COMPARED TO WHAT?

Poetry zine gives voice to Sand Point Housing youthCover of Compared to What? A publication of Solid Ground's Sand Point Young Artist Workshop

The youth who live at Solid Ground’s Sand Point Housing campus do not see themselves as a continuation of their parents’ lives. “I get super annoyed when I am compared,” one girl says. “It’s just irritating because that is just saying that you don’t really know who I am if I am being compared.”

Thus the title COMPARED TO WHAT? was born for the zine that developed out of a writing and arts workshop series Solid Ground held last fall for the older teens living with their families at Sand Point, a neighborhood of 175 households at the old Naval Station of Puget Sound in Magnuson Park.

The workshops were based in the principle that everyone’s voice should be heard. Starting with writing sessions led by Seattle storyteller and educator Kathya Alexander, they continued with photography and design sessions led by Solid Ground staff. Through it all, young people found their voices. “Their growth was beautiful to see,” says Christina Shimizu, Annual Giving Officer at Solid Ground and one of the staff supporters of this youth-driven project.

Creative prompts helped unleash the power of the pen

Starting out with writing prompts and progressing to original poems helped the participants feel comfortable, not only with writing, but also with one another. Within this supportive group setting, the youth quickly gained confidence and began to share their personal experiences – an important outlet for previously homeless youth who have not had many opportunities to express themselves creatively.

One of the teens comments about the project, “This is the first time we are actually getting heard, with a different point of view. Our point of view. We think differently from the way adults think. We can also teach adults how we think, because our generation is so different than your guys’ generation. I feel like we know so much more.”

I am a rare solar eclipse
Gray and overlooked
A tough cactus
Midnight, calm and relaxing
I am needed like air
A glistening diamond
The illusion that the sky is blue”

Teen photographer After a few writing sessions, Sand Point Case Manager and experienced photographer, Bellen Drake, led a photography workshop focused on visual aspects of the storytelling process. She spent a day with the youth taking photos and teaching them to use their cameras to capture the essence of their experiences, which for most is shaped by poverty-induced instability. Although most of the poets moved into long-term housing years ago and no longer identify as being homeless, Bellen notes that “it was a valuable opportunity to reflect on a time that impacted them as children, and they have now grown out of. It was a time in their past; homelessness is not their current situation.”

There were multiple leaders within the group and it was an entirely collaborative effort to put the zine together and publish it in January. The poems and images bring to mind the vividness of young romance and deep angst, mixed with materialistic egos and happy innocence. The young artists reveal their dreams and aspirations of growing up, as well as their multidimensional approach to discovering the answers to “What is Justice?”

COMPARED TO WHAT? showcases this unique community and amplifies voices that too often go unheard.

Our published writers & artists are: Ayanle Abdikadir (Abdi), Mohamed Abdikadir, Nya Rambang, Marie, Sahvannah Glenn, Maar Rambang, Heaven, Ryahnna, Geo, Chris Gainey, Ben Dessalegne, Jen Matapula, Andrea R, Deiosha Sparks.

To get your copy of Compared to What? or learn more about how you can support the youth at Sand Point Housing, contact Christina Shimizu at christinas@solid-ground.org.

Cooking Matters: A recipe for changing lives

Cooking Matter class at Brettler Family Place

At the end of their second class, participants and volunteers line up to share the dinner they’ve just prepared together.

There aren’t many activities that can compete with sharing a home-cooked meal with family, neighbors and friends. That is until you combine it with lessons that put a smile on your child’s face and give you a repertoire of resources and know-how to keep your family healthy.

Cooking Matters is a Solid Ground program offering six-week classes designed to teach healthy habits, mindful shopping, food competence and meal planning – all with a dash of fun.

At the start of one recent class for Brettler Family Place residents, two families queued up outside the community kitchen bathroom to wash their hands while volunteers unpacked ingredients on the chef’s table. After washing their hands, the father and mother of one family automatically grabbed a can of beans and began reading the label and asking questions. This was only their second class, but they were already forming healthy habits.

Describing the healthy lifestyle changes Cooking Matters promotes, Program Supervisor Raquel DeHoyos explained, “It’s like brushing your teeth. You just have to make a habit out of it. Our format is pretty basic. We just want to give everyone the same foundation – some basics and go-tos – if you’re looking to incorporate healthy eating habits.”

Solid Ground partners with Share Our Strength, a national organization working to end childhood hunger, which provides curricula, supplies and staff training for the program – along with tasty recipes. The simple recipes prepared during this class were nutritious, quick and packed a punch of flavor. The families and volunteers unanimously voted the appetizer – a spicy white bean dip served with pita slices – as the new football game snack favorite.

One rule of the class requires each participant to taste everything once to expand food choices and sharpen palates. The families played a blind taste test game with this rule in mind. While the parents were pleasantly surprised by jicama, the kids enjoyed pomegranate and grapefruit the most – sometimes sneaking to the bowls on the back table to grab more. Volunteers provided tips on how to incorporate their favorite items in future meals and suggested alternatives if those ingredients weren’t available.

Cooking Matters is funded through SNAP Ed and an annual fundraiser called Chefs Night Out. Program sponsors, Whole Foods Market and Charlie’s Produce, donate all the food for the program, so families living on a limited budget have at least one fallback meal for the week. The families were given a helping of each selection from the taste game, as well as all the ingredients for the meal they prepared for dinner to experiment with at home. Not only do families get to practice cooking the recipes, but they have the opportunity to share quality time cooking and eating as a family at home.

