klingler recounts her Companionship experience with Tracey
First name, last name, and cell phone number. That's all I had. Well, there was a bit more. I also learned she likes to cook and was staying at Sophia's Place Shelter. That was enough information for me to grow excited about the prospect of becoming Tracey's companion, once the match had been made. It took 2-3 text messages for us to connect, but our first visit lasted four hours as did the next and the next and the next. There was so much to talk about as we discovered how we are alike, how we differ, but mostly how we could grow in our friendship
As Tracey's story unfolded, I discovered a woman with a professional background that had become waylaid by a set of circumstances. I discovered a woman who knows she has the personal resolve to improve those circumstances. I discovered a woman who seeks out resources to help her in her quest. I witnessed a woman move from life in a shelter to paying rent for a room in a private home, and who now lives independently in her own studio apartment. My discoveries confirmed that, in due time, Tracey will reach her employment and other life goals.
The best discovery, however, is that I have been blessed with a friendship that reminds me of the strength of the human spirit to prosper.

Our Companion Program is run by the WomanSpirit Center. You can learn more about this program here. If you would like to be a Companion, please email: 

redlionOne hotel room that's worth a million dollars
Monica found a temporary 'home' to recover from a major surgery 
You can imagine how Monica felt when she learned that her cancer had relapsed. But that was not all that she had to deal with. She was also experiencing homelessness and was at our shelter at Sophia's Place. She was making great progress in our program and was about to move into her own apartment. Her apartment was going through some 

renovation and was not yet ready for her to move in. Now she had to urgently go for her surgery. We helped her get admitted to the hospital. The plan was that after her surgery, she will stay at the hospital for a few days to recover, and by that time her apartment will be ready for her to move in.
Her surgery was a success. We were very happy for her! She was recovering well at the hospital. However, the hospital decided to discharge her just after two days and her apartment was still not ready for her to move in. She couldn't come back to the shelter because of the shelter timings and our lack of resources to keep it staffed 24 hours a day. She urgently needed a place where she could rest and recover. After all the stressful health issues, the last thing she needed was to be homeless again two days after her surgery.

We desperately looked for a temporary option for her. Finally, Red Lion Hotel, Bellevue, came to our rescue! They not only let her stay until her apartment was ready, they also took great care of her. Monica was beyond grateful for her temporary 'home'. Words fail to express our gratitude for Red Lion hotel. We feel so fortunate to have such a strong community partner.

Monica is now recovered and living on her own in her apartment. We are proud of her for being so strong through all these difficult circumstances and glad that things eventually worked out for her.