A Day of Hope for Guests and Volunteers at the Community Resource Exchange
United Way’s Community Resource Exchange is like Christmas for 63-year-old Miss Johnson, who slept outside the CenturyLink Event Center the entire night to make sure she was one of the first in line. It’s her third year coming to the event and she knew exactly what she wanted: Shoes for herself, a jacket for her friend in the shelter and visits to the mammogram and DSHS booths at the event. Fiercely independent and resilient, Miss Johnson refused to let volunteers help with her bags or be bogged down by her circumstances. “I’m not a homeless woman. I’m a woman who happens to be experiencing homelessness right now,” she said as she took a break for lasagna, a crowd favorite, in the dining hall.
Resilience and hope was high for Monique Love-Adams as well, a first-time guest at the event who was excited to show off her newly acquired green shoes. Monique found herself without a home eight months ago when her landlord forfeited his mortgage and utility payments and had her evicted. She now lives on the Eastside, alternating between shelters like The Sophia Way and Lakeside Church in Kirkland. Julie Hetcko, an Emerging Leader 365 member from Nordstrom was Monique’s guide for the day and found inspiration and empowerment from the connections she makes here every year. In addition to bringing coworkers along, this year Julie also talked about the event to a man on the street outside her office. She was happy to see him at the front of the line this morning.
The one-to-one connections with people is what brought Erick Arteaga, an Emerging Leader 365 from REI to the event. Erick is part of the Emerging Leaders Connect for Good group where he learned about the issue of homelessness, got his network involved in raising funds towards solutions and got to spend time with people experiencing the issue. Erick spent part of the day distributing t-shirts and hygiene items at the pop-up shop. He then helped a guest who needed a Spanish-speaking volunteer to guide him through the event. Unlike Miss Johnson and Monique, Erick’s guest was not homeless but on the brink of eviction. He had lost his job two months ago and met with several hiring companies like Taco Time, the Space Needle and the Millionaire’s Club at the event. His next rent check is due on March 17. For Erick, his guest reminded him of his dad when he first came to the United States. Being able to give back through Community Resource Exchange was an incredibly powerful experience for him.
Join us to spread hope and make a difference all year round through United Way’s Emerging Leaders and other programs.