Thanks to Facing Homelessness for introducing us to Steve and for use of their photo.
Steve had been in and out of shelters for years. “In” meaning he had strategized ways daily to get his name on the lists early so he could have a bed that night. “Out” meaning he knew the dreary, soggy Seattle winters better than anyone.
Through some solid case management and referrals, Steve got a permanent apartment of his own. The jingling of his new keys was a sound that made him grin ear-to-ear.
What Steve didn’t realize was that he’d established quite a fan base through Facing Homelessness, who had been sharing his story. The first thing he did at his new apartment was check his mail.
I thought, hey, maybe there’s something, maybe there’s not. It was just having a mailbox at all.
What he found was a mailbox jammed full of letters.
Thinking the previous tenant had forgotten to change addresses, Steve headed to the lobby desk to let building staff know of the mix-up. Staff told him the addresses were all correct. He headed back to his box to prove them all wrong, but on examining some of the envelopes, his jaw dropped in shock. They were all addressed to him, at his new home, at his new start, from family, friends-and even strangers-to congratulate him. Thanks to Facing Homelessness for sharing this story with us.
Steve’s story is one of thousands made possible by caring people partnering with United Way to end homelessness. If people do fall into crisis and find themselves without a home, we’re making sure that it’s rare, brief and one-time:
- Rare. We invest in prevention—stepping in before people become homeless by supporting rent and utility assistance programs.
- Brief and one-time. We support shelters and housing with on-site counseling and health care services, plus connections to skills training and work opportunities, to make the housing situation truly permanent.
Of course it’s the simple kindnesses like filling someone’s new mailbox with letters that can make a house feel like a home. Ideas for other things that could welcome someone back after a long time away?