Homeless LGBTQ youth raise awareness about their struggles. Image from Instinct Magazine.
While the momentum of the marriage equality movement deserves celebration this Pride Month, it’s important to recognize that there’s still a lot of work to do to achieve equity for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community. As many as 40 percent of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ, and oftentimes they end up trapped in a cycle of abuse, poverty, and street life that lasts well into adulthood. Guest blogger Sarah Bartlett illuminates some of the struggles with poverty and homelessness that many members of the LGBTQ community experience.
"The Beast Inside" is one of four animated shorts produced by the Film & Family Homelessness Project. Co-director and animator Drew Christie told us that making this film helped him understand how "institutional racism, bigotry, misunderstandings and fear" contribute to homelessness.
Seattle University's Film & Family Homelessness Project worked with six Seattle-area filmmakers to produce four beautiful animated films revealing different aspects of living with poverty and homelessness. The stories were informed by families who have first-hand experience with these challenges. Developing these films was a learning process for the filmmakers, and we invited them to share lessons they came away with. Read their reflections and watch the American Refugees films.
Hannah Cheung chose this image to accompany her essay, in which she notes that children account for 39 percent of the population experiencing homelessness. Image found at change.org.
We have a winner for our Spark Change Essay Contest! Shorecrest High School student Hannah Cheung challenges stereotypes surrounding homelessness, explores some factors that contribute to homelessness, and calls on you to help raise awareness.
Susan Russell is a Real Change vendor and member of the Homeless Speakers Bureau. Image credit: Still capture from video by Anissa Amalia.
Have you heard about Real Change’s Homeless Speakers Bureau? It’s a group of homeless and formerly homeless people who speak about their personal experiences with homelessness. Speakers help educate the public, facilitate conversation, and inspire social action. Susan Russell, a Speakers Bureau member and passionate advocate, wrote this excellent post about why she speaks up about homelessness.
StoryCorps offers people the opportunity to record, share, and preserve their stories. The organization will come to the Puget Sound area this summer to record conversations about family homelessness. Photo credit: Tony Rinaldo via StoryCorps.
We know that stories can build bridges between people and drive social change. That’s why we’re thrilled to be part of the new initiative "Finding Our Way: Puget Sound Stories About Family Homelessness." This summer, StoryCorps will come to Washington to record conversations between people who have been affected by family homelessness. Read on to learn how you can participate.
Organizers of Seattle's first Hack to End Homelessness went to great lengths to make sure their event would have only positive outcomes, in the form of both tech solutions and an expanded awareness of the complexity of homelessness. And they made it easy for participants and collaborators. Because we felt the Hack was an example of organizing and community-building done right, we invited Candace Faber to write about her experience managing the initiative. She shares seven lessons she learned while pulling off a successful event.
Meg Roberts (@megchirps on Twitter) built this collage featuring scenes from the Hack to End Homelessness.
Seattle’s first-ever Hack to End Homelessness brought housing advocates and service providers together with members of the tech community to design and build solutions to homelessness. The weekend of May 2-4, more than 100 people collaborated on a dozen projects, including informative infographics, data analyses and visualizations, websites, and mobile apps. Read on for our take on the event, as well our videos featuring activist Mark Horvath.
The many faces of Mark Horvath and his good friend, social media, as shown in the new film @home. Original art by Haley Jo Lewis.
Equipped with a video camera, a big online following, and endless compassion, Mark Horvath documents and shares stories of people who are experiencing homelessness. The new documentary "@home" follows Mark on an 11,000-mile road trip across the United States, and introduces us to the homeless men, women, and children he connects with. Haley Jo Lewis from Seattle University’s Project on Family Homelessness reviews the film and invites you to its May 2 Seattle premiere.
Darragh Kennan and Emily Chisholm portray Gary and Crystal in Bethany. Gary holds up a picture of Bethany to Crystal’s face to see the resemblance. Five-year-old Bethany lives with her mother in their car for a time before being taken away. Photo credit: Chris Bennion.
