“When I first came in, I think Brenda used the work self-sufficiency about 12 times!” Vivia says.
Vivia quickly showed a high level of responsibility and was asked to be a house assistant, who is responsible for helping House Manager Brenda with intakes, donations, and other duties.
“It was a huge learning experience for me,” Vivia says. “Because I was HA, I feel like I took so much more away from the program. I was able to help the house run smoothly and to connect with people on a personal level. Brenda was great at teaching me how to have boundaries, but also compassion. I learned that everyone has their own story and comes from their own walk of life.”
While serving as house assistant, Vivia was also persistent in looking at houses, and was finally successful at finding one. Several weeks ago, she, Robert and another couple moved into the new home.
“There are great resources here,” Vivia says. “Working through the Friendship House program got me exactly what I wanted. If you really make it your own, it will make a difference!”
At Friendship House, one of our primary goals is self-sufficiency. We want each of our residents to be able to make an income to stand on their own two feet. But it doesn't stop there. Our hope is that once our former residents become self-sufficient, they begin to flourish.
That is Audrea’s story. She is currently in the Human Services Program at Skagit Valley College and for the past several months, has been serving as the Friendship House Intern. She works directly with the Women’s House Manager Brenda and has completed several projects that benefit our residents.
New residents are often overwhelmed by the services available to them, so Audrea created a guide with concise, simple descriptions of all the services in Skagit County and how to best utilize them. She also created a map that was extremely helpful for residents trying to get from one place to the next.
Audrea began teaching a budget mentoring class for our residents based on the one she took at LOVE, Inc. Each week, she meets with residents to go over topics like making a budget, living within your means, and banking basics. The class teaches invaluable lessons to our residents.
Audrea will graduate from Skagit Valley College in 2015. After that, she plans to attend Trinity Western University’s Bellingham Extension to get her BA in Leadership. She is an excellent candidate for that program, having shown the staff of Friendship House how capable she is. We believe Audrea will continue to accomplish great things!
Audrea is the embodiment of transformation, showing that it is possible to move beyond a difficult past to a flourishing future.
Friendship House changes lives. I know this from personal experience.
My story is probably pretty typical for a lot of people. I was raised in a bad environment with abuse and a lot of sadness. When I left home at an early age, I was totally unprepared for the world I was entering.
Many years passed. Two marriages dissolved. Mom died the year after Dad did. I moved from Skagit County to Portland, Oregon, to be with “the love of my life.” When he left me a year later, I was devastated. I went back to bartending and heavy drinking. My drug issues resurfaced while in Portland.
I ended up homeless. I lived under bridges and on the streets of Portland, doing drugs for two years before moving back to Skagit County. When I arrived in Mount Vernon, I was told that Friendship House was a good place to stay, so I went there to find shelter. What I found was a lot more than shelter. I found help and a home. I found love and acceptance. I found myself and salvation.
Friendship House helped me recover so that I could heal. I found a job with Skagit Publishing, and Friendship House made sure that I had clothing appropriate for work and food for lunch. I moved up in the company and eventually became the Circulation Manager. I am more successful than I have ever been in my life and I owe that to Friendship House and Skagit Publishing.
Friendship House saved my life seven years ago. I am immensely grateful for its existence.
Hunger to Hope launched last week, and we are so happy to have Jade, Fancy, Chris, Gabe and Brenda on board! We kicked off the brand new worker training program by getting Food Handler’s Permits. Our participants are officially ready to go!Hunger to Hope is a 12 week program. Participants will spend most of the week in the kitchen, prepping, cooking and serving meals in the Friendship House Café. They’ll be learning various techniques and cooking skills from our Kitchen Manager, Tom Hoffman, who brings nearly 25 years of experience in the food service industry.
Once a week, the group will meet with Blake Westhoff, our Program Coordinator, to take Life Skills and job prep classes. They’ll learn important work ready skills like responsibility, prompt attendance, and effective communication. They’ll also gain interview and resume writing skills to assist in their job search.
At the end of the program, our participants should be prepared to succeed in the food service industry. Our overall goal is to provide homeless men and women with the self-esteem, employable skills, and supportive resources necessary to enter the job market and to lead healthy, fulfilling lives.
When Felisa first came to Friendship House, she was immediately struck by the idea that it seemed like a real home, a safe place for her to get back on her feet. She says, “I got to meet a lot of people going through the same thing I was, so I didn’t feel so alone.”
Felisa was homeless because of her struggles with drug addiction. She had tried treatment, but was unsuccessful the first time. “I’m not a stupid person,” she thought. “How did I get myself in this place?”
But being at Friendship House was different. Felisa says that Friendship House was the first place that treated her like a real person. She enjoyed the camaraderie, but also benefited from the daily schedule of chores, meals, and job searches. She quickly showed an aptitude for leadership, and was asked to be a House Assistant, a role with lots of responsibility. She found it amazing that Brenda, the Women’s House Manager, believed she could do it. “No one had trusted me in a long time,” she says. “Brenda did.”
Since arriving, Felisa has been clean and sober and has started taking classes at Skagit Valley College. It’s been 25 years since she’s had any schooling, but she is excelling in her courses. Felisa moved into our transitional housing program several weeks ago and is poised for success. The staff is proud of her initiative to return to school and is thankful for all her hard work at Friendship House.
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