Many of us have had the experience of walking somewhere, and encountering someone asking for food or money. Or we see someone who is clearly homeless, and in dire need of basic services. The majority of us usually keep walking. Why? What feelings does seeing people who are homeless, specifically individuals who are homeless, bring up for us? What do these emotions mean for advocates trying to both engage and mobilize the public? How can we humanize/put a face to people who are homeless? Guest blogger Perry Firth from Seattle University’s Project on Family Homelessness considers these questions.
Cherisse Webb talks about volunteering with the Point-in-Time Count in a new video produced by Seattle University's Project on Family Homelessness.
On a cold and rainy day this past January, Snohomish County volunteers were among the many thousands nationwide who helped conduct a Point-in-Time Count of homelessness in their communities. The Seattle University's Project on Family Homelessness team visited two of the sites and asked volunteers about their experiences. Watch this new video to hear fromvolunteers who gather important data that creates a snapshot of homelessness in our communities.
Over the past decade, data has emerged showing that our childhoods affect us more than previously thought. Not only do they affect our adult mental health, but they can also lay the groundwork for our long-term physical health. It’s all part of a fascinating framework called Adverse Childhood Experiences, or ACEs. Perry Firth, a student at Seattle University, guest blogs for us again and uses her counseling background to look at childhood homelessness through the lens of ACEs.
Middle-school teacher Barbie Solbakken reads aloud her students’ reviews of the play “Danny, King of the Basement” to the man who wrote it, David S. Craig. Left to right: Laurie Dempsey; Jackie MacLean; Judy Lightfoot; Barbie. Photo by Lisa Gustaveson.
When Seattle Children’s Theatre staged “Danny” last fall, it was a golden opportunity to stimulate public discussion about family homelessness in Washington state. We highlighted the play on our blog last fall and now we are excited to share an in depth discussion with the playwright of "Danny," David S. Craig, in which he offers his perspective on poverty and homelessness among children and families. Listen to the short clip below and read on to hear more.
(L-R) Project coordinator Graham Pruss and project assistants/Seattle U students Ashwin Warrior, Judy Pansullo and Perry Firth from the Project on Family Homelessness stand on the steps of the Capitol Building. Photo credit: Catherine Hinrichsen
Perry Firth is a graduate student and a project assistant for the Seattle University Project on Family Homelessness. She attended the Housing & Homelessness Advocacy Day in Olympia for the first time this year. Two more Seattle U grad students and project assistants attended for the first time too. In this post, Perry shares their reflections as first time participants. In Perry's words, "I would say that sometimes you may feel that advocacy doesn’t work. It can be hard to connect your own actions and awareness-raising to meaningful policy change. But it is only through advocacy and collaboration that systemic change ever occurs." Learn more about the advocacy that happened on February 11th!
Housing advocates convene on the steps of the state capitol to rally for affordable homes for all.
On January 11th, over 650 housing advocates came together in Olympia, our Washington state capitol, and spoke up for affordable housing. Hosted by the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance, it was the largest Advocacy Day yet. We represented 43 out of our 49 state voting districts! Why did so many people make the trek to Olympia? Hear from participants directly in the following post and learn how Firesteel and the YWCA contributed.
The homeless counts at the end of January revealed how many people are without shelter in Washington state. Count volunteers come away motivated to advocate for affordable housing and there are lots of advocacy events in the near future! In this "Everyone Counts" blog post, Erin from the YWCA heard from volunteers both at the downtown One Night Count headquarters and also in Renton. Following volunteer quotes and video, you'll also find a list of great advocacy resources and events so we can create change together.
Volunteer Breanne Andrews was one of the organizers of the Point in Time Count in Everett, Washington
Everyone counts, even community members that are experiencing homelessness. In this series, we explore the importance of the homeless counts that take place in every county and hear from many of the volunteers that help count. Not all counts are the same. Some occur in the darkest, earliest hours of the morning, and others take place in daylight. Catherine from the Seattle University Project on Family Homelessness takes us through some of these differences and shares her experience at the Point in Time Count in Snohomish County.
