Thank You: It Takes a Village to End Homelessness


Sixth months ago today, I became homeless.  Three months ago today, I moved into my new home.  Sixth years ago today, my father passed away from a stroke.  Yesterday, I read The Art of Mending by Elizabeth Berg.  It is about a woman named Caroline who struggles to recover from childhood abuse and the sudden death of her father from a massive stroke.  Her sister designs quilts.  The quilting metaphor is used frequently by authors writing about abuse survival and recovery.

Before I move on to design my own crazy quilt for the rest of my life, I have a village of people to thank for artfully guiding me through the painful transition from the illusion of loving family to a real home built on a solid foundation.  Sadly, this journey often entails a detour into homelessness.

It takes a village to end homelessness, and I have been blessed to encounter a village of people who are ready, willing, and very able to create and implement programs that provide a true safety net.  They are all people who demonstrate enormous strength of character and integrity, and they weren’t easy to find.

Susan Dreyfus, Washington’s Secretary of DSHS, and her chief of staff  Tracy Guerin have been amazing.  And, I have been exceedingly fortunate to have the continuing support of Linda Baskin and her staff at WASHCAP as well as Ron Falberg and Amazing Grace Webb at DVR.

I’ve done a lot of favors for politicians, and I found three with remarkable integrity ~ all ironically linked to my work on Brightwater:  Dave Gossett, Gary Haakenson, and Ron Sims.  Snohomish County Council Chair Gossett referred me to Ken Stark and his resourceful team who have been working tirelessly to set up a network of strategic partnerships to prevent homelessness.  I want to give a special shout-out to Laura B. Clark, Lindsey Legaspi, Jerry Gadek, and Amanda Harpell-Franz.  I also want to applaud Jennifer Turin, who is the H-GAP genius for Washington’s Department of Commerce.  You all rock.  Thank you!

I am forever blessed for the strategic partnership between Ms. Legaspi and Bridgeways.  Dr. Piril Akman and her team are phenomenal.  The safety plan they created for me was brilliant, and I am exceedingly lucky for the folks who gave me a housing voucher for an amazing property with an excellent management team and in a fantastic location.  I’m sorry my need to protect my confidential address prevents me from listing all your names.

This week I went for a long walk on the trails that lace through my new home town.  Dozens of baby ducklings are learning how to survive and thrive.  I smile that we are all called drakes.  This mother duck is showing her ducklings how to find shelter from danger ~ a lesson I never got from the extensive Drake family.

The judge’s cleaning lady taught me a powerful lesson from the book of John in the Bible:  when our family of blood abandons us, we are smart to create a spiritual family.  She sheltered me when I was homeless the first time, and I have been abundantly blessed for the steadfast loyalty of my godmother, Marilyn Stanton, the Hanajenko family, Tom and Edie, Kiwi Mary, and Inga.  I will also be forever grateful for the professional support of Rene Renick at the NNEDV and Deanna Dawson at Justice at Stake in Washington, D.C.

Finally, I want to thank you, my dear readers, for your loyalty and support.

 The top and bottom photos of the mother duck and her ducklings were taken at a pond along the nature trails near my new home.  The gorgeous purple flowers in the butterfly pot ~ don’t you love the symbolism ~ were a housewarming gift from Ms. Legaspi ~ thank you, Lindsey.  The photo of the Byrds was taken at the Rodeo Inn ~ where I spent my three months of being homeless.

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