The purpose of the Seattle University Project on Family Homelessness is to engage the public in ending family homelessness.  Most people know us because of the Journalism Fellowships on Family Homelessness, which was our first initiative four years ago.

We’ve been up to a lot since then.

Want to learn more? Visit About Us, or link to our blog to see our most up-to-date news. Or, like us on Facebook.

Our biggest projects this summer and fall of 2014 are the StoryCorps “Finding our Way” project and supporting the work of our sister project, Film & Family Homelessness.

We hope you’ll find some fresh ideas for how you can work with us to make homelessness among families rare, brief and not repeated.

Thank you for visiting us.

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“Goodness, Resilience and Love”: Formerly Homeless Tacoma Family on StoryCorps Friday

StoryCorps Tacoma sign on door

The Gilliard family first recorded their story at CCS in July. Here’s the “farewell and thanks” sign that CCS staff posted on their front door that week.


We’re feeling grateful for the bounty of heartfelt stories that Puget Sound families told StoryCorps this summer, and amazingly, a second story from our project has been selected for national broadcast.  The story is scheduled to air this Friday morning, Nov. 28 during StoryCorps’ “National Day of Listening” on National Public Radio’s Morning Edition. Find out how to listen below.

The story was recorded as part of our project, “Finding Our Way: Puget Sound Stories About Family Homelessness.” “Finding Our Way,” funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is a collaboration between Catholic Community Services of Western Washington (CCS), YWCA Seattle | King | Snohomish and Seattle University Project on Family Homelessness.

This week’s story features the Gilliard family of Tacoma, Wash., who first recorded their story at CCS in July. StoryCorps producer Eve Claxton heard their story and invited them back for an additional recording in early November, also at CCS, and from that recording the story was produced. Eve gives us a preview of the story:

“It’s very affecting. It starts with them in their home with debt collectors knocking on the door, goes on to describe how they asked the bank for help but that didn’t work, how they ended up homeless. How the mother found herself at REI looking at tents for a family of five, how they ended up in a shelter, how she would hide everything so that her colleagues at the school wouldn’t know, how they’re in transitional housing now, and how every night they have a circle of thanks, where they go around the table and say what they’re grateful for.”

“Friday is our ‘National Day of Listening,’ and for that broadcast we always try to air pieces that embody goodness, resilience and love,” Eve said. “The Gilliards are a very special family and everyone here is excited to share their story on such a special day.”


We collected nearly 75 stories in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties this summer.  Eve has been recording about 15-20 additional stories, and in some cases asking back people like the Gilliards who recorded their stories at one of our local sessions.

Get a glimpse behind the scenes of the Tacoma recordings from this post on the StoryCorps blog in August.

Where can people hear the story?

StoryCorps airs during the National Public Radio (NPR) program “Morning Edition,” usually around 6:20 & 8:20 a.m., but please check your local listings to determine when your station airs Morning Edition. In the Seattle area, KUOW (94.9 FM) airs StoryCorps at 5:25 and 7:25 a.m., as does KPLU (88.5 FM). 

Check here to find an NPR station in your area.

You will also be able to hear the story on NPR’s website,  and it will be the top story on the StoryCorps page later. We’ll also post it here when it’s available

Second story from this project to air

This story is the second national story to come out of our project.  Earlier, Kris and Erika Kalberer talked about living in their car with their family of four, in their story that aired Aug. 22

It’s rare for two stories from the same project to make it onto the StoryCorps broadest, according to Michelle Bova of StoryCorps. “About one out of every 100 stories we record across all of our programs goes to air.  These are just great stories, the participants were very honest and forthcoming, and this collection obviously hit on some really unique and personal moments.”

StoryCorps Launch SC with CCS

StoryCorps and CCS staff at the kickoff in June at the Gates Foundation. L-R: Michelle Bova and Eve Claxton of StoryCorps with CCS staff Jonathan Ross, Denny Hunthausen, Tanya Mettlen and Alan Brown. Photo by Steve Schimmelman.

Many thanks and gratitude to the CCS staff for all their devotion to this project — especially Alan Brown, Tanya Mettlen and Jonathan Ross — and for their tireless work to help the Pierce County families who experience homelessness. Above all, thank you to the families like the Gilliards for sharing their stories of goodness, resilience and love.

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