Getting Unstuck on the Path Out of Homelessness

By United Way of King County Posted on March 21, 2019 In Homelessness

Moe exited the dental van, amped up from the anxiety and relief of having her tooth extracted—a cavity she’d dealt with for more than two years.

She was so nervous she could barely stay in the chair.

But there, waiting outside the van, was May. “I came off that van and practically put my arms around her,” Moe said. “I was so relived to see her.”

This is just one scene from their day together at the Community Resource Exchange, United Way’s annual event full of services to help people experiencing homelessness get back on their feet. Other stops included a mammogram, a visit with representatives from the Department of Licensing, new shoes (black and pink trainers from Brooks) and a new Orca card.

And May wasn’t a lifelong friend running these errands with her. She was a Community Resource Exchange volunteer guide. She was there to help Moe navigate the myriad services available,  but there was nearly an instant bond between them.

When you don’t have a proper place to sleep and store your belongings, or access to reliable transportation, these tasks take a lot of time. “All the things I did in the last three hours typically would have taken three months,” Moe said.

And many of those visits led to good news. While checking off another task from her to-do list—apply for a job with a stadium—she learned that Centerplate (T-Mobile Park’s hospitality team), was holding a career fair the next day. Moe planned on being there.

She’s been working—she recently got a part-time job as a dishwasher—so she’s been saving money to take care of things she previously couldn’t pay for. Having not driven for a while, she was ready to retake the tests and pay the additional $150 a month for first-year driver’s insurance. At the Department of Licensing table, she learned that insurance requirement had been waived. That’s money she can use for other things to help her get back on her feet. It took her just minutes to find out, instead of a long but commute and waiting to speak to someone.

“Until three years ago, I was stuck. It’s events like this that make it a lot easier to go outside and do what needs to be done. I am able to eliminate so many roadblocks while I’m here,” she said. “Better shoes so it’s easier to walk. Less pain in my face…Talking to the department of licensing and finding out  I’m in better shape than I was. Finding a job.”

Moe’s been battling homelessness off and on since 2007. Getting her part-time gig restored some faith that she could turn things around. Her productive trip the Community Resource Exchange—and her quick friendship with May—boosted her even more.

“It feels like a big burden has been lifted for me.”

You can help fund more Resource Exchanges to help people like Moe eliminate roadblocks. Donate here.


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