“It’s so easy for people to connect over food and cooking,” Raquel affirmed. At the end of class, when everyone sat down to eat the meal they had prepared together, there was a sense of shared accomplishment – delight evident on everyone’s smiling faces. The class is a social event as much as a learning opportunity – a chance to escape from the stresses of life.

Raquel recalls a past participant’s gratitude for the stability the class provided in her hectic life. “A mother of two kids experiencing homelessness took who knows how many buses to get to class each week. She said that every other aspect of her life was so discombobulated, and this class was the only thing that kept them together.

“They needed something routine and structured,” Raquel explained, “because they didn’t have that in the rest of their lives. This mother was able to go to class with her children, which was fun and an escape from worries. At the same time she looked forward to having at least one meal at home with her family. And now she can’t keep her youngest away from vegetables. She has to constantly watch him at the farmers market because he is always trying to eat the veggies. That’s a true testament to what this class can do,” Raquel laughed.

In 2013, Cooking Matters served a total of 740 participants in 58 sessions. This year – Cooking Matters’ 20th anniversary – the program is reaching toward a goal of 65 six-week sessions, and expansion statewide through satellite partners.

Raquel believes in the positive influence these classes have on the lives of those living on low or middle incomes. “For me, this program is about much more than cooking. This program can change a person’s life forever. Even if you’re only working with these people for six weeks, they take it with them, and they will continue to cook. They may not take everything, but they will take what works for them.”

Look for the Cooking Matters app available on iTunes and Google Play. If you are interested in getting involved or would like more information, please contact Cooking Matters staff at 206.694.6846 or at cooking@solid-ground.org

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University Rotary Club’s gift to Solid Ground has the kids jumping with joy

joey jumpsThe Rotary Club of the University District selected Solid Ground to receive a gift in honor of the club’s 75th anniversary. During the club meeting in Dec. 2013, Solid Ground’s Resource Development Director Dean McColgan and Director of Residential Services Dee Hills received the generous $50,000 gift from Marella Alejandrino, University Rotary President.

The gift funded the creation of a playground at Brettler Family Place, projected to open in March 2014, on the Rotary Club’s anniversary month. This partnership and gift will benefit the families of our Sand Point Housing Campus, and will be a step towards helping children overcome the impact of homelessness.

Solid Ground’s President & CEO Gordon McHenry, Jr. stated, “University Rotary truly understands what it means to be a good community partner. This generous gift will go a long way in helping our Sand Point families continue to move beyond the issues they face due to poverty and help them build a better future.”

“Rotary’s motto is Service Above Self,” Alejandrino said. “We seek community partnerships with organizations like Solid Ground that provide vital services to our community. We’re delighted to have chosen a project to bring exercise and joy to the children of the Brettler Family Place.”

This partnership with the University Rotary Club will play a positive role in the lives of Sand Point Campus children, giving them a joyful place to play and grow for years to come!

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Visit the University Rotary Club website for more information about the organization.

Kids’ programs spark interests and create bonds

4-H Puppy Power

Puppy Power encourages reading on the Sand Point Campus

For families who have experienced homelessness, finding the time and money to participate in afterschool programs can be challenging. However, these activities and programs play an important role in building a foundation for growth and healing after families enter permanent or transitional housing.

With this in mind, staff at Brettler Family Place and Sand Point Housing have been busy building relationships with community program providers to make sure that the children have opportunities to learn and enjoy their childhoods.

Joanna Tarr, a Children’s Case Manager at the Sand Point Campus, is grateful for the wealth of events and activities community partners and local programs provide. “Brettler Family Place has a small staff,” Joanna says, “so outside programs are very important.” Once all the construction is complete, Sand Point Housing and Brettler Family Place is estimated to house up to 250 children. Community partners’ and volunteers’ continued support is greatly appreciated and necessary to ensure the kids receive the best opportunities.

“Offering a variety of activities,” explains Joanna, “ensures the kids have the opportunity to find what they want to do in their lives, gives them a lot of interests, keeps them busy and active, and creates opportunities and positive experiences they might not have otherwise.”

The activities and programs vary wildly. Some kids have dirtied their hands refurbishing old bikes (a program at the Cascade Bike Club) and building remote control cars, while others play sports, learn to cook nutritious meals (Cooking Matters and Apple Corps), or create works of art (curriculum provided by A Window Between Worlds as a means to use creative expression to overcome trauma). As Joanna states, “You never know what’s going to catch a kid,” and so the more exposure to different arts and occupations, the more possibilities each child has to find a passion, deal with stress, and learn skills for the future.

There are plenty of ways for the children to study. Kumon, a learning center in University Village, provides free program admission for the Sand Point children who are able to make it out to their location. Local high school students and adult tutors also volunteer their time four times a week to tutor the kids and help with homework. Science and engineering events and exhibits, provided by the Museum of Flight and Pacific Science Center, have also been held onsite.

Perhaps the most adorable educational program at The Sand Point Campus is offered by Puppy Power, a 4-H group that trains service pets. Once a month, kids and canines convene for an hour-long reading session. The relaxed atmosphere and open puppy ears encourage reading and help the children keep up with school reading assignments.

Building life skills and teaching cooperation is also a focus. The Girl Scouts have been an integral part of learning and fun in the community. Two times a week, the Girl Scouts nurture confidence and responsibility through leadership training, cooperation activities with the troop, community service projects and, of course, the peddling of their scrumptious cookies. In acknowledgement of their hard work and progress, the girls of Brettler have performed the flag-raising ceremony at a Mariners game and at the Girl Scouts’ annual luncheon.