In the play Bethany, on stage through May 4 at Seattle's ACT Theatre,the protagonist has lost her home and her daughter, and finds herself at the edge of a precipice. Her desperate struggle to reunite her family – while keeping up appearances – eats away at her hope, judgment and sense of self. Hannah Hunthausen from Seattle University’s Faith & Family Homelessness Project reflects on drama that unfolds in the play, and relates it to the reality of family homelessness in Washington state.
Rep. June Robinson of the 38th District was a freshman lawmaker this year, but she's a longtime champion of policies that will help end homelessness. She gave great advice for communicating with legislators today on a conference call hosted by theWashington Low Income Housing Alliance. Don't miss our takeaways from the call!
Sideways rain soaked our clothes, and wind threatened to send our unsturdy blue plastic tent smashing into the steps of the Capitol building. Why were dozens of housing advocates huddled around a gong in that nasty weather?
With just a couple of weeks left in the state legislative session, it’s a critical time to speak up for laws that will help end homelessness. We’re highlighting how state policies affect communities across the state, and sharing simple actions you can take to ensure everybody has the opportunity to live in a safe, healthy, affordable home. Today Sarah Foley from YWCA of Spokane, a new member of the Firesteel network, shares a story from her community.
At a YWCA event, Jenny shares her story of becoming homeless with her young son. Photo: YWCA Seattle | King | Snohomish
Jenny had a great job as a crane operator, an apartment of her own and a healthy three-year-old son. Then she was laid off, and her family was forced to couch-surf for two years. Guest blogger Gina Yarwood tells us how Jenny got back on her feet, and shares how you can take action (in five minutes or less!) to help homeless families get the support they need.
When Thomas was living in a homeless shelter in Tacoma, he saved up to get an apartment. He had first and last months' rent, a deposit, and enough money for three tenant screening fees each month. An error on his screening report got him rejected by landlords time after time, though, and he spent hundreds of dollars on tenant screening reports. Thomas was stuck in the shelter months longer than he needed to be. A proposed law making its way through the legislature solves this problem by creating portable screening reports -- find out what you can do to support this solution!
High school students have a lot at stake in the journey to end homelessness. We want to share their voices. Encourage the high school students in your life to write and submit an essay about homelessness to the Spark Change Essay Contest. We'll post winning essays on the Firesteel blog!
Housing and Homelessness Advocacy Day was a great opportunity to let our friends, family and other online contacts know about our advocacy efforts and encourage them to join us. To make online advocacy easy and fun, Firesteel set up a photo booth, complete with pre-made signs, dry-erase boards for those who wanted to write their own messages, and props. Hundreds of advocates took pictures, which were shared on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and a slew of websites. Check out some of our favorite shots!
Each year, volunteers across the country fan out through their communities to count people who are sleeping outdoors. 3,117 homeless men, women and children were out in the cold in King County between 2 and 5 a.m. today.
Real Change, a homeless empowerment project and newspaper based in Seattle, organizes a "Sounding of the Gong" event the morning after the count to bring attention to the problem of homelessness. Firesteel spoke with Real Change Founding Director Tim Harris about the count results, which reflected a 14 percent increase from 2013 in the number of people sleeping outdoors. We also interviewed Rachael Myers, Executive Director of the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance, about advocacy efforts to end homelessness in Washington state. Join Housing and Homelessness Advocacy Day on Jan. 28 in Olympia to meet your legislators and encourage them to support policies that will end homelessness.
Emma Lee is a Family Advocate for YWCA Seattle | King | Snohomish. She believes that portable screening reports would help her clients move into permanent housing.
During a single housing search, the average prospective tenant spends more than $166 in screening fees. This can be a real challenge for low-income families. Guest blogger Emma Lee, a Family Advocate for YWCA Seattle | King | Snohomish, shares a story about a client whose small monthly budget was devastated by these fees, and explains why she supports the Fair Tenant Screening Act. This common-sense legislation would create a portable, standardized report that a renter could share with multiple potential landlords, eliminating the burden of paying over and over for screenings.
