Struggling Families Received the Help They Needed at October’s Family Resource Exchange

By United Way of King County, on December 31, 2019 | In Breaking the Cycle of Poverty

Jackieivy* and her 3-year-old daughter couldn’t have been happier after attending the latest Family Resource Exchange, an event organized by United Way of King County at Seattle Central College in late October.

Jackieivy said she went to the event to get information about housing assistance, so she talked to the service providers at the 2-1-1 table, which gave her referrals for several options. The 2-1-1 service is a free community service provider that connects people to local services. Residents can also call that number and get the information they need, such as utility assistance, food, health and child care, crisis intervention and more.

Jackieivy said she also wanted to get extra food and clothing for her daughter, who also got a mask for Halloween.

“We did lots of shopping,” said Jackieivy, as she and her daughter took a break to have lunch at the free taco bar that was available for guests. She added that it’s important to have the Exchanges for people to get information and clothing, like jackets and shoes.

United Way began organizing Family Resource Exchange events in mid-2018 after encouragement from Starbucks, a key sponsor. Wellspring Family Services, Mary’s Place and other service providers offer assistance to families who are experiencing homelessness or who are at risk of falling into homelessness. Those who attend receive information about housing options, legal services, employment help, clothing, food to replenish their pantries and more.

In the eight Family Resource Exchange events that United Way has organized since June 2018, more than 5,100 people received help, 1,130 households were connected to housing resources and more than 650 families obtained housing or were prevented from falling into homelessness.

“I have no words to explain how happy we are.”


Carlos and Marian* had just been placed into a new home through Mary’s Place and were about to move in, so they went to the Exchange to get some extra items they needed. They were able to get food and clothing, as well as child care resources for their 3-year-old son, who also got a Halloween costume.

Carlos said the family had lost their home a few months earlier after he was laid off. They ended up living in a car for a month-and-a-half, then with friends and family, but those were not permanent solutions for them. The family found temporary help at Mary’s Place Family Diversion Center, a shelter where families can stay on a short-term basis and receive the resources they need to obtain housing within 30 days.

“We got into the Diversion Center and worked on getting our stuff together—finding a job and housing,” said Carlos. “I found a job as a security officer, and now I have the income to make sure we can stay at permanent housing.”

“I have no words to explain how happy we are,” Marian said.

*Last names withheld to protect participants’ privacy.

Family Resource Exchange Events Help Families who are Experiencing Homelessness

The goal of Family Resource Exchanges is to help unsheltered families in King County, including families who are living in vehicles, do not have permanent housing, or those who are at risk of becoming homeless, as well as refugee and immigrant families.

The Exchanges have served 5,078 guests, helped more than 1,100 families connect to housing resources and have assisted over 650 households from falling into homelessness in the eight events United Way of King County has organized since June 2018.

In partnership with Starbucks, a long-time sponsor of Community Resource Exchanges, as well as Mary’s Place, Wellspring Family Services and dozens of other service providers, Family Resource Exchanges attendees get help to find housing or stay in their homes, offer employment opportunities, and they can get legal assistance, child care resources and other services. The Exchanges also feature food banks, free clothing, hygienic kits and more.


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