The Mountaineers have been active with Sand Point kids as well – crafting a new generation of fit and rugged Pacific Northwest outdoorspeople. With the help of University of Washington volunteers, the Mountaineers open their facility and offer their expertise to teach the kids rock climbing, survival, first aid and navigation – all of which culminates in a final ‘survivor’ event.

In addition to keeping minds sharp, the programs keep bodies busy. The recently finished Tennis Center Sand Point contributes tennis instructions for kids during half-day and no-school days, and even offers exemplary students scholarships for regular classes. Soccer and football are staple activities for many of the kids, and the kids have even canoed and kayaked on Lake Washington. The local YMCA also opens their facilities to the kids at much appreciated discounts, and the City of Seattle Magnuson Community Center holds events and activities at Brettler throughout the year including hiring and training teens to work as counselors at the summer camps. This amazing program provides teens with jobs skills and experience, and gives the younger children a productive way to spend the summer.  

While it’s never certain which activity might ignite a passion or spark a future career, we are certain of the influence these activities can have on the kids. The success rate at Brettler is high, according to Joanna. “There’s a great sense of community. There’s a Brettler clique. The kids have bonded to each other and support each other.” While she admits a large part of the supportive relationship comes from the stability permanent housing affords, Joanna, who has been at Brettler practically since it opened, concedes she’s seen a change. “The kids get to know each other in different ways than if they were just neighbors. When they participate in all these activities they get to know each other on a deeper level – doing activities like rock climbing where they have to support each other.”

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We are looking for great volunteers to support our children’s programming at Sand Point! If you’re interested in getting involved or would like more information, please contact our Volunteer Coordinator at volunteers@solid-ground.org or at 206.694.6825.

Community Report 2012: ‘Breaking the cycle of generational poverty’

Solid Ground's Community Report 2012

Solid Ground’s Community Report 2012

Hot off the press! Solid Ground’s report to our community on our 2012 work and accomplishments is now available. “Breaking the cycle of generational poverty” reports on recent impacts we’ve made in our community. But it also highlights the long-term positive change our programs can have in the lives of the people who access our services, and the ripple effect this has on their children’s lives.

As Solid Ground approaches our 40th anniversary, we remain focused and committed to our mission to end poverty in our community, and to help our society become one without racism and other oppressions.

Our engagement in this work is only possible through the support of passionate and committed employees, donors, volunteers, and government and nonprofit partners. With this continued support, we look forward to working ever more purposefully to help families and individuals overcome the challenges of living in poverty and progress to a place of thriving.

Feel free to share “Breaking the cycle of generational poverty” with others who may be interested in our work. If you’re not already on our mailing list and would like a hard copy of the report mailed to you, please email your mailing address to publications@solid-ground.org.

Housing shapes up at Magnuson Park

Sand Point Housing construction continues apace at Magnuson Park. Solid Ground is adding permanent supportive housing for previously homeless families, single men and women. We hope to have the two new buildings complete late this year and leased up soon thereafter.

Framing of Building 5 along Sand Point Way.

Framing of Building 5 along Sand Point Way.

Building 4, nestled in the courtyard of Brettler Family Place.

Building 4, nestled in the courtyard of Brettler Family Place.

Building 5 takes shape south of the long barracks building on Sand Point Way.

Building 5 takes shape south of the long barracks building on Sand Point Way.

Building 5 from the balcony of the Lowry Community Center.

Building 5 from the balcony of the Lowry Community Center.

Once completed, the new facilities will bring to 200 the total number of homes at Sand Point for formerly homeless people!

Supportive housing taking shape at Sand Point

The final phase of Solid Ground’s housing development at the former Naval Station Puget Sound is taking place along Sand Point Way and just to the east of our Brettler Family Place.

Building 5, view from the south

Building 5, view from the south

Building 5, now being framed in the area just south of the long brick historic barracks building, contains five family homes as well as housing for 33 single men and women.

Building 4, which is nestled into the southeast side of Brettler Family Place, contains 16 homes for families.

When the facilities are completed in December, Solid Ground will be operating 99 homes for formerly homeless families and 75 for formerly homeless men and women on the campus. All residents receive supportive services to make the Sand Point campus a a model stepping stone from supportive housing to long-term personal stability.

Building 4, view from the north; this meadow will eventually be turned into a playground for the 200 children who will live on site.

Building 4, view from the north; this meadow will eventually be turned into a playground for the 200 children who will live on site.

For more information, go to our website.

The humanity of homelessness

Several Solid Ground staff members participated in the annual One Night Count of homeless people in King County described in this post. Guest contributor Ray Lumpp is a writer for AllTreatment.com, a website devoted to helping individuals and families facing addiction and mental health issues in Washington State.Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness logo

In the early hours of January 25, 2013, over 900 volunteers for the Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness (SKCCH) spread out across the city and county, searching for men, women and children sleeping outdoors without shelter. Since 1980, SKCCH and Operation Nightwatch have organized the One Night Count. Today, it remains the largest community-organized count in the United States.

In 2013, at least 2,736 men, women and children were found sleeping in cars, riding late-night buses, or curled up in blankets under bridges or in doorways during the three-hour street count – a 5% increase from last year’s total. This number is always assumed to be an underestimate: It is impossible to count everywhere, and many people take great care not to be visible.

Estimated number of people found on the streets or sleeping in cars in Seattle/King Co., '06-'13 (chart by Ray Lumpp, 2013)

Estimated number of people found on the streets or sleeping in cars in Seattle/King Co., ’06-’13 (chart by Ray Lumpp, ’13)

This year, one group of volunteers, including Councilmember Sally Clark, discovered the dead body of a 60-year-old woman near the terminus of I-90 – a sobering reminder of what’s at stake for homeless individuals.

