I’m a lifelong Puget Sound resident. I love this place! As a kid I went to Salty Sea Days, caught 99 cent double features at Everett Theater, jigged for herring off the docks of Marine View, poured over Archie comics at the Everett Comic Book store, and ferried to Hat Island numerous times a year.

I was only 5 months old and my brother was almost two when our father left. Despite the financial hardship we embarked upon my mom made sure we had a roof over our heads, food at the table, and she always had a job. Like many kids, I had no real concept of what it took to be an adult. As a kid we moved 10 times in 10 years, so when I bought a house in 2005 I made a vow to stay put. My husband and I raised our kids there for 12 years. Being locally employed allowed for more involvement in our community, volunteering with Girl Scouts over the 12 years, helping out at various soup kitchens in town, was an advocate for cleaning up the streets, and with the help of the Parks Department was Co-founder of the first ever Park Watch of Snohomish County.

At the end of 2016 our children had entered middle school and high school when the knock came upon our door. Our youngest opened the only door she’d ever known and was informed the strangers on the front porch were the new owners. As I rush to the door, I hear her ask, stunned, “We sold our home?”

Over the last couple years I’d been trying to save our home from foreclosure. My loan kept getting sold and it got confusing and overwhelming sorting all the paperwork. In just a month prior to the sale I had met with foreclosure attorney in King County and made it to the steps of Snohomish County Courthouse to stop the foreclosure. However, I overlooked one of the steps to save our home and one month later it had sold. I was devastated and humiliated. Scrambling, we found a place to go and the week before we were to move in the owner changed their mind. Now we have nowhere to go. We were able to send one child to a relative in Lake Stevens and one child to a friends in Kirkland. My husband and I took refuge in a makeshift storage unit in the backyard of some friends and that lasted a week or so. The next year was a blur. We stayed in random places and it was so depressing being away from our children. I was unable to really be there for them like I wanted and the experience has forever changed each of us. Because of all that went on with splitting the family up, their parents sleeping in parks, changing schools, the hundreds of questions with seemingly no answers, both children, within a couple months of each other, went to Children’s Hospital for suicide watch.

Times were dark and depressing. Gone were the days of feeling carefree. I was applying for housing from Bellingham to North Dakota for months. A year went by. I feel the despair creeping in as I write this today, now years later. I was working with WorkSource as much as I could. With no shelter, no car, no phone, no job, and barely any time with my family, I was determined to turn it all around, just didn’t know how. I was working with the family resource Center in Arlington and Lake Stevens when I was informed that housing was available with Housing Hope. A handful of months later we were ALL moving into our own apartment together! Our property manager, Judy, was the strict change we needed. There were struggles to overcome with visitors, curfew, weekly meetings and check-ins. With the persistence of our case worker, Amrita, and the care she took in finding a solution, I was introduced to Alex and Kim at HopeWorks. I felt encouraged towards finding a job and knew I was in a healthy environment with people that wanted to see me and my family succeed. In July of 2019 I was told about an internship available through GroundWorks, and though I had never done landscaping and was terrified of spiders, I felt excited about this new opportunity. When I showed up the first day I was intimidated to see I was the only female. What I lacked in strength I made up for in determination. With the guidance of Jim Gabriel, Eric, and the other GroundWorkers I was able to learn about landscaping, proper usage of hand tools, and how to work together to achieve goals. I felt my world shift. I had a support team at HousingHope checking in with me, offering solutions, encouraging me and giving me the life-changing opportunity of becoming a landscaper. When the internship ended I was offered a full-time seasonal position and was told I was the first woman in the 6 years of existence to be offered such. When the seasonal work ended I knew my path was paved. I was so impressed with myself. I was punctual and hadn’t missed a single day of work. I rode my bike nearly every day, rain or shine, 10 miles round trip. I felt different. The depression faded away and was replaced with empowerment and a sense of community that I hadn’t felt for years. I told everyone about HousingHope. I had a wrap around support system that didn’t forget about me. Kim at HopeWorks helped me get into EvCC setting me up with financial aid and getting me in touch with people at the school to continue my success. I was looking for a job when Covid hit. And though life was uncertain I was certain landscaping was for me. In June of 2020 I was hired by Rainbow Gardening and Landscaping and haven’t looked back since. I thank HousingHope, HopeWorks, and GroundWorks for helping me through the dark times, for showing me the power within, and for providing the tools needed mentally and physically to succeed. My kids look up to me and I have more self-respect and a positive outlook in life. To say thank you is an understatement. I hope my story inspires others to ask for help, to listen to advice from our case workers, and to believe in themselves!

Photo of a woman in a red vest, with hands in pockets, smiling at the camera in a forest environment.
Photo of a woman wearing protective eye and ear gear, kneeling over with a plank of wood, in a driveway of a house.
Photo of a woman in a red vest, with hand on her hip, standing in front of a trail at a waterfront.