Housing and Homelessness Advocacy Day (#HHAD2014) is Jan. 28, just a couple of weeks away. Help us get the word out by participating in the Social Media Day of Action TODAY. Join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter to raise awareness about policies that will help end homelessness, and also encourage people to join us in Olympia for #HHAD2014.
Calling all twitterers and Facebook fans! Social networks are a great place to share your thoughts on housing, and to rally your friends to advocate for policies that will end homelessness. Take social media to the next level! Join our free Social Media 201 Google+ Hangout this Monday, Jan. 13.
Military veterans are more likely than other Americans to experience both unemployment and homelessness. Women are at especially at risk for housing instability, in part because they are sometimes not recognized as veterans and don't get connected with veteran-specific services that can help them get back on their feet. On this Veterans Day, we share why it's imperative that our society recognize the service of all military men and women.
Military veteran and single mom Janis experienced homelessness three times, but now lives in a LIHI apartment in Seattle. Photo courtesy LIHI.
As Veterans Day nears and we celebrate our nation’s heroes, it’s important to also recognize that many veterans face challenges, including homelessness, as they re-enter civilian life. Veterans are more likely than their civilian counterparts to experience homelessness, and women veterans are particularly vulnerable. Fortunately, many people are working to make sure our veterans have safe homes. The Low Income Housing Institute’s Community Engagement & Advocacy ManagerAnia Beszterda Alyson shares a story of a veteran and single mom who has experienced homelessness three times, but is now on a path to a better future after finding a stable home.
Sue's former partner seemed like a nice guy at first. When they moved in together, though, the difference was night and day. He beat her so badly that she frequented the emergency room. He completely controlled her finances, and isolated her from her friends and family so she was trapped. On this last day of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, hear Sue's story, and find out what you can do to help end the cycle of abuse.
Lou Reed’s 1989 album “New York” told some harsh truths about the policies that mired families in homelessness.
On the surface, Lou Reed's "Dirty Blvd." seems like a song about extreme poverty and the hopelessness it engenders. But there’s much more to it than another sad story. Reed is railing against the policy that got those children into poverty and trapped them there. Catherine Hinrichsen from Seattle University’s Project on Family Homelessness remembers Reed, who died a few days ago, and reflects on the social injustices he so eloquently confronted.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and we're exploring the connections between domestic violence and family homelessness. In this video, Norene Roberts, program manager at a domestic violence shelter, explains how abusers isolate their victims from their friends and family -- and how this isolation can contribute to homelessness. She also gives advice for helping a loved one who is experiencing domestic violence.
Today marks the beginning of the Week Without Violence, an initiative created by YWCA USA nearly 20 years ago to mobilize people in communities across the United States to take action against all forms of violence, wherever it occurs. Washington state Sen. Steve Hobbs has done important work to remove barriers to housing for survivors of domestic violence. In this video, Sen. Hobbs talks about the importance of the Fair Tenant Screening Act. He also invites you to join the Week Without Violence -- we hope you will!
Domestic violence isn't just physical abuse -- it can also be emotional and economic abuse. In Naomi's case, her former partner manipulated her finances and stole money from her. He isolated her from her friends and family and threatened to kill her. Though Naomi wanted to leave him, she feared retaliation. She also needed him around to help pay the bills.
In the Academy Award-winning documentary "Inocente," the featured artist talks about growing up with a physically abusive father. What many people don't know is that Inocente Izucar has also experienced domestic violence at the hands of a boyfriend. In this video, Inocente shares how she got past that relationship, and encourages others to break the silence about domestic violence.
In this video, Jennifer Quiróz, Economic Resilience Program Manager at the YWCA Seattle | King | Snohomish, explains how economic abuse can look in different relationships. She also shares why economic abuse is such an effective tool for trapping women in violent situations.
The cycle of abuse depends on silence. First we must name domestic violence. Then we can act to end it. Firesteel is breaking the silence. Our interactive quiz testing and building your knowledge about domestic violence in Washington state will be online and sharable throughout the month. Each week, we’ll share a new video and blog posts about domestic violence -- what it looks like, how it causes family homelessness, and how we can end it.