While the One Night Count provides a basic census for tracing the problem of homelessness in King County, another volunteer-based group assembled by the City of Seattle sought to dig deeper. One evening in April 2009, the Homeless Needs Assessment group surveyed 297 homeless people and recorded demographic information for an additional 89 individuals, providing a crucial glimpse of life on the street.

Think of homelessness as a local problem: Most homeless people in Seattle have been living without shelter for over a year and 23% have been living without shelter for over six years. Nearly two thirds reported living in Seattle, and 19% elsewhere in Washington, when they became homeless. Although 91% of people living on the streets would like to find housing, people often wait two years or more for affordable housing options to open up.

Racial disproportionality of Seattle's homeless population compared to the general population (chart by Ray Lumpp, '13)

Racial disproportionality of Seattle’s homeless population compared to the general population (chart by Ray Lumpp, ’13)

Compared to Seattle’s general population, there was a disproportionate number of African Americans (29%), Hispanic or Latinos (13%), and Native Americans (6%), which is similar to the disproportionate number of people with unmet addiction treatment needs. Limited access to information about homeless services is a continuing problem: 67% learned of available services through word of mouth or on the street, while only 10% reported learning of services from an agency or program. Coordinating an effective outreach effort among food banks, drop-in centers, and shelters may help increase access to services.

Food and hygiene programs are the most common services used by homeless people in Seattle. Seventy percent reported using a food bank in the last six months and 48% used meal programs. About half reported using hygiene centers, but only 37% reported staying in a shelter during the last six months. Most of these programs are run and supported by local volunteers, community groups, and ex-homeless people looking to give back and stay clean.

Another telling statistic is that 60% reported health conditions requiring professional care. Though the conditions may range from diabetes to alcoholism, many homeless people use emergency departments for their health needs instead of primary care physicians – wasting time, energy, and taxpayer dollars. In answer to this, DESC (Downtown Emergency Service Center) focuses on the needs of homeless chronic alcoholics who are the heaviest users of publicly-funded crisis services. Exploring other alternative housing models may also help shelter more people in the future.

Interestingly, people who received medical care accessed services at a higher rate. Respondents with recent hospitalization or mental health treatment made greater use of meal programs, hygiene centers, shelter, and other services than those not receiving medical care.

While homelessness continues to be a growing national problem, there are many ways you can create a positive change in your community. Volunteer with a shelter or housing program. (Solid Ground’s Broadview Shelter and Brettler Family Place at Sand Point Housing both have volunteer opportunities.) Donate clean clothes (especially shoes), books, toys, diapers, shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrushes, blankets, old cell phones, or even gift cards to Starbucks or a grocery store. (Broadview Shelter and Sand Point Housing both also have in-kind donation wish lists.)

You can also give money or gift cards to people experiencing homelessness on the street. Do not ignore them. If you have nothing else to give, simply smile and look into his or her eyes and let them know, even just by noticing them, that you recognize their humanity and that you care.

New construction begun at Sand Point Housing

Earlier this month, Solid Ground broke ground on two new sites on our Sand Point Housing campus to begin building 54 new homes for formerly homeless people.

This building will hold 33 homes for single adults and six homes for families.

This building will hold 33 homes for single adults and six homes for families.

The 21 new homes for families and 33 for single adults fulfill the City’s vision of supportive housing for people overcoming homelessness at the former Sand Point Naval Station, which was articulated in the 1997 Reuse Plan.

“Since the initial transitional housing was redeveloped in old Navy buildings and opened in 2000, more than 2,000 people have used the facility as a stepping stone on their journey back to stability and thriving,” said Gordon McHenry, Jr., Solid Ground’s President & CEO. “The program’s ongoing success is based on partnerships among service providers and deep, supportive connections in the local community.”

Future home for 15 formerly homeless families

Future home for 15 formerly homeless families

Site map showing locations of the new buildings

Site map showing locations of the new buildings

View from the south at the site where six family homes and 33 for singles will be constructed

View from the south at the site where six family homes and 33 for singles will be constructed

View from the north at the site where six family homes and 33 for singles will be constructed

View from the north at the site where six family homes and 33 for singles will be constructed

Aerial view looking from the top of Brettler Family Place at the site where 15 family homes will be built

Aerial view looking from the top of Brettler Family Place at the site where 15 family homes will be built

View from the north where 15 family homes will nestle into this wing of Brettler Family Place

View from the north where 15 family homes will nestle into this wing of Brettler Family Place

View from the east where 15 family homes will nestle into this wing of Brettler Family Place

View from the east where 15 family homes will nestle into this wing of Brettler Family Place

Construction banners along Sand Point Way NE

Construction banners along Sand Point Way NE

Adrienne Karls, a resident of Solid Ground’s Santos Place transitional housing on the Magnuson Park campus, said, “We’ve come from being on the street or in our car. We’ve come from homeless shelters. We’ve all come from being in despair. This place has been somewhere I have been able to grow and appreciate things that I haven’t before in life. This community has given me tools and skills to build my future on. I’m confident it will do the same for the people who will move into these new buildings as well.”

Major funding for the project comes from Enterprise Community Partners, The City of Seattle and the Brettler Family Foundation. The project should be completed by late 2013!

Solid Ground names new leadership team

Gordon McHenry, Jr., Solid Ground President & CEO

Gordon McHenry, Jr., Solid Ground President & CEO

Solid Ground is pleased to announce that Gordon McHenry, Jr. has been named President & Chief Executive Officer. McHenry most recently served as the Executive Director of the Rainier Scholars, a Seattle-based academic enrichment and leadership development agency. Rainier Scholars increases college graduation rates for low-income students of color by providing comprehensive support from 6th grade until college graduation.

