The “Lunch Ladies,” And Other Islands of Calm in a Choppy Sea

 

As First Place School weathers another storm, dedicated staff and volunteers keep things afloat

By Catherine Hinrichsen, Project Director, Seattle University’s Project on Family Homelessness

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The very picture of serenity: Wube Worku of First Place School.

Last Friday, five days before school was scheduled to start, the halls of First Place School were fairly quiet.  In the classrooms of this school in Seattle’s Central District, brightly colored new backpacks stuffed with supplies were neatly lined up in the classroom cubbies. Volunteers like me from Seattle University‘s day of service were sprucing up the lunchroom bulletin boards and moving unneeded furniture into storage. In the kitchen, the “lunch lady,” Wube Worku, chopped vegetables and prepped the counters, pots and pans for a busy school year.

It all seemed cheerful and calm; but under the surface there was tension. Only days before, the school’s board had made the “business decision” to cut back from six grades — K-5 — to K-1 only. That decision left most of the school’s 90 homeless and vulnerable children without a school days before they were to start. For children and families in an already unstable situation, that’s a serious blow. Continue reading

Trauma-Informed Care, StoryCorps, and Host Homes for Youth: Some Highlights From WLIHA’s Conference on Ending Homelessness

Written by Perry Firth, project coordinator, Seattle University’s Project on Family Homelessness and school psychology graduate student

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Caption: This image captures just how many people attended WLIHA’s Conference on Ending Homelessness. As you can see, we were a big crowd! Image from WLIHA.

 This year I had the pleasure of attending the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance’s Conference on Ending Homelessness in Tacoma, May 13-14. I was there with over 800 people (the largest turnout yet), all devoted to making homelessness rare, brief and one time.

There were many highlights, including Firesteel’s presentation on StoryCorps and strategic communications, the Project on Family Homelessness’s “Dessert Dash” and StoryCorps workshop, and the sessions on host homes for homeless youth and trauma-informed care.

Firesteel shows how StoryCorps can be a valuable communication tool

I loved Firesteel’s presentation on StoryCorps and strategic communications. As part of the Project on Family Homelessness, I have had the honor of helping the StoryCorps effort reach its full potential. As the Firesteel team and Joaquin of WLIHA discussed StoryCorps’ many uses and the role of strategic communications in ending homelessness, I was reminded of how many lives this project has touched.

This was further emphasized to me when our own team hosted a workshop and “Dessert Dash” with Sherry and Franklin Gilliard—a family whose courage in the face of home loss and homelessness was profiled on NPR’s Friday StoryCorps segment this past November. Continue reading

Firesteel Adds New StoryCorps Section to their Website

***This post is a repost from the Firesteel website

Introducing the New StoryCorps Section of Our Website!

Alexis Gaines and her case manager Tanya Mendenhall Mettlen participated in the StoryCorps "Finding Our Way" project. In a new audio story produced from their interview, Alexis talks about how she tried to create positive memories for her son, even as they experienced homelessness together. Image credit: StoryCorps
Alexis Gaines and her case manager Tanya Mendenhall Mettlen participated in the StoryCorps “Finding Our Way” project. In a new audio story produced from their interview, Alexis talks about how she tried to create positive memories for her son, even as they experienced homelessness together. Image credit: StoryCorps

Written by Denise Miller, Firesteel Advocacy Coordinator

A Tacoma mom remembers being evicted from her home, and looking for a tent for her family of five. A Seattle teenager describes the challenges of doing homework while living in a car. A South King County11-year-old reflects on losing friends when they learned she didn’t have a home. These are just a few of the stories captured by the StoryCorps “Finding Our Way: Puget Sound Stories About Family Homelessness” initiative last summer, and now featured on a new section of our website.

I’ve been talking about the “Finding Our Way” project for almost a year now. Last spring, as we began inviting people to sit down with a loved one and share how homelessness has affected them, I wrote about how personal stories can build bridges between people and drive social change. Over the summer, I shared some of the most moving moments from our recording days. At Thanksgiving, I posted gratitude for the brave men, women and children who participated in the project and gave permission for their stories to be used for advocacy.

Now it’s time to invite you to listen to and share audio clips produced from the recordings. Our new StoryCorps page currently features five short stories that help listeners understand how homelessness affects families in our community, and we’ll continue adding stories over coming months.

Read more at the Firesteel website here.

Learn more about the StoryCorps project. Continue reading

Learn to Hone Your Story About Family Homelessness with “The Moth”

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The Moth training can help you hone your story. Photo credit: Roger Ho

Every story begins with an idea or an experience. But how do you take that and shape it into a compelling narrative?

The people at The Moth have it all figured out, and they’re coming to Seattle this February to conduct one of their acclaimed workshops on storytelling. The theme is “Home: Lost and Found,” and the stories will focus on family homelessness.

We’re looking for people who have a personal story related to family homelessness that they want to craft into a finely polished 5-minute gem that will captivate an audience. The workshop is free, but limited to 16 people..

We’re accepting applications now till Friday, Feb. 6, 2015. Apply now! Get more information on our project page. Good luck!

Homelessness and Poverty in the Public Education System: An Intro to Our Blog Series

This is a re-post from our partner, Firesteel, from Sept. 2, 2014.  This week, Firesteel began publishing an insightful seven-part series on homelessness in the classroom, written by our project coordinator, Perry Firth. Homelessness affects more than 30,000 school-age children in Washington state.
The series also includes brand-new infographics, designed by our digital design assistant, Krista Kent (see below). Read and share!

Children know when they are falling behind academically. As they continue to struggle, they can develop both low self esteem and a dislike of school. That is why it is so essential that children who need extra help get it.<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
Image from pixabay.com.

 

Children know when they are falling behind academically. As they continue to struggle, they can develop both low self esteem and a dislike of school. That is why it is so essential that children who need extra help get it. Image from pixabay.com.

As the new school year starts, teachers face many challenges. So do children who are dealing with homelessness and poverty. And this couldn’t be truer than for impoverished children who are also in need of special education services. With parents focusing on day-to-day survival and too busy to consistently advocate for their needs, children who are homeless may fail to receive the services they need to succeed in school.

The result is that children already harmed by their living circumstances can fall even further behind. Therefore, adults who work with children in poverty and homelessness need to understand how this environment influences academic skill and emotional development, and how it relates to special education needs.

So, we present this seven-part series on how homelessness and poverty affect the development of children, and how this can show up in the education system. Thanks to Perry Firth for contributing this important series.

Read the full post here and follow the seven-part series on Firesteel.

Also, check out these new infographics created for the series by our digital design assistant, Krista Kent. 

 

Continue reading