What’s the best way to learn about complex social issues like poverty and family homelessness?Guest blogger Lisa Gustaveson, Seattle University's Faith & Family Homelessness Program Manager, has been working with faith communities in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties to answer this question. Among their strategies is a simulation exercise. Read on to learn how Poverty Immersion Workshops can help people more deeply understand and take action to stop the cycle of generational poverty and homelessness.
Guest blogger Winta Kassaye's family immigrated to Seattle from Ethiopia. Their immigration story has turned out well, but Winta notes that some people struggle and experience homelessness after coming to the United States. In this family photo, Winta is second from right.
High school student Winta and her family came to the United States from Ethiopia about eight years ago. While they had a relatively easy transition, some of their friends who are also immigrants have struggled to make ends meet and experienced homelessness. Winta shares her friend Martin's story as well as her own in this guest post.
Brandy Sincyr experienced homelessness throughout her high school years, and now advocates on behalf of homeless youth. Photo courtesy Brandy Sincyr.
At age 14, Brandy Sincyr, along with her mother and sister, escaped an abusive stepfather and found herself bouncing between shelters and temporary living arrangements. Despite the many challenges of not knowing where she would sleep each night, Brandy graduated from high school -- and then went on to earn a political science degree from Seattle Pacific University in June. Now she's leveraging her own experience to advocate on behalf of the more than 27,000 homeless students in Washington state. Read Brandy's story in the final post of our "Back to School" series on student homelessness.
A YouthCare client works toward his GED. High school completion and GED programs designed for homeless youth must focus on individual students' needs and goals. Photo courtesy YouthCare.
27,390. We've been sharing that number a lot this week because it's how many students in Washington state have been identified as homeless. What that number doesn't include is the thousands of young people who have left the school system because of homelessness. If they never find their way back to school, they are likely to become trapped in the cycle of poverty and homelessness. Melinda Giovengo, YouthCare's executive director, writes today's guest post about how flexible high school completion and GED programs can help homeless young people find a path to post-secondary education and successful careers.
This artwork was created by a young man in Catholic Community Services's Zine Project.
Our blog series exploring what back to school means for Washington's 27,000 homeless students continues with contributions from youth working with the Zine Project. A program of Catholic Community Services, the Zine Project is an eight-week prevocational creative writing program serving homeless youth ages 15 to 22. Interns with the project are paid to make zines, personal publications consisting of original writing and artwork. Today we share two interns's writings about school and home, as well as original artwork.
Thousands of parents across the state are sending children back to school this week. One in 38 of those students are homeless.
Over the next several days, as young people across the state settle into their classrooms, we’re exploring the issue of student homelessness. In Washington state, more than 27,000 students are homeless. Some live in cars; others couch-surf or sleep in motels or shelters. Fortunately, all homeless students have rights under a federal law called the McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Assistance Act. Today we'll share the story of a teenager whose family lost their home, and list resources for helping homeless students exercise their rights.
Our “From Soldier to Civilian” blog series is examining barriers that veterans, and women veterans in particular, face as they re-enter civilian society. We’re also sharing suggestions from experts – veterans themselves – on making the transition easier and helping women who served avoid homelessness. In this post, community counseling graduate student and frequent Firesteel contributor Perry Firth explores some of the barriers faced by women veterans, including military sexual trauma, and shares information about Seattle’s upcoming Stand Down event for unstably housed veterans.
Today's featured advocate, Terry Belcoe, works toward ensuring that all children in his community have their basic needs, like a safe home and nutritious food, so they can reach their potential and break the cycle of poverty. Read about what motivates Terry's advocacy work, and find out what he argues to people who believe it's not their responsibility to “foot the bill” for someone else’s housing.
Seattle native Janice Tufte has been advocating on behalf of people living in poverty for over a decade.