Solid Ground also announces that Sandi Cutler has been named Chief Operations & Strategy Officer. Instrumental in the growth of Bastyr University and other agencies, Cutler brings significant strategic, operational and organizational development experience.

The hirings highlight a time of intentional introspection and change at the King County nonprofit, as the agency implements a new strategic plan calling for increased collaboration and coordination among its services.

“We are thrilled to bring this talented leadership team to Solid Ground,” stated Lauren McGowan, Solid Ground Board Chair. “We undertook a national search and in our own backyard found leadership whose careers and life stories embody the notion of creating opportunity for all to thrive,” she said.

“People in our communities continue to suffer from the prolonged economic downturn,” McGowan said. “As an agency, we are being called on to do more, often with less. Gordon and Sandi have the vision and skills to expand Solid Ground’s response to poor and oppressed people, as well as our advocacy to address root causes of social injustice.”

“Fundamentally, it’s about leadership,” McHenry said. “We envision Solid Ground being perceived as a key leader when it comes to addressing economic disparities.”

McHenry previously served in a variety of executive leadership roles in The Boeing Company, most recently as Director of Global Corporate Citizenship in the Northwest Region. A lifelong member of the Seattle community, McHenry has served on many local boards, including the Central Area Motivation Program (now called Centerstone), United Way and The Seattle Public Library. He currently serves on the boards of Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust and Seattle University.

McHenry’s father was the first African-American engineer promoted into management at Boeing, as well as the first person in his family to graduate from college. His mother grew up and was educated in a segregated community in Texas. Their experiences gave their children deep respect for education and a strong belief in being active community leaders.

Cutler’s father led efforts to desegregate public schools in the Central Valley of California. His legacy bore fruit in Cutler’s early work as a political activist and management of progressive political campaigns and reform efforts.

“I am delighted to team up with Sandi Cutler. His activist roots and organizational development experience will help Solid Ground strengthen our community by giving more people the firm foundation they need to succeed,” McHenry said.

Ruth Massinga, Interim CEO since August 2011, will continue working with Solid Ground through the fall on several strategic initiatives.

“Ruth stepped out of retirement and guided us through a strategic refocusing. We are indebted to her for the gift of leadership,” McGowan said.

On Solid Ground at Sand Point Capital Campaign complete!

This update was contributed by Joan Caine, Capital Campaign Consultant. Scroll down for a slideshow of photos by Arthur Shwab featuring four of the first families to live at Brettler Family Place.

Andrew & his dad Hugo play together on the jungle gym

Andrew & Hugo play together on the jungle gym

The On Solid Ground at Sand Point Capital Campaign reached its fundraising goal in February 2012, marking a new beginning for families and formerly homeless individuals, including veterans. The first 51 families moved in during the spring of 2011, and there is already an active community taking shape. Phase II construction begins in September 2012, and by the fall of 2013, Brettler Family Place and Sand Point Housing will be home to over 100 adults and nearly 200 children.

Sand Point Housing represents a bold new way to utilize defunct military bases for the public good. It speaks to all that is best about our community commitment to end homelessness.

Capital campaigns call upon vision, rigorous planning, and the investment of a wide range of public and private donors. Despite the campaign having launched less than one year before the dramatic economic recession, the community rallied behind the project and ensured its success. We are deeply grateful for the generosity of our campaign donors.

As we look to the future, we know that housing is just the beginning at Sand Point. Our wraparound services are growing to meet the needs of the families and individuals who are now residents. As we address immediate needs through programs that build financial skills, teach cooking and nutrition, connect families to mental health and employment services, and offer a full complement of children’s programs, we know that the long-term goal is to ensure that each resident moves to a place of thriving and stability.

Our intention is to end cycles of generational poverty through the comprehensive approach at Brettler Family Place and Sand Point Housing.

We believe in the future of our residents and the successful completion of the capital campaign is the community’s vote of confidence that better days are ahead for all of the men, women and children who will call Sand Point their home.

In December 2011, photographer Arthur Shwab photographed several families in and around their new homes at Brettler Family Place:

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http://www.arthurshwab.com/ ~ www.arthurshwab.com/blog

 

A message of thanks to our supporters

During the past year, you have helped Solid Ground expand efforts to end poverty for local families and individuals and move them toward stability. You helped us:

Brettler Family Place

Open Brettler Family Place…
providing 51 formerly homeless families with permanent housing and supportive services. Brettler Family Place is now a vibrant community of over 120 children and their parents. It is a place of stability, security and hope. We break ground to build an additional 54 homes in 2013!

A work party at Seattle Community Farm, June 2011

Seattle Community Farm, June 2011

Raise our first crops…
at the Seattle Community Farm, bringing fresh organic produce to people in the Rainier Valley who did not have access to affordable, healthy produce. The Farm is pioneering a work-trade volunteer model that values the talents and contributions of the community members who receive this nutritious food.

Launch the groundbreaking Pathway to Career AmeriCorps team…
which melds our national community service model with intensive work readiness training to help disadvantaged youth overcome barriers to success.

Break down barriers to homeless prevention services…
for immigrant and other marginalized communities by building intentional partnerships with community-based organizations that enable people to access services in a direct, culturally-sensitive and efficient manner.

Lead the statewide advocacy effort to pass the Foreclosure Fairness Bill…
giving consumers a mediation tool that results in fewer repossessed houses and more people staying in their homes.

