Know them.

When stereotype becomes story, everything changes. 

  • Family Promise Of Spokane

The beginning of it was terrifying. You feel like a horrible person having to put our kids through that, it is not fair. It was February, pouring rain and we were cold and soaked when we arrived at Family Promise’s Open Doors Shelter.

If it weren’t for Family Promise, we wouldn’t be alive today. We would’ve gone hungry and cold. We would’ve ended up under a bridge in a tent.

We moved from Open Doors to the Bridges Program where for three weeks we moved from church to church. We would get up early, but we wanted to change the direction of our life.”

After just 22 days of being homeless, we moved into a rental house with a backyard and a fireplace. Michael got a job at Wal-Mart and I am going to school to be a nurse.

Family Promise loved us like their own. They gave us warmth, food, and shelter. It was like a mom and dad helping us out.

I would love to help other people find homes like what we have. I want everyone to feel what we have.

Thank you for all of your support of Family Promise.”

Michael and Hailey Helms

Family Promise of Spokane Graduates

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  • Family Promise Of Spokane

“I knew while earning my degree that I wasn’t meant to work for a big corporation or for-profit company. I wanted to use my skills, talents, and what I was learning to serve a non-profit or a smaller guy, an organization that was doing work on the ground to help others rather than help themselves.”

Hilary works hard to keep Family Promise running behind the scenes.

In the corner of Family Promise’s main office resides Hilary, a smiling face when you walk through the doors. Hilary runs the main office as the Administrative Coordinator. Graduating from Eastern Washington University in 2016, Hilary got her degree in accounting but knew she wanted to work in-depth for a smaller company rather than a big corporation. After graduation, she served as an AmeriCorps VISTA for the Gonzaga University Center for Community Engagement, where she developed and implemented the Zag Volunteer Corps Program (ZVC). It was there that she first came to know about Family Promise. 

“What I really love about Family Promise, and why I was drawn here, is they have a lot of the same values of that program (ZVC), of walking alongside others, meeting people where they’re at, and really seeing others as having infinite worth and being worthy of love. Just because you are experiencing homelessness, doesn’t mean you’re any less than anybody else. You’re just a human and deserve a chance to be happy and successful, like everyone else. I feel very fortunate to work for an organization with these values that allows me to serve my community.” 

“I like to ask people: 'If you were homeless, and scared, and didn’t have anywhere to stay or anyone to turn to, how would you cope with that?' I like to remind them that they don’t know the reasons behind someone experiencing homelessness. It’s not our place to judge a person because of the situation that they’re in. If, as a society, we agree that every person has infinite worth... then our place is to meet people where they’re at and help them to be the best versions of themselves.” 

Hilary doesn't hesitate to provide good care for our kids.

She reminded me of the quote, “We judge others because we judge ourselves.” “I always challenge people to look into themselves and ask, why am I judging this person so harshly?” she said. “You should never judge someone who’s trying to better themselves. Instead, you should be encouraging them along the way.” 

In a closing statement, Hilary said something to me that I think is important for us all to keep in mind, regardless of who we are or what we do: “Making a difference in one person’s life, even if it’s just a small moment, is still making a difference.”

Written by: Grace Wahlman

Date: 7/23/19

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  • Family Promise Of Spokane

“I had twenty thousand dollars in savings. The funeral was twenty-two thousand.” Melinda was a self-proclaimed superwoman: A single mother of Catholic private school kids, she worked two jobs to care for her boys and had single-handedly ran her home of twenty years. Until her mother died. She used her savings of eighteen years to pay for the funeral. And then she got evicted.

“Everybody’s one life event away from being like us. It doesn’t matter where you are on the pay scale, how much money you make, we’re all one life event away from being here,” she said. Melinda's boys wrestle before posing for a picture. Melinda showed me Facebook pictures of her boys growing up: Tackling each other bare chested, sleeping on the couch with their dog, her home buoyant, average, even, like any other family. Tears streamed down her face as she scrolled. “You become numb… If you look at what you lost, you’re not gonna keep going. Cause I tried that route. But you also become very detached, like, the fear of getting another house again and doing all that is hard too, once you’ve lost it. We were just—we’re normal people. Normal people. We had a house, we were just a normal family.” “What’s your opinion when people say ‘just work hard’ to get out of homelessness?” I asked. “I was that person that thought that. I was that person that said to someone, ‘Just get a job.’ I had never been on welfare a day of my life. My kids went to Catholic school, I figured out how to work three homes with a graveyard shift so my kids could have a bed at night… I did it. I’ve learned more about people because I’ve learned to listen. Before I wasn’t listening even though I thought I was. It’s a whole different world. There’s a lot of ways to help people. It’s not just handouts. We forget to be human to people. It becomes all about who has this, who has that, who has the most money. But we forget to treat each other as humans.” It’s not always the usual stories you hear of homelessness. It can be women who were the picture of average American motherhood. “Ninety percent of the people I’ve met along the way have stories like ours,” Melinda said. “That’s not what we’re told. Stories like ours.” Written by: Grace Wahlman Date: 6/25/2019

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