Open letter from a Snoqualmie Valley Winter Shelter guest

The Snoqualmie Valley Winter Shelter has made a huge positive impact on the welfare of my family this season. I’m a first-time, single mother of a very busy, smart, and loving 2-year-old boy and we have been homeless for almost a year now.

Before the shelter opened its doors in mid-November, we were mainly sleeping in my packed car, occasionally couch surfing with friends and family, and I even sold my personal items a few times so we could stay at a local motel. I felt like winter was coming fast and I was running out of options.

The shelter staff has really reached out and worked extremely hard to provide my son and me with as much normalcy and security as possible.

We have been able to take showers at the day center’s mobile shower trailer and [staff] makes sure to offer us shower passes to the local pool. They provide us with lots of fresh food and a full kitchen where I can cook for my son, and there is a land line phone and computer with Internet so I can easily connect to services. We can also rest, play games, and watch movies during day center hours which is very helpful on days my son doesn’t have child care.

[A staff member] has given up her personal time to come to work an hour early some days, specifically for my son and I to use the center to meet with a specialist.

Hygiene supplies are a huge daily necessity that can get ridiculously expensive, especially for a small child, and they’re a bit harder to get at the local food banks. Winter shelter staff always make sure my son and I have what we need to keep good morale, by having gently used clothes, new undergarments, toiletries, hygiene supplies, and diapers/baby wipes, etc. accessible to us at both the day center and night shelter. If there is something specific we need or want, they always try hard to get it for us. The staff here always seem pleased to be able to provide us with the items that we need. My son and I are extremely lucky to have people who are constantly caring about our health and well-being.

[A staff member] has personally compiled several services to help us, based on our needs as a family. She has even made it possible for me to connect with these resources here on site, almost on a weekly basis. I have received one-on-one help with social services, mental health, jobs/careers/school, and housing by being able to connect with caseworkers from DSHS, YWCA, Work Source, and Catholic Community Services. This is an amazing opportunity that I’m so thankful for because it is often difficult to get to some of the more helpful resources when you’re stuck out here in the Snoqualmie Valley with limited transportation. However, I have been offered bus passes for the local shuttle bus when my car wasn’t running, as well as KC Metro tickets if my son or I needed to go to an appointment out of town.

The resources seem to be almost limitless and beyond just helpful. Back in November, I was having some problems with the heat going out in my car and staff expressed their worry about my son and I freezing in my car in the 20-degree weather and not being able to safely see through foggy windows while driving. They found a resource for me at a local church. I was able to contact the “angel” and meet with her personally. She then provided the means to purchase the part I needed and another resident at the shelter helped me replace it. I was so grateful!

The shelter was extremely gracious this past December by helping to make our Christmas holiday bright and merry. Staff provided an open day center over the holiday weekend and volunteers brought in huge delicious meals. My son and I were showered in donated gifts.

We were so excited to receive such nice things, as brand-new winter coats, shoes and boots, warm clothes, toys and games. This made us feel very special and loved by people out there who truly cared about making our hearts so happy during the holiday season. Without all of the hard work that staff put in to make sure this happened, we might not have had such a joyous Christmas.

My son and I are very blessed to have a safe warm place to lay our heads and get some rest at night, hot meals twice a day and sometimes a sack lunch, and to be surrounded by people who honestly care about us and how we are doing every day. Every evening as we enter the night shelter, my son and I are greeted and welcomed by [the manager] and his wonderful smile. He’s smart, he has already set out toys for my boy and got a movie going to make the transition to bed go smoothly for us. I pack all of our bedtime things into the church and in passing the staff or volunteers will ask if I need help, smile and ask how our day was, and remind me that things will get better for us. They are sure of it. This makes the entire day better, no matter what happened before we came through that door. This is exactly why we are here and why we have chosen to stay.

The Snoqualmie Valley Winter Shelter is truly helping us get to where we want to be in life; successful, knowledgeable, happy, healthy, and able to give back to our little community in the future. Without every single individual staff member, eager volunteer, and helpful resource, none of this would be possible. The people of the shelter program as a whole are so understanding of our situation, empathetic to our feelings, personable with communication, caring about our needs, and always patient with us. Even though this is only a temporary situation for my son and I, we will keep these allies and bridges we have built here for future reference, most certainly, because we are just forever thankful for their support. During our entire stay here, staff have treated us like normal people, just trying to live life, no different. Actually, maybe with just a bit more TLC because we definitely need it and they are delighted to give it.

Thanks for your time.

Sincerely, JB