StoryCorps has been visiting the Pacific Northwest this summer for a project called “Finding Our Way.” In partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Seattle University, and local homeless services providers, this project will record important conversations surrounding family homelessness.

On our first trip, we visited Catholic Community Services, based in Washington’s Pierce County, and recorded stories with mothers, fathers, sons, and daughters as well as staff and volunteers.

We Are StoryCorps welcomes our guest writer of the week, Michelle Bova. Michelle works in our Custom Services department and has a firsthand view of how this amazing project has taken shape.

Finding Our Way in Seattle, WA

Participants in Tacoma, WA.

Participants in Tacoma, WA.

It’s hard for any of us to take the time to stop and reflect. It’s harder still to find that time if you’re struggling to keep your family safe. When we arrived at the CCS Family Center in Tacoma, Washington, we hoped that families who had been through such struggles would find value in taking time to share their stories with us.

The stories we heard were at times painful, and at others uplifting, but always moving and sincere.

One participant told us about when she left her home–and an abusive relationship–with just $4. Another told us about how his faith helped him through an extended period of living in his car.

We heard from parents who discussed what kept their families strong, even through periods when they couldn’t provide a home for their children. “A participant came with his wife and daughter. As a family, they laughed and cried together,” said Luis Gallo, who facilitated the interviews alongside Anna Berlanga.

Tanya Mettlen and one of the many people who have regained their strength alongside staff at CCS.

Tanya Mettlen of CCS and one of the many people who have regained their strength alongside staff.

Tanya Mettlen, a CCS employee who conducted a number of the interviews with the members of the community they serve, remarked on the pride the women felt in their accomplishments, especially those who have successfully gotten their own apartments for themselves and their families. “They are still going through it, they’re not done,” said Mettlen.

Fully inspired by these inspirational individuals and their stories, we are excited to return to Western Washington in late July and August to record more interviews at YWCA locations in Lynnwood and Seattle.

Michelle

We’re actively recruiting participants who may have directly experienced homelessness with their family, either recently or in the past, or who have connected with homeless families through their work or volunteerism.

Recording Locations and Dates

August 11-14: YWCA Opportunity Place 2024 3rd Avenue Seattle, WA

August 15: YWCA Greenbridge Center 9720 8th Ave. SW Seattle, WA

If you have a story to tell or if you know someone who you would like to interview:

  • To make an appointment directly in Lynnwood or Seattle, WA, contact Denise Miller at 206.461.4464 dmiller@ywcaworks.org or Michelle Bova at 646-723-7020 x12 mbova@storycorps.org.
  • Ask questions or tell us more at findingourway@storycorps.org.
Preparing to tell the story of families in Tacoma, WA.

Preparing to tell the story of families in Tacoma, WA.

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