These efforts and other improvements in our programs mean that Solid Ground will help more people than ever before in 2011.

But we need to do even more to heal the traumas caused by homelessness and hunger, and stabilize our community. To that end, we are looking ahead to implementing more comprehensive wrap-around services, giving the people who come to us even more tools and resources to be successful.

We are proud of our history of taking innovative action in response to community needs. Right now, we are focusing our passion for progressive social change on strategies that will increase our impact with the people we serve, so that we can meet them wherever they are and support them until they thrive.

Solid Ground's Continuum of Care

Solid Ground envisions a more comprehensive continuum of care, connecting our program participants to resources inside our doors as well as those outside. We look forward to sharing details with you in the coming year.

Since our early days as an emergency services provider in a little northend neighborhood, we have relied on the passion, creativity and financial support of caring people to counter poverty in our community. For over 38 years, donors and volunteers like you have helped our community weather the economic storms, build upon our strengths, and bring hundreds of thousands of our neighbors and friends to solid ground.

Most importantly, you joined with us to help build a strong community by giving over 64,000 vulnerable people support and opportunities to thrive.

On behalf of everyone at Solid Ground, thank you!

You can continue to support Solid Ground through our online donation portal.

On an upward continuum

Our November 2011 Groundviews newsletter features a remarkable young woman who is both one of the first residents in permanent housing at our Brettler Family Place and is giving a year of service through our Washington Reading Corps. To read the entire issue, visit our Publications webpage.

Silhouette of a mother and daughter at a jungle gym

By serving with WA Reading Corps and living at Brettler Family Place, Penni Carter accesses services while giving back.

A year of AmeriCorps service can be challenging for anyone. Members of Solid Ground’s Washington Reading Corps, for instance, tutor children who read below grade level five days a week – and take intensive leadership development, social justice and anti-racism trainings – all while living on a subsistence stipend. For Penni Carter (not her real name), add to that the struggle of landing on her 27-year-old feet, fresh from escaping domestic violence.

“I was with her dad,” she says, pointing to her two-year-old cutie pie in a pink tutu. “And it was not a healthy relationship. I just got to the point where [I felt], ‘I can’t do this anymore and I don’t want my daughter to end up getting hurt.’ So, I packed up a suitcase and a stroller, and I literally just walked away from my life.”

Accessing support while giving back
Solid Ground provides a range of services that meet people at various stops along their life journeys. When Penni was preparing to exit her domestic violence shelter, she connected with a Solid Ground JourneyHome Case Manager who helped her apply for permanent housing in our new Brettler Family Place program. In addition to housing, Brettler provides support services and case management for formerly homeless families. People accepted to live there must have stable jobs or be moving in a positive direction in their work lives.

Penni moved into Brettler last spring. Soon after, she learned of Washington Reading Corps (WRC) through a coworker and became a volunteer in its summer program, Cities of Service. From there she applied for and was accepted to serve a year with WRC. Thus, she became both a program participant and an AmeriCorps Member with Solid Ground.

Opportunities for self-awareness & growth
Like all Solid Ground employees, Penni and her fellow WRC Members were sent to Undoing Institutional Racism (UIR) training, an intensive experience that unpacks the impacts of racism in America.

“I went to the UIR training and that was life changing,” Penni says. “Being white, you have to look at yourself. It is not them that is the problem, it is me, too. And I have mixed kids, so it really hits home. A lot of these things that people of color are expressing, my kids are going to go through, too. I’m a white woman, so it is hard to find that balance: How do I support them and not let them think that being white is bad or being black is bad?”

And Penni says the UIR training helped her learn how to talk to other white neighbors about racial dynamics and make better connections with neighbors of color.

“Talk about being an ally; Brettler is the best place to do it,” Penni says. “It is good to talk to my neighbors about white privilege, and let them know there are people out there that know it is real. It is going on and it is not OK – and you are not crazy for thinking it. It is nice to know that I can be an ally to so many people in my community that live just where I live.”

Building bridges at Brettler
Over the summer, Brettler Family Place turned from a location where 51 formerly homeless families live into a true community. Penni says, “This summer was incredible. A lot of families had just moved in, so they were just trying to get on their feet.”

One night, “Everybody was outside and I just said, ‘I really want to play kickball.’ We ended up having a big kickball game. I think the youngest kid playing was three, all the way up to the parents and everybody in between. People were sitting on the sides even if they didn’t want to play. We had wheelbarrow races and jump rope and handstand contests – just fun stuff. And all the moms got together and everybody watched everybody else’s kids.”

From this stable sense of community, Penni has started to rebuild her life and imagine her new future. “Last year during my internship, I learned so much,” she says. “I definitely want to do my second year in WRC, then I want to go back to school. I want to either be a teacher or work with DV [domestic violence] abusers or inmates, and help them go through treatment, and realize, ‘Just because you did these things, you are not a bad person – but what do we need to do to help you not fall back into that pattern?’ ” 

Raised by a single mom in Section 8 housing, Penni’s experience could have been one of succumbing to generational patterns. But a continuum of Solid Ground programs supported her in finding stable housing, establishing a goal plan, and getting employment training, community service and leadership development that will help her family thrive.

For more information, please visit:
Brettler Family Place
Washington Reading Corps

Summertime done come and gone, my oh my

With the autumnal equinox upon us, we bid goodbye to summer 2011.

We remember this as the first summer of Brettler Family Place, where 120 young people and their parents are recovering from transitional phases in their lives, living in a park-like setting along Lake Washington.

These photos are a brief glimpse into how important this location is for these young people. Thanks to the good folks at Sail Sand Point for this fabulous day on the water!

