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Updated: Jan 25, 2022



Ashley’s Story



Ashley and her husband have five children. Their youngest was only two days old when they moved from Milwaukee to Spokane to find a better life. They were just like any other family. They thought that starting over would provide them with endless opportunities. Instead, it only gave them heartbreak and despair. They knew it would be hard.


They didn’t know it would entail being homeless for three months.


I asked Ashley why she and her husband decided to move from Milwaukee in the first place. She was adamant that it would be a better place. “Wisconsin is very rough, very violent. My sons won’t grow up thinking it’s okay to sell drugs or kill people… robbing and stealing and things like that happen every day. Shootings, every day. I have a daughter… girls down there glorify being prostitutes. I don’t want my daughter to think that that’s an okay thing to do.” When you grow up on the streets, you tend to gravitate back towards it.


Her husband tried out truck driving, but failed the test for backing up. Ashley is hopeful, though. She takes ownership for the choices her family makes with pride. Instead of blaming her circumstances on others, she walks through them with determination.


She said, “People look at me and they always want to know what my situation is, what’s my story, and how did I end up here. This is a choice. And I know it sounds crazy, but it’s a choice and it’s a choice that I made based on a bunch of history and a bunch of decisions that I borrowed… and I don’t want to go back to places that I’ve already been before, doing things that I’ve already done.”


I asked Ashley what she would say to someone who viewed homelessness as a result of laziness or lack of effort. “They’ve never been there,” she said. “Even me and Brandon being raised in the households that we were, we still wind up in situations like this… Don’t judge nobody just because you think… ‘Oh well, she’s sitting there ‘cause she’s waiting on Section 8.’ That’s not true… We didn’t think that we would be homeless for three months. We thought it would be quicker because we both work. We’re not waiting on Section 8. Right now I’m waiting on a call from an apartment to tell me that my apartment is ready, not Section 8.”


She continued, “Brandon takes care of us. And he works really hard. And people don’t understand the barriers that are put upon you when you don’t have a house. I can’t go back to work, because… even if I did find someone to keep my children, I wouldn’t have anywhere for them to keep them because I don’t know anybody. Everybody I’ve met has come from the shelter. They don’t have anywhere to keep my kids.”


Ashley said of the stereotypes around homelessness, “People don’t understand what homelessness is… because they think that homelessness is people that stand on the side of the road. They don’t realize that it’s people that live in the same house as somebody else.”


This was something that was also hard for Ashley to explain to her five children: “My kids didn’t realize we were homeless, I had to say that to them. ‘We are homeless. We live with your nana on her couch.’ They’re like, ‘No we’re not? We live here with Nana.’ They don’t know. They don’t get it. So I have to say that, and they’re looking at me like, ‘We can’t possibly be homeless. This is our nana’s house.’ But they didn’t understand. I had to tell them that, that this is not our house. You can’t come into other people’s house and take it as your own, you know, you can’t go slammin’ doors. My mama would break your hand, slammin’ doors,” she laughed. The concept of homelessness is so hard to explain to so many kids. Oftentimes they just don't understand that just because they are staying at someone's house does not mean they aren't homeless.


I asked Ashley how homelessness has changed her views on life: “I know that everybody has a story. Just because it doesn’t match with your story doesn’t mean it makes them a bad person. You don’t know what made that person.” No matter who we are, no matter what our background is, we can all end up on the street. It's not a choice or state of mind. For the vast majority, it's just a reality.




While I was interviewing her, she received an email that her family got approved for an apartment through Catholic Charities. She cried tears of joy and immediately began to pack her family’s things from the Family Promise emergency shelter. Ashley’s story is one of hope and delight in the midst of a dark season. Hers is a story of sadness and loss, but also of perseverance and acceptance. The tears she cried were tears of joy because she is home at last. “Home at last, home at last. Thank God I am home at last.”





Ashley and her family moved into their own permanent housing in 2019, and have never looked back.



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Walking into Chuck and Charlise's new home, you are met with a large “Bless our Nest” sign and an abundance of house plants brightening the room. “It's the little things,” Charlise says, “We could never have plants before, anything that required a permanent place.” Now their home is filled with plants and sunshine, a sign they have found that permanence that they so faithfully worked for.

Before Family Promise, Chuck and Charlise were bouncing from motel room to motel room, spending over 50% of Chuck’s full-time income, doing everything they could for their daughter Sophie to have a safe place to sleep at night. This came at as a cost though, as money spent on motel rooms meant less money available for other necessities.




“We didn’t have enough for anything else… it’s a vicious cycle. The further you get in, the harder it is to get out.”


This vicious cycle of poverty and survival is familiar to families that come through Family Promise. Often exhausting all other resources and not having an emotional or relationship safety net, families face homelessness.


