StoryCorps tells our stories

The “Finding Our WayStoryCorps project invited families who have experienced homelessness to tell their stories in their own words by sharing 40 minutes of uninterrupted conversation with a friend or a loved one. Three of our Mary’s Place families are included in the series and their stories are airing in June on KUOW’s Morning Edition. You can read and hear their courageous stories here:

Solomon Muche – From Homeless to UW At Age 16: “I Can Make It”
Charlotte Wheelock – Homeless And Sick: “I Would Just Go In The Restroom And Cry”
Zaneta Reid – Homeless Mom: “Just Waiting For The Sun To Come Up:

StoryCorps is one of the largest oral history projects of its kind. Since 2003, StoryCorps has collected and archived more than 50,000 interviews from more than 80,000 participants. Each conversation is recorded on a free CD to share, and is preserved at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.

Charlotte and her husband, Nick, told their story recently to a sold out house at a StoryCorps event sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Visitors Center and Seattle University.

REAL Love!

The numbers are in and we are overjoyed to let you know that we raised over $260,000 at our Spring Benefit Luncheon!

We are so thankful to all 850+ of you who joined us at the Seattle Center Exhibition Hall on May 5th, thankful to our generous sponsors and partners who provided funding and food, thankful to our courageous women and families who inspired us with their Real Life stories of Real Help and Real Hope, thankful to our talented performers who entertained and lifted our spirits, thankful to our wonderful emcees, Lori Matsukawa and Mayfield Vashti-Roberts, who kept us on track, and thankful to our hard-working staff, board, committee members and volunteers who make Mary’s Place go! We could not do any of it without all of you – your support and generosity keep our families safe, warm, and alive!

On the same day, so many of you gave generously to Mary’s Place though the Seattle Foundation’s GiveBIG campaign – thank you!

AND, we collected over 500 blankets that we will distribute to area shelters to Blanket our Community in Love!

YOU are the Real Love in our Community!

Blanket our Community in Love!

We have a goal to collect 1,000 blankets for area shelters by the date of our Spring Luncheon on May 5th. Can you help?

Please join us to collect new and gently used clean TWIN blankets to meet the urgent demand and keep families and children warm at night!

Bring your blanket donations to the Emergency Family Shelter at 314 Bell Street, Seattle (4th & Bell) Monday through Friday from 9am to 3pm. Donations can be accepted after hours and on weekends by appointment. Just pull up to the garage door in the alley on the west side of the building between 3rd and 4th Ave. Ring the bell, staff will be there to help you unload and offer you a tax receipt in exchange for your donations. Drive and drop!

Coming to the Annual Spring Luncheon? You can donate your blankets there! Mary’s Place will distribute them where they are most needed.

Baba’s Story

Baba and his family speak only French. Baba’s story was translated to English and read to our guests at the Jackson Street shelter Open House.

My name is Baba, I am from Democratic Republic of Congo. I arrived in Seattle on February 9th, 2015 with my three children Benie, Djo Djo, and Jeampy. My wife, Yvette, had arrived here before us on January 31st. She gave birth to our twins, Elizabeth and Ezechiel on February 6th, 2015 at the University of Washington hospital. In the Congo I was a businessman and a human rights activist. In 2013, I received my diploma in Human Rights Activism and Protection.

I was a member of the PPRD (People’s Party for Reconstruction and Democracy). I came to the United States because I spoke out against the government. I told people about the government killing young men. This was called Operation “LIKOFI”, the police would kill the young men who stole and acted violently to others. I wanted to stop this killing and help the men by giving them homes and jobs. The government said no, just kill.

On January 2nd, 2015 I was arrested and detained for two weeks. The police blindfolded me, beat me, and gave me only bread and water to eat. A man who spoke my native tongue told me that if I did not flee I would be killed. He helped connect me with a friend who helped me to escape. When I returned home my wife, who was eight months pregnant, had fled the house. The police had been visiting the house and bothering my family at night while I was gone. We eventually found each other and I sent her to Seattle to stay with a friend. A week later I joined her with my three young children. I had to leave my two oldest children in the Congo with friends. If I stayed in the Congo, I would be killed.