Mohamed gets his balance

Bent gets ready for his first paddle

Marr relaxes on the lake

Chudier, Triniti, Ximena and Chris strike happy poses

Help save Magnuson Community Center!

Kids at summer nature programs (from Seattle.gov website)

While you can probably hear a half a dozen languages bubbling up during workshops at the Magnuson Community Center, what rises above them all is the laughter of neighborhood kids and youth having a great time.

Just down the street from Solid Ground’s Brettler Family Place and Sand Point Family Housing, the Center is a vital part of what brings stability and safety to this community.

But unfortunately, according to Magnuson Children’s Garden Committee Co-Chairs Cindy Hazard and Emily Bishton, the City of Seattle’s 2012 budget process has given the Magnuson Community Center a “2b” rating, which will result in “a drastic cutback of Magnuson Community Center’s open hours and staff time, and will make it impossible for it to offer the kind of great programs and special events that we have all come to love.”

The Center has played an important role in the lives of the families living in Solid Ground’s transitional and permanent housing at Sand Point. Currently almost 200 kids live there, and another 40 or so are expected when new units are built next year.

“The Community Center plays a vital role in helping our families break away from the cycle of homelessness. Kids spending time there are supervised, active and learning about social interactions — they are also meeting other kids from the surrounding neighborhood, and vice versa, which helps them recover from any problems being homeless has caused,” said Tamara Brown, Solid Ground’s Deputy Housing Director.

“It’s so important that we give these kids the same chance that our own kids have had — to participate in team sports, to have fun, to be safe — intervening now can prevent a repeat of cycling back into homelessness like their parents.”

Summer activities like the Center’s Rock the Park “truly helped to change the lives of the kids who attended,” said Joanna Tarr, Children’s Case Manager at Brettler Family Place. “It gave them a feeling of belonging to and pride in the park where they live, and something positive to do with their time. The camp gave them the opportunity to experience many different activities … they were able to bond with each other, form positive relationships, and have the staff as wonderful role models. The kids so looked forward to the camp and often told me how much they enjoyed it and the staff.”

Unless the Center’s rating is restored to at least “2a,” these transformational programs will be cut.

But it is not too late.

You can email or call the City Council Parks Chair Sally Bagshaw at sally.bagshaw@seattle.gov or 206.684.8801, and the Mayor’s office at Mike.Mcginn@seattle.gov or  206.684.4000, to tell them how you feel about Magnuson Community Center. Tell them which of their special events and programs you personally have been touched by. And ask them to restore Magnuson Community Center to at least a “2a” rating to help strengthen our community!

Additional housing coming to Magnuson Park

The Solid Ground Board of Directors voted unanimously last week to move forward with the final phase of housing construction at Magnuson Park/Sand Point. Fifty-four new units are planned. This will bring the total number of housing units for formerly homeless people at the former Navy Base to the 200 outlined in the City of Seattle’s Reuse Plan.

Site plan for Sand Point

We will begin pre-development activities and submit funding applications to the City of Seattle, King County and State of Washington, as well as an application for federal tax-credits. If all goes as planned, we hope to break ground in February 2012 and complete construction in late 2012.

This part of the project will be constructed on two sites, one building which dovetails with the Brettler Family Place footprint and another across the street from Santos Place. The 54 permanent housing units will be for families and singles.

Solid Ground will continue working with the developer, Common Ground, and architect firm, Tonkin Hoyne, who partnered with us on Brettler Family Place.

Brettler Family Place: The finished product!

We’ve recently celebrated the Grand Opening of Brettler Family Place and shared with you photos of the event. But we realized that those shots were primarily of speakers and guests, so we wanted to give you a better view of what the completed Brettler Family Place looks like. The following slideshow gives you the goods. Also, we have been documenting the past year of construction. Can you tell that we are proud of this development?

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While Brettler Family Place ends homelessness for 51 families, we are not quite done with our housing development at Magnuson Park. Stage 2 of this project will include 20 additional housing units for families, as well as 34 units for single men and women, including veterans, seniors and people living with disabilities.

The overall cost of the entire project is in the neighborhood of $30 million. Thanks to many generous people and institutions in our community, we are very close to completing our fundraising. In fact, we have only $515,000 in private funding left to raise! If you would like more information on the project, contact Ali Friedman: alif@solid-ground.org.

Brettler Family Place opening bash!

More than 150 people joined us at the Grand Opening for Brettler Family Place Thursday night! Thanks to Mayor Mike McGinn, Speaker Frank Chopp, Governor Mike Lowry, Dan and Cindy Brettler and others for contributing to the program. Of course, the most moving part of the evening was Joy Sparks’ speech about what living at Brettler Family Place means to her and her family. With about one month of residency, Joy is an “elder” in our new community here, and she speaks with wisdom about the journey she has undertaken and the value of safe, affordable housing. Following is a transcript of Joy’s comments. Before you read, get some tissues ready…

Joy Sparks

I would like to first thank Solid Ground for even considering my journey a success story. That’s validation for me, that I’ve worked hard to get to where I am, and that me and my family are more than deserving to be new residents of this beautiful community.

My daughters and I went through several different stages of homelessness – ranging from couch surfing, sleeping in cars, hotels, shelters and transitional housing. I think one of the reasons I was able to move forward and overcome my biggest barrier, which was homelessness, is because of the overwhelming support that I received from Solid Ground and all the other staff and organizations that embraced me during my time of need!

My caseworker Katie Showalter especially played a big part in keeping me grounded. She found out what my needs were on all levels! She was always there using her words to uplift me and motivate me!

