“Goodness, Resilience and Love”: Formerly Homeless Tacoma Family on StoryCorps Friday, 11/28

StoryCorps Gilliard Family-official version

Franklin and Sherry Gilliard, the Tacoma family whose story aired on StoryCorps Nov. 28.

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 aired Friday morning, Nov. 28 during StoryCorps’ “National Day of Listening” on National Public Radio’s Morning Edition.

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.

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.

The story, “Once Homeless, Family Feels ‘Blessed To Wake Up Another Day,'” 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. Here’s the official description of the story:

Sherry Gilliard talks with her husband Franklin Gilliard about losing their business and subsequently their home after the economic crash, their experience of becoming homeless and living in a shelter with their three children, and the love and faith that brought them through these hardships. The family is now in transitional housing in Tacoma, Wash.

“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.”

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StoryCorps Finding Our Way — Tacoma stories painful, uplifting, sincere

Our StoryCorps project, “Finding Our Way: Puget Sound Stories of Family Homelessness,” has completed its recordings in Pierce and Snohomish counties. In this post from the StoryCorps blog, our partner Michelle Bova reflects on the first recordings in Tacoma. Check it out!



StoryCorps Tanya Mettlen and Jordan Kemper Tacoma

Tacoma mom Jordan Kemper talked to Tanya Mettlen of Catholic Community Services of Western Washington for her recording. Photo by Jonathan Ross of CCS.


For another view on the StoryCorps week in Tacoma, read this wonderful column by Larry LaRue of the News Tribune.

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Guest Post: One Night in a Car, Our Family’s Story

Watching her child and grandchildren struggle with homelessness drove Diane to action. Read about their experiences and how Diane created a fantastic advocacy event scheduled for Aug. 22-23 in Pierce County.

Seattle University School of Theology and Ministry's Faith & Family Homelessness Project

Diane is a devoted wife, mother of two daughters and grandmother of three. She and her husband are entrepreneurs and have owned their own business for over 30 years. Diane has participated in 60-mile cancer walks, Kiwanis, Lions, and has volunteered with St Jude’s and the Make-A-Wish Foundation. She is a passionate advocate for better programs to prevent and eliminate family homelessness.

This is her family’s story.

One Night in a Car

Over the past year I’ve dreamt of being involved in an event where others can learn what it is like, just for one night, to sleep in your car. If nothing else, the event would increase community awareness around the many children who call the family car home. These kids wake up in their car and head off to school to return to a car that may or may not be in the same place. My family has…

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“Just A Chapter In My Life”: Tacoma Mom Previews StoryCorps for News-Tribune

Tacoma mom Jordan Kemper says that being homeless with her kids “was a chapter in my life; it doesn’t define me.” She talked to News Tribune columnist Larry LaRue about why she’ll be sharing her experiences with StoryCorps later this month. Read the column below.

To find out how you can share your story in King, Pierce or Snohomish counties this summer, contact findingourway@storycorps.org or call us at 206/398-4457.

Read more about the project here

News Tribune Logo

Larry LaRue: The homeless have their stories — and now they can tell them

Staff writer, Tacoma News Tribune

July 1, 2014


StoryCorps and Gates Foundation Launch “Finding Our Way” Project

NOTE: This blog post is about our StoryCorps project launch. For more recent information, see our StoryCorps page.

StoryCorps Tierra Jackson John Horan
One of the most memorable StoryCorps segments for the family homelessness community is the story of Tierra Jackson, who with her former principal John Horan reflected on what it was like to be homeless in high school. Photo credit: StoryCorps.

Every Friday morning at around 7:30 a.m., millions of people around the country are entranced by a weekly public radio segment in which everyday Americans tell the stories of their lives.  It’s the beloved StoryCorps, and it’s coming to our region in summer 2014 to find stories about families who have experienced homelessness.

While only about 50 of its stories per year make it onto National Public Radio, StoryCorps has actually recorded more than 50,000 stories in its 10 years. The stories are archived in the Library of Congress.

This July and August, people in Western Washington who have experienced family homelessness will be able to tell their own stories as part of the new StoryCorps project, “Finding Our Way: Puget Sound Stories about Family Homelessness.” The project is funded by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, who asked our Project on Family Homelessness to serve as the local coordinator.

We’ll be working with local host partners to find stories from among their current and recent clients, and also reaching out to the public to find people who have experienced family homelessness in their past. The stories will also be available for our advocacy efforts to end family homelessness in Washington state.

Find out how service providers can help us find the stories and use them to advocate. Got a story? Click to jump to the details.

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Journalism Project in Pierce County Wins National Award

South Sound Magazine photoWe’re thrilled to announce that our Journalism Fellow project in Pierce County has won a prestigious Sigma Delta Chi journalism award in the Public Service Journalism category.

The Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) today announced South Sound magazine, based in Tacoma, Wash., was honored for its in-depth report “The State of Family Homelessness in Pierce County,”  written by our Seattle University Journalism Fellow Jeff Burlingame.

The awards recognize the nation’s outstanding professional journalism. According to SPJ, the Public Service category is not only judged on the quality of the article, but on evidence of courage and initiative in overcoming opposition, effectiveness of presentation and results earned.

The team and all the winners will be honored at the award ceremony in Washington, D.C. on June 20. Congratulations, Jeff and team!  For more about the award, visit http://www.spj.org/sdxa13.asp.

Read the Series Here 

To read more about all our original Journalism Fellows projects, visit our Web site.