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

 

Holiday Volunteer Opportunities

December is a very busy month at Mary’s Place and we are starting to plan for holiday meals, Santa’s visit, and lots of shopping and wrapping! We need lots and lots of volunteers – individuals and groups to make it all happen. If you can help, email erin@marysplaceseattle.org.

Saturday, December 13 – Holiday Meal and the Santa Stor  This year our holiday celebration dinner and Santa Store for kids to shop for moms, dads, and grandmas will be held at the Seattle Center. New this year, young ladies can pick out a new Christmas dress at the Dress Corner! We need volunteers to help as greeters, holiday meal servers, personal shoppers at the Santa Store, help kids shop and wrap the presents they pick our for their families, and dress fitters.

December 15-17  The Santa Store at the Mary’s Place Day Center is where moms, dads, and grandmas shop for gifts for their children. We need volunteers to help lead crafts for the kids while they wait for their parents to shop and to help with lunch prep and serving.

Monday, December 22 – Pictures with Santa  Santa will visit the Mary’s Place Day Center from 10am-1pm for pictures! We need a photographer to take pictures of kids, women and families with Santa, people to lead game and crafts to keep the kids busy while they’re waiting to see Santa, carolers, and help preparing and serving lunch.

Tuesday, December 23 – Bon Mary’s Holiday Sale  It’s the last shopping day of the year and an all-day shopping extravaganza at the Mary’s Place Day Center! There will be a Bon Mary’s for the adults and Bon Jr.’s for the kids. We nee personal shoppers, volunteers to set up and restock the store shelves, gift wrappers, and help preparing and serving lunch.

Thursday, December 25 – Christmas Day  Mary’s Place Day Center is closed on Christmas Day, but all of our family night shelters will be open all day. We need volunteers to bring in a special holiday lunch for our families at one of the three locations: Julia’s Place in Madrona (22 people), Emergency Family Shelter in Belltown (48 people), and Bianca’s Place in South Lake Union (80 people); and there are lots of opportunities to host games, decorate cookies, and help our families celebrate the day.

We need you to help make the holidays special for our women, children and families! Contact Erin@marysplaceseattle.org for more information or to sign up.

No Child Sleeps Outside: Shelter as Part of a Comprehensive Strategy for Eliminating Homelessness

ACCORDING TO FAMILY HOUSING CONNECTIONS, THERE WERE OVER 5,100 HOMELESS FAMILIES IN KING COUNTY LAST YEAR. AT MARYS PLACE, THE NUMBER OF BED NIGHTS WE PROVIDED GREW FROM 7,000 IN 2012, TO OVER 20,000 IN 2013. Earlier this year the City of Seattle awarded Mary’s Place $200,000 to open Bianca’s Place, our crisis response family shelter in South Lake Union. Bianca’s Place, our fourth family night shelter, has nearly doubled our capacity, yet we still turn families away at night.

The reality is that there are thousands more people on lists for housing in our area than there are available units. Where are families and children supposed to go while they wait weeks, even months for housing? It’s unacceptable that there are still families sleeping outside at night, and the cold of winter is just around the corner. Crisis Response Shelter is a critical and effective part of the rehousing system and needs to be expanded.

The families we bring into Mary’s Place emergency shelters are finding resources, connecting to schools, developing skills, and building support networks to move into jobs and homes successfully. Working together with other providers and organizations that are committed to solving homelessness, Mary’s Place will be a strong voice for the role of crisis response shelter.

Our community shelter model works. It’s what families want, and it’s cost effective. Mary’s Place can feed and house an individual in one of our shelters for just $11 a night. Our goal is to open more crisis response night shelters for families in other areas of King County to meet the growing need.

Our Advocacy and Partnerships Committee and staff have been busy over the last few months talking with elected officials and the City of Seattle about continued funding for Bianca’s Place and our vision that Every Family Sleep Inside at Night.

This month the City begins its 2015/2016 budget process. The Mayor will deliver his budget to the City Council and then councilmembers will hold meetings and public hearings to incorporate their own funding priorities.

If you would like to help, contact the Seattle City Council by emailing council@seattle.gov and the King County Council at council@kingcounty.gov. Let your elected leaders know that no child, no family should sleep outside at night. Ask them to continue to support, and to expand, the Mary’s Place crisis response family shelter model.

You can also attend public hearings on the proposed budget and make your voice heard. Information about City of Seattle October budget hearings is at www.seattle.gov/council/budget/. King County dates have not yet been published, but find that info here: www.kingcounty.gov/council/budget.aspx.

Throughout the budget process we will send email notices about meetings and opportunities to be heard. If you are not on our email list and would like to be added, please email abbey@marysplaceseattle. We hope you’ll join our families, staff, and supporters at Council meetings this Fall!

From our Autumn Newsletter

Announcing Taylor’s Fund

Taylor’s Fund was established in 2014 in memory of our sister, Taylor, who fought terminal cancer with grace and dignity, and provides end of life care for our women. Taylor was an active and beloved member of Mary’s Place for over a decade. She came and began doing what she does best – cooking! Taylor never worked from a recipe, but created wonderful meals from her heart. She served hundreds of thousands of meals at Mary’s Place, and trained other women to cook alongside her. She never let her illness keep her from giving back to her family at Mary’s Place and you could find her in the Mary’s Place kitchen nearly every day cooking up some special treats for the women and children.

Your contribution to Taylor’s Fund pays for end of life care and, remembering how much Taylor loved it when we brought her peaches in final days, Taylor’s Fund provides comfort food and other items to our terminally ill women. Many of our state’s homeless who have no next of kin are buried unceremoniously with other unclaimed souls. Taylor’s Fund ensures that our women receive a loving and respectful burial.

Taylor —-
Take a pinch of laughter
Add a dash of leadership
Two handfuls of generosity
And heaping pile of love
Don’t forget the double pinch of independence!
Stir daily with creativity
Serve with loyalty and compassion