My family and I came to the Mary’s Place Jackson Street shelter on February 12th, 2015. My twins were only six days old when we came here. Jackson Street shelter has helped us with many things – with food, clothing, and housing applications. Jackson Street gives us a safe place to sleep at night and my family can be together. My children are now able to go to school. The staff is nice. I am very glad that we found this place. Mary’s Place has given us a lot; we have not had to buy many things. My children are happy and safe; they play with the other children.

I pray that my two children left in the Congo are safe. I pray that soon I will have a house and can bring them both the United States to safety.

The winnings are in: Governors Baker, Hassan, and Inslee deliver on Super Bowl bets

A Super Bowl loss became a big win for two Washington nonprofits this week. The winnings of Gov. Inslee’s Super Bowl wager with New England governors Charlie Baker (R-MA) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) arrived this week. The governors agreed to donate to area food banks win or lose.

New Hampshire sent 20 lbs of bacon to Mary’s Place, a women’s shelter in Seattle, and Massachusetts sent five dozen Boston Cream Pie cupcakes to the Women & Children’s Free Restaurant & Community Kitchen in Spokane. Washington also held up its end of the wager – Ivar’s Restaurants donated 1,000 cups of clam chowder to the New Hampshire Food Bank and Boston Rescue Mission.

“I can’t think of a better way to celebrate after this year’s Super Bowl,” Inslee said. “It was a painful loss, but we congratulate the Patriots and continue to support our Seahawks. These donations celebrate the tremendous spirit of our communities and bring smiles to 12s in Washington.”

“Going into the big game, we knew it was going to be a colossal East vs West Coast matchup,” said Bob Donegan, president of Ivar’s. “With the loss of our Seahawks comes something clamtastic – the ability for us to provide our world-famous clam chowder to those in need, especially during this exceptionally cold winter in New England.”

“What a delicious treat for our women, children and families! We are so grateful to be chosen to receive this generous gift. Thank you to Governors Inslee and Hassan for caring about homeless women and children!” said Marty Hartman, Executive Director of Mary’s Place.

“The diners we serve don’t typically experience something as special as Boston cream pie cupcakes,” Women & Children’s Free Restaurant & Community Kitchen’s Executive Director Lisa Diffley said. “We’re very grateful to have been selected and our guests will certainly enjoy this treat.”

Contact: Jaime Smith, Governor Inslee’s Communications Office | 360.902.4136
# # #
www.governor.wa.gov

We love our Angels in Blue!

The other day we got this touching email from a police officer:

Hello, hope you can help. On Saturday night I drove a woman and her two daughters and son to Mary’s Place. They had been kicked out of the place they were staying and were literally homeless with no money. The staff at Mary’s Place was absolutely amazing – pleasant, helpful and courteous and that was just with me. With the woman and her children, the staff were simply Godsends – they came out and welcomed her and her kids, helped them carry bags and were warm and caring from the first second. I was truly impressed with what you have going there. In my line of work as a police officer, I hate to admit that I’m a little jaded and rarely feel “sorry” for people anymore, but I felt bad for this woman and those kids.

Anyway, before I get too far off track, I hit it off with Michael, her son, and I told him when I dropped them off that I would get him some handcuffs since he played with mine during the time I was with them. The woman also said that her kids love ihop, so I want to give them a gift certificate for $50 so that she can take the kids to ihop.

This set of days off has been a nightmare with my own school and overtime assignments, but I plan to get to ihop and Party City on next week to pick this stuff up. Can you let them know I’ll be there on Tuesday?

This family has moved to Alaska where the mother has family members they are living with while she gets back on her feet. We love our Angels in Blue!

Paying it Forward

Solomon Muche shared the inspirational story of his journey through homelessness to being accepted at the University of Washington last fall with our audience at the Annual Spring Luncheon. Now happily settled in at the UW, we were excited to learn that Solomon was one of three students selected to present his research at the 2015 Emerging Researchers National (ERN) Conference in STEM in Washington DC in February (he also received a full scholarship for the trip)!