She’d say to me, “Joy you are artistic and beautiful, smart and resilient.” She’d use all these powerful words describing characteristics that she’d seen in me that I hadn’t even seen in myself! Katie doesn’t know this, but whenever our meetings were over, I’d always pull out my dictionary and search for the definition to her words of choice, and I’d always feel so awakened and uplifted by their meaning!

There’s a quote that says, “The greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your riches but to reveal to him his own.” And Katie has demonstrated just that with her words of comfort and encouragement. She was always there with her mirror telling me to look at myself and love the person I see, and that I am worthy.

I’m not sure if you all are fans of Deepak Chopra, but I’d like to share something he wrote about toxic relationships. He talks about the three kinds of people in your life: Those who leave you alone, those who help you, and those who hurt you.

People who leave you alone are dealing with your suffering as a nuisance or inconvenience; they prefer to keep their distance in order to feel better themselves.

Those who hurt you want your situation to be the same because they do not have your wellbeing at heart.

Those who help you have the strength and awareness to do more with your suffering than you are able to do by yourself. He also says having made a realistic count, take the following attitude:

  1. I will no longer bring my problems to anyone who wants to leave me alone. It’s not good for them or me.
  2. I will put a distance between myself and those who want to hurt me.
  3. I will share my problems with those who want to help me. I will not reject genuine offers of assistance out of pride, insecurity or doubt. I will ask people to join me in my healing and make them a bigger part of my life.

Whenever I read this I feel so thankful for the people who’ve played a role in my life and who’ve found ways to help me overcome and move forward.

Creating my vision board was another thing that kept me focused. I made my vision board 1/29/2010; we had only been homeless three weeks. But the very first thing that you’re able to see on my vision board is a magazine clipping that reads “Homeless to Happiness.” That remained my vision and my # 1 goal.

On March 7, 2011 my vision became reality. I went from being homeless to being stable, and secure, which to me is happiness!

Brettler Place to me, means happiness. The beautiful scenery, the view of park, even the green grass and access to the beach have meaning to me. It means family and togetherness! The energy here feels good. There’s a peace of mind here!

I have peace of mind knowing that I don’t have to pack my bags in a few months and I don’t have to transfer my kids to another school again. I don’t have to sleep in a car again or call to put my name on a waiting list for shelter. I don’t have to expose my children to unhealthy living anymore!!!

One more quote before I go: “Everyone needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.” I have that now and it’s all thanks to you, the Brettler Family, Solid Ground, Mercy Housing, Katie Sholwalter and all of you!!! Thank you so very much!!!

Here are additional images from the event:

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While Brettler Family Place ends homelessness for 51 families, we are not quite done with our housing development at Magnuson Park. Stage 2 of this project will include 20 additional housing units for families, as well as 34 units for single men and women, including veterans, seniors and people living with disabilities.

The overall cost of the entire project is in the neighborhood of $30 million. Thanks to many generous people and institutions in our community, we are very close to completing our fundraising. In fact, we have just $515,000 in private funding left to raise! If Joy’s speech moves you to help us close the gap, or if you would like more information on the project, contact Ali Friedman: alif@solid-ground.org.

A fond farewell, a fitting tribute

Talking up the campaign for Brettler Family Place

Today Solid Ground bids a fond farewell to Zanne Garland, our Individual Giving Manager. Zanne has pretty much revolutionized our fundraising approach and our ability to engage individuals, companies and groups in our work. She has more than doubled our Annual Campaign Revenues and helped raise the funds to build Brettler Family Place at Sand Point, which will provide permanent housing for 51 families starting later this Spring.

Those of you who have had the chance to get to know her will agree that Zanne is both a blast to spend time with and a rising star whose brilliance has graced our community for the four years she has been with us. She’ll have a positive impact wherever she goes; for the next few months, that will be traveling the world with her husband, Jackson.

In honor of Zanne’s great work at Solid Ground and in our community, Solid Ground has created the Zanne Garland Fund to support the completion of the Sand Point Housing Capital Campaign. Please consider honoring and carrying forth Zanne’s leadership and service with a gift to this fund. Click here for our Sand Point Capital Campaign donation page, and if you choose to make a gift to the Zanne Garland Fund, please specify that your gift is in honor of Zanne.

 

Brettler Family Place will open in a few weeks, providing permanent housing for 51 families!

 

Transitional housing: a personal success story

Editor’s Note: For many women and children, escaping domestic violence (DV) is a root cause of their homelessness. Solid Ground’s Broadview Shelter and Transitional Housing program serves primarily women and their children who are working to survive domestic violence and rebuild stable lives. The following story was written by a recent resident of Broadview and our Sand Point Family Housing program. While she is not sharing her name in order to protect herself, she is very open about her experience. Her story is direct, honest and moving as it documents the difficult path DV survivors must walk to reclaim their lives. We are honored to be able to share it with you.

In September 2008, my daughter and I went into hiding from my daughter’s father by moving into Solid Ground’s Broadview Shelter. Despite the fact that this shelter was confidential, my ex had searched the neighborhood and found my car parked there. Because of this, the advocates at Broadview relocated us to a shelter in Kent.

Three months went by as my daughter and I resided safely in Kent. I spent every day trying to find some type of transitional housing; our time in the Kent shelter was strictly limited. My income level couldn’t afford us to pay market rent. We gratefully received public assistance and I also received SSI, as I have a disability. On top of that, I did part-time nanny work as much as possible. But with all of these, it was still not enough to pay market rent. My daughter and I don’t have family in the Northwest. I knew that our only viable choice was to find transitional housing. Continue reading

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