Homeless counts will have taken place in every county across the country by the end of January. In this series, "Everyone Counts," we'll explore the importance of these counts and hear what impact they had on some of the thousands of volunteers in Western Washington. Perry, a student at Seattle University, shares insights from her One Night Count experience and the importance of doing social justice work in community. Volunteering is very important but so is self-care!
We continue our "Everyone Counts" series with insight into the homeless Point in Time counts occuring across the country. In this post, we hear again from Ashwin, a student at Seattle University. He volunteered with a One Night Homeless Count team that explored the Seattle neighborhood of Ballard, where many people live in vehicles. In fact, vehicle residents make up the largest percent of the homeless population on "the streets" in King County. How do we so often miss the presence of this population? Ashwin shares how his eyes were opened.
Homeless counts will have taken place in every county across the country by the end of January. In this series, "Everyone Counts," we'll explore the importance of these counts and learn about the impact they had on some of the thousands of volunteers in Western Washington. Today, Ashwin from Seattle University shares insights from the Count Us In homeless youth and young adult count--a population which has only recently been counted. A big thank you to the volunteers who contributed video clips!
Count Us In volunteers from Auburn Youth Resources. Photo from Teen Feed.
Homeless counts will take place in every county across the country beginning later this month. In this series, "Everyone Counts," we'll explore the importance of these events. Here we introduce you to four different homeless counts and how you can get involved as a volunteer. The counts depend on volunteers like you so check it out!
This series posed the question, "Why does child care matter?" with five posts evaluating the important of child care and early learning. Guest blogger, Sarah Swihart, demonstrates how child care can present a huge barrier for parents working to provide for their families, especially families vulnerable to homelessness. The series begins with establishing the importance of affordable child care and early learning opportunities, particularly for low-income families, and ends with a look at supportive policies.
Danny (Quinn Armstrong) escapes a harsh reality by imagining he’s a secret agent, code name “Delco,” in Seattle Children’s Theatre’s production of “Danny, King of the Basement.” Photo by Chris Bannion.
Nine-year-old Jacques saw a play with his mom the other night. He thought it was funny and had some good action. He liked the snacks in the lobby before the show. Then he got home and started thinking about it. And it changed the way he looks at his world. “He just never thought that a kid could be without a home,” his mom, Jennifer, said.
October is National Domestic Violence Awareness month and Firesteel is exploring the connections between domestic violence and family homelessness through the end of this month. We are running a Facebook campaign including an interactive quiz. Read on to learn how we are inviting people to learn more about these connected issues!
By age five children should understand opposites, count 5-10 objects, speak in sentences, name colors, get along with others, and sit at their desk. Unfortunately, students living in poverty are more likely to start school without these basic skills. If children start behind they are more likely to stay behind. They are more likely to need special education, repeat a grade, and drop out of high school. Research demonstrates that high-quality pre-k increases a child’s chances of succeeding in school and in life. Early learning programs are essential if we want to end the cycle of poverty in our nation. We continue our Why Child Care Matters series with this third installment written by guest blogger, Sarah Swihart
Sarah Swihart (2nd to right) with her parents and fiance at her Seattle University graduation Spring of 2012. She'll be returning to Seattle U this fall to begin a Masters in Public Administration with a powerful perspective that will make her a great policy advocate!
We continue our Why Childcare Matters 5 part series with our guest blogger, Sarah, sharing her personal story of domestic violence and homelessness.Not belittling her own difficulties, Sarah reflects on how much more difficult it is for mothers. Child care can present a huge barrier for parents working to provide for their families and an obstacle that does not often receive much attention. In this series, we hope to shed more light on this issue and make connections between child care and homelessness.
The "back to school" buzz is in full force! In the midst of new school supplies and other preparations, some kids going back to school also means returning to a regular routine. For students whose families are struggling with homelessness, school often means more stability and welcome child care for the parents. Child care can present a huge barrier for parents working to provide for their families and an obstacle that does not often receive much attention. For this reason, we are looking at Why Child Care Matters in a 5 part series running the next two weeks. We are excited to welcome another guest blogger Sarah Swihart who will be sharing her thoughts and research with us!
"Our goal here was to convene and create a conversation" - SKID ROAD coordinators
The Olson Kundig Architects storefront in Pioneer Square, Seattle is currently hosting a collaborative exhibit, SKID ROAD. The installation invites visitors to learn more about homelessness and interact with the issue in new ways. I sat down with the project coordinators to learn more about the exhibit and gladly share their insights with you here.
