Success Story: Jenni

Jenni, 26, is a full-time student at Seattle Central College. Her goal: become a social worker.

From her constant smile and upbeat way of talking, you’d never guess she had been homeless for six years.

Trouble at home and trouble with drugs—next came sleeping on the streets.

She was 20, jobless and homeless.

“It felt like a spiral,” she said. “Like a huge mountain I had to climb to get out of what I was involved with.”

Coming to Seattle to live with a friend meant a new start. But when that fell through too, she found support in the Housing and Essential Needs (HEN) program through Catholic Community Services, a United Way grantee agency. United Way partners with HEN to provide rent, utility and transportation help as well as hygiene products to people who’d become homeless without this support.

It’s all part of our work to ensure people have homes. Such a basic need, but not always with a basic solution. Our specific goal? To reduce the number of unsheltered people by 50%.

Jenni’s now in the Dorothy Day House, Catholic Community’s Services’ women’s program. She loves the community there and the encouragement to stick with school. But like any young adult, she can’t wait to live on her own. Working toward her college degree means working toward that independence and self-reliance, she said.

“When you’re in between child and adult, having a dependable support system is key. When I’m a social worker, I’ll be able to bridge that gap for others.”

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