We are so proud of Solomon. Especially because he continues to come back to Mary’s Place to volunteer and share hope with other families and young students. On New Year’s Eve, home for winter break, Solomon visited Mary’s Place to talk to our middle and high school students about college, to answer their questions, and to encourage them to dream big!

Solomon’s message was one of hope and opportunity. He shared how he lived in the shelter for a year but it gave him his greatest opportunities. He learned to share his story and ask for help. He learned not to be ashamed of his homeless and how that actually helped him get into college – he wrote about it in his essays. While at Mary’s Place, he was able to attend summer camp, got an internship at the Museum of Flight, and attended SAT prep classes, paid for by Mary’s Place.

The kids asked him lots of questions about how to apply and pay for college, what it’s like there, and how to stay positive. An amazing discussion and an amazing young man!

Crowdfunding Campaign Raises more than $300,000!

WE DID IT!

Thanks you YOU, our crowdfunding campaign to make sure No Child Sleeps Outside this Winter in Seattle EXCEEDED our goal and raised more than $300,000 to provide emergency shelter and services to homeless moms, dads, and kids this winter. The season is truly merry and bright for our homeless families!

A big thank you to our incredible sponsors: Dick’s Drive-In, evo, Vulcan Inc., the Space Needle/Seattle Hospitality Group, Evolution Projects, Windermere Foundation, and the Harrelson family, who came together a month ago to make a difference in the lives of more than 500 families who sleep in cars, bus stations, and doorways at night. Together, they created a movement, and inspired a community.

The money we’ve raised is already at work helping us to move families out of homelessness, into shelter and on their way to permanent housing. We are moving forward to open an additional winter emergency night shelter; watch for more news about this new facility in the New Year.

Contributions to the crowdfunding campaign are still coming in, it’s not too late to participate!

Thank you for your support and love.

From our Mary’s Place family to yours, Happy Holidays!

The Story of the Tent

The other day a supporter, Lori, saw our request on Facebook for a family-sized tent to use at Julia’s Place. Lori brought her tent by and shared this story about how she came to have it to give.

My step-grandmother was a very dear lady who married into a huge family – she already had six children of her own and some grandchildren, and my grandfather had 10 children and 15 of us grand kids! She herself had managed to escape from a very abusive first husband, in a very, very tight patriarchal religious community. I don’t know how many years she managed to keep her family together before she came into our lives, but it was quite awhile. The strength it took for her to get away from that man and that life, and to keep her children safe, is something I am still humbled by today. She and my grandfather were married for over 20 years before he passed away; she died in 2001.

Though she was not a wealthy woman, she still managed to leave each of us a small gift after her passing. Our family loves to go camping. We have a great aunt who was in her 80’s and still wanted to camp with all of us. So, with my inheritance from my step-grandmother, I bought this tent to bring all the comforts of home to make it possible for an 80-year-old to camp with all of the “kids”. We made one trip each year for a few years and she had the best time. I have been holding on to the tent since, not wanting to just get rid of it or pass it along to anyone as it holds special meaning for me, being a purchase made possible by my strong, loving, selfless step-grandmother.

When I saw your post on Facebook – the decision was made for me. What a perfect way to honor her! That our tent, that has been filled with love, family and memories, will go to another woman with a beautiful family who needs a replacement tent. I wish her strength and many blessings!

Never Liked – Always Liked

A few weeks ago during the Write to Heal and Have Fun group, leader Julie Gardner gave the prompt, I Have Never Liked. The women wrote for five minutes. At the end she asked them to write the words, I’ve Always Liked and complete the sentence with one thing.

Julie said, “I was touched by the deep things and simple things the women wrote. The last lines were strong. All showed gratitude for big and little things.” She liked that the pieces shared some of the hardships of homeless and formerly homeless women which invites understanding and compassion from readers. And she added, “We had fun.”

Never Liked, Always Liked
Diana Balgaard

I never liked junk mail, paperwork,

cooking, stone faced people,

narcissism, authority figures, men

with large egos.

Football, baseball,

canned laughter.

Muddy walks, dirty water, loud

obnoxious people,

people who

talk constantly about nothing.

On the bus, seeing elders without seats.

Uphill climbs,

crowds

of people marching toward me.

But I’ve always liked

heart to heart conversations