It's summer movie blockbuster time! With movies on the brain, I've compiled a handful of more recent movies that explore stories of homelessness. Some are now out on video while others are yet to be released. Some are local to the Seattle area and others take place in different parts of the world. Get ready to be challenged and inspired at the same time!
Jhana is the Events Intern at the YWCA and an alumni of the YWCA GirlsFirst program. Here she shares her story about her experience in Ghana, Africa and how it has motivated her to continue helping others, especially here at home. At the age of 15, Jhana wants to make a difference in her own community and homelessness is one area of which she has become more aware. Her passion will inspire you to raise your own voice and create change!
"Pookie,"artwork by Lee Jeffries: "I made an effort to learn, to get to know each of my subjects before asking their permission to do their portrait."
I'm on a campaign kick these days. The WHAT CAN I DO? CAMPAIGN is located in LA. A grass roots movement raising awareness and compassion about homelessness through art and social action, every month a unique and beautiful piece of art inspired by homelessness is featured in the campaign. Here are a few of their pieces and featured artists.
Campaign for Potential - Promoting understanding and empathy
Raising the Roof is a Canadian organization providing strong and effective national leadership on long-term solutions to homelessness. The national public education campaign has been part of Raising the Roof's commitment to help build understanding and empathy around the issue of youth homelessness and create momentum for change.The campaign focused not on how homeless youth got to where they are, but where they can and want to go in life – their potential. View their print ads here!
"Being a client here at the YWCA in Bellevue, I find this place to be safe, warm, and reliable. A resourceful place to network for jobs, housing, healthcare, and community services. A place where the staff is always exceptionally caring and supportive. I am grateful for the YWCA and all it's contributions. They make it possible for women like me to have a place to grow and to go."
When YWCA staff approached me asking if Firesteel could help raise awareness of their participation in the 38th Annual Pride Parade in Seattle, I said, "Sure! How can we connect this to housing and homelessness?" One Family Advocate, Nora, stepped forward and offered to write not one, but 5 blog posts related to housing challenges facing the LGBTQ community and the importance of YWCA participation in the Pride Parade. Thank you Nora! Because of her thoughtful writing and time, we have the following blog posts, compiled here for easy reference.
In the week leading up to the Pride Parade in Seattle, we continue our series, "Participating & Proud." YWCA Seattle I King I Snohomish staff and volunteers are participating in the parade this upcoming Sunday and we will take you through many of the reaons why it is important to do so. Nora Johnson, a Family Advocate at the YWCA I Seattle I King I Snohomish Family Village in Mountlake Terrace, takes us through the meaning of the "T" in the acronym "LGBTQ" and how programs can provide needed services for this community.
In the week leading up to the Pride Parade in Seattle, we continue our series, "Participating & Proud." YWCA Seattle I King I Snohomish staff and volunteers are participating in the parade this upcoming Sunday and we will take you through many of the reaons why it is important to do so. Nora Johnson, a Family Advocate at the YWCA I Seattle I King I Snohomish Family Village in Mountlake Terrace, highlights some of the federal housing policy changes to address the needs of LGBTQ communities.
On June 4th, 2012, the Gates Foundation invited all their family homelessness advocacy grantees into one room. This convening allowed each of us to learn about each other's efforts and to discuss opportunities for even greater collaboration. The discussion that took place is likely the first of many! Firesteel, as a Gates grantee, was at the table, including theYWCA Wenatchee Valley as a Firesteel partner. Sharlene England is our Firesteel contact at theYWCA Wenatchee Valley and here she shares her meeting take-aways. And thanks to Sharlene for making the trek to Seattle to attend!
It’s Gay Pride Week in Seattle, and YWCA I Seattle I King I Snohomish staff and volunteers are proud to be participating in the parade this upcoming Sunday. It is also a perfect time to introduce the Firesteel community to the work of Sexual Orientation/ Gender Identity (SO/GI) Committee here at our YWCA. Nora Johnson, a Family Advocate at the Family Village in Mountlake Terrace, is a member of the SO/GI committee and will take us through our next series named, "Participating & Proud." Why is there a need for a Sexual Orientation/ Gender Identity Committee at the YWCA? Why are staff and volunteers participating in the Pride Parade? How does any of this connect to housing and homelessnes? We're covering all that and more!