Charlise describes the stigma that comes from experiencing homeless as brutal. “People think we are all lazy bums. Many of us are paycheck to paycheck, hardworking, normal people who run into problems and need a little bit of help getting out of it.”


After much searching, this little family found a safe place to land at Family Promise. Because they no longer had motel bills stacking up, they were finally able to save money and create time to find permanent housing. “Being at Family Promise allowed us to save for stable housing.’ And there’s joy in their newly found home: “Our living room is now bigger than the size of the space we were living in in our hotel room.”


On average, 70% of the families served in the shelter program secure housing within 8 weeks. Because of the depth of services and community support, families stay housed, and Family Promise of Spokane provides both prevention and stabilization services to increase our long-term impact.

After Sophie runs to her mother with a warm hug and a picture she drew, Charlise says, “I want consistency for her. I can now concentrate on things like that for her, while in the shelter I could only think of the next 15-20 minutes to get through the day. Now I can dream.”


Your monthly gift of just $24.50 makes dreams - just like Chalise’s - come true.


“The encouragement we received from Family Promise made the difference.”


Give now at www.familypromiseofspokane.org/donate


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Updated: Oct 29, 2021

Rebekah will never forget her and her young daughter’s first day of homelessness. “I felt truly alone for the first time. Homelessness was a world that I was aware of, but never thought I’d be a part of. I always thought I’d be able to find someone to help me...but that wasn’t the case.”


Rebekah had been trying to avoid homelessness for months, but after so many rejections and dead ends, she realized how powerless she felt in providing for her young daughter, Ayla. She was ready to give up. She “nestled Ayla into bed at a friend’s house, took a walk, found a gallon of vodka and then, a bridge.” That night, in the middle of June, overwhelmed by deep shame, hopelessness and defeat, she planned to jump off the Arthur Street bridge and die.


Thankfully, while standing there on the edge of her tipping point, Rebekah came to the conclusion that “as useless and worthless as I felt, I realized that I didn’t want to put that on my children.” She stepped away from the edge and checked herself into intensive treatment. Once she was stabilized, the treatment staff dropped Rebekah and Ayla off on the front steps of Family Promise of Spokane. Vulnerable and afraid, but ready to make a change, Rebekah grabbed her daughter’s hand and walked into her first day.


Because of the COVID-19 crisis, parents who are living paycheck-to-paycheck or couch-to-couch now find themselves facing a tipping point just like Rebekah. The stress, isolation and hopelessness is becoming overwhelming. Without intervention, many already vulnerable families will tip over into the destructive cycle of homelessness where they end up hidden, sleeping in cars, garages, tents, backyards or “nestled into bed at a friend’s house.” Last year alone, just in Spokane County, more than 3,000 children experienced homelessness in this way - children just like Rebekah’s daughter, Ayla. They need your help, now more than ever.


You can provide one day of services at Family Promise of Spokane for just $24.50… and, when that day is the first day for someone like Rebekah, it changes the trajectory of a family’s entire life. “I was able to breathe easier. That first day let my family be all together at once. I was able to feel shiny and new. I felt at peace for the first time in a very long time. I could let my guard down and relax. I felt safe and not only physically, but emotionally.. I got to leave my past behind and step into something new.”


$24.50 provides everything needed for a family to have a hope-filled first day: food, shelter, compassionate mentoring and a safe place to sleep at night. By making a monthly gift of $24.50, you provide stability, empowerment and healing for a vulnerable child, mom or dad through Family Promise of Spokane. And, because it typically takes only 34 days of care before a family moves into their new home, you’ll be a part of providing a “first day” to a new family every month and 12 families a year!


Today, when we’re being told to “stay at home,” you can commit to being there for families without a home. Right now, you have the power to change the future for a family just like Rebekah and Ayla’s.


Rebekah herself says that if she had not experienced that peace on her first day at Family Promise, her family would likely be living in their car, teetering on the edge of another crisis. Instead, Rebekah says, “They empowered me. I would not be making changes in myself and in my family and in the world around me if it weren’t for Family Promise.”


Be a part of changing someone’s first day. When you become a monthly partner, you help end the cycle of homelessness for kids, moms and dads in Spokane. Together, we can offer the hope-filled first day that each and every family needs.


Where are they now? Rebekah and her family recently moved into their new home. Today, she is employed and reunited with her husband, Randall. And her story has come full circle: “My new home is only a few blocks from the bridge I was going to jump from and a few blocks from the front steps of Family Promise. This is my Bermuda Triangle, but instead of being lost, by God’s amazing grace, I’m found.”


Consider a financial gift today at https://secure.qgiv.com/for/5mc/

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