“Your voices form the laws.” This is Janice Tufte’s motto, and she works to prove its truth through her housing advocacy efforts. Read about how Janice has catalyzed positive change and raised awareness about housing and homelessness issues through the Islamic Civic Engagement Project and her other volunteer efforts. You’re guaranteed to feel inspired!
The Washington Low Income Housing Alliance's new Emerging Advocates Program builds on the organization's strong history of supporting housing advocacy. In this photo, advocates rally at the state capitol at the Housing Alliance's Housing and Homelessness Advocacy Day on Feb. 11, 2013. Image credit: Washington Low Income Housing Alliance
At Firesteel, we believe that making your voice heard can spark change that will help end homelessness. The Washington Low Income Housing Alliance is a statewide leader in connecting community members who want to speak up with opportunities to make a difference. We're very excited about the Housing Alliance's new program focused on empowering people who have experienced homelessness or housing insecurity to share their stories and have a positive influence on budget and policy decisions. Guest blogger Alouise Urness explains the motivation for the program in today's post.
The number of women veterans is on the rise in the U.S. While some adjust well to civilian life, others struggle with a variety of barriers. This "From Soldier to Civilian" blog series will share veterans' experiences and explore the challenges that veterans, particularly women veterans, experience. Image credit: Oregon Department of Veterans Affairs
Many veterans experience barriers transitioning into civilian life, and some become homeless. Between now and Veterans Day, November 11, our “From Soldier to Civilian” blog series will examine barriers that veterans, and women veterans in particular, face as they re-enter civilian society. We’ll also share suggestions from experts – veterans themselves – on making the transition easier. Today we introduce you to Leanna, an Air Force veteran and single mom who struggles financially, in part because of the high cost of childcare.
In this promotional poster for “American Winter,” you see single mom Jeannette and her son Gunner, a Portland, Oregon family profiled in the documentary film. After Jeannette suddenly loses her husband, and Gunner his father, they end up homeless.
For those of us who feel securely middle class, the idea that a family would retrieve water from a bucket in the backyard, or that parents would go without food so that their children could eat, is unthinkable. That might be a reality for “other people,” maybe in other countries, separated from us by the insulation and distance provided by money. Unfortunately, many members of our community know what it is to live with reminders of the American Dream and signs of affluence all around, yet feel that they are living in a separate America. In this America, hunger is normal, poverty is real, and joblessness feels permanent. Perry Firth reflects on this reality, portrayed in the documentary film "American Winter," in this latest post in our Culture Watch blog series.
The arts not only reflect our society, but also have the potential to re-shape it by raising awareness and inspiring action. We’re excited to launch “Culture Watch,” a new blog series examining how issues related to homelessness are portrayed in movies, TV series, music, visual art displays, stage plays and more. Frequent guest blogger Perry Firth, a graduate assistant at Seattle University’s Project on Family Homelessness, contributed this first post. After watching the movie “Eden,” filmed in Eastern Washington and based on a true story of sexual trafficking, Perry was moved to reflect on the relationship between trafficking and homelessness.
An expert panel of community members who have experienced homelessness spoke at the Conference on Ending Homelessness. Photo credit: Janice Tufte.
The Washington Low Income Housing Alliance's excellent 2013 Conference on Ending Homelessness featured many of the speakers you'd expect -- direct service providers, policy wonks, elected officials, and leading advocates. But organizers also offered a panel discussion by experts we don't see often enough at these types of gatherings: people who have experienced homelessness themselves. They are, of course, voices we should be listening to as we advocate for an end to homelessness, and we commend the Housing Alliance for including their perspectives. We recorded a couple of their stories, and we've included videos of Mindy and David.
Featured advocate Norene Roberts has worked as a social services provider for over a decade.
What's the first step you should take when you advocate for an end to homelessness? Listen. "Advocating for any person or group first requires that you know what it is that that person or group wants and needs – not what we think they want and need – and that requires opening your ears before your mouth," says Norene Roberts, program manager at The Salvation Army’s Catherine Booth House, a domestic violence shelter for women and children. Norene shares her thoughts on advocating for housing stability in this installment of our "I'm An Advocate" series.
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!