Tiffany shares a special moment with her son who has reunited with her at Passage Point.
We continue our series, "Not a Prisoner of the Past," exploring the challenges facing women and families that are attempting to build their life again after being incarcerated and other life changing circumstances. This is our third post in this series, examining domestic violence. Andrea VanHorn shares more about her work at the YWCA Seattle I King I Snohomish Passage Point, a supportive residential community for parents discharged from the corrections system who would otherwise be homeless and who seek to reunite with their minor children and families. Passage Point also offers support for women, like Tiffany, who are survivors of domestic violence.
We continue our series, "Not a Prisoner of the Past," with a Photo Friday post highlighting the gardening work party that took place at theYWCA Seattle I King I Snohomish Passage Point last weekend. This series explores the challenges that women face who attempt to rebuild their lives after incarceration and other life-changing circumstances. Passage Point is a supportive residential community for parents discharged from the corrections system who would otherwise be homeless and who seek to reunite with their minor children and families.YWCA Gen-Risers came out to support the program by pulling on gloves and getting dirty!
We now start a series exploring the challenges facing women and families that are attempting to build their life again after being incarcerated. Stable housing is the most critical element for successful re-entry. Many of us would first think of employment as the foundation for rebuilding a life, but actually, stable housing and a safe home is an even bigger factor.
This is the first post in this series named "Not a Prisoner of the Past," and Andrea VanHorn shares about her work at the YWCA Seattle I King I Snohomish Passage Point, a supportive residential community for parents discharged from the corrections system who would otherwise be homeless and who seek to reunite with their minor children and families.
Did you make it out to see the Spiral Project at Lake Union Park? We would love to hear your thoughts! The sculpture will be up through June 17th and if you are interested in keeping the conversation going and wanting to make more connections into the homelessness advocacy community, we welcome you to Firesteel. The Spiral Project uses art created by the community as an opportunity to engage in conversation about family homelessness. Firesteel is all about continuing that conversation, making connections, and advocating for change that will end family homelessness in WA state. An easy first step is by sharing your thoughts on the Spiral Project by commenting on this blog post.
YWCA Opportunity Place--Site of the Worksource Program.
Memorial Day may have passed but outreach to our veterans continues. Over the weekend, the YWCA USA blog highlighted the YWCA Seattle I King I Snohomish services for veterans. Matt King, a Senior Program Director at the YWCA Seattle I King Snohomish wrote this piece that was posted on the National blog and we are excited to share it here as well.
Today’s post was written by Samantha Tripoli, Health Access & Volunteer Services Coordinator for YWCA Seattle | King | Snohomish, who attended the 22nd Annual Conference on Ending Homelessness in Washington State held in Yakima last week. Read on to find out more on ways nonprofits can benefit from using social media and games in their advocacy.
At any one time, almost half of the homeless people in Washington State are families with children. The Spiral Project is a unique public art piece that aims to raise awareness of this group, the “invisible” homeless. Watch an interview with Bryan Ohno from Urban Art Concept as he talks about his inspiration for this project and the power art has to impact the way people think.
Dan Lamont is a photojournalist. In 2010 he created multimedia stories on family homelessness as a Seattle University Journalism Fellow funded by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Mechanisms and avenues for telling these stories have changed. The old publishing venues and supporting business structures have crumbled. What has come to take their place is exciting and rife with potential but still unformed and unpredictable. Those who want to report on important social issues must find new ways in this noisy new media environment. Here Dan shares some creative new media opportunities for supporting social change.
Sometimes influential people talk about homelessness. We want to see more and more of that happening, so when a big public figure shines the spotlight on homelessness, we want to highlight it. Let's reinforce good conversations and growing awareness of homelessness. I've coined this theme "Big Wigs Talk Homelessness" and our first shout out goes to Jon Stewart of the Daily Show. Earlier this week he interviewed Shaun Donovan, the Housing and Urban Development Secretary. Here's the Firesteel Director, Erin's take on it!