Emerging Leaders build hope and community
Guest blogger Jordan McKerney is a marketing communications professional and a volunteer with the United Way Emerging Leaders committee, where she focuses on planning and promoting volunteer opportunities.
Do you remember getting the keys to your first apartment? For many of us, that first apartment represented independence. Comfort. Security. But imagine walking into a fresh, clean space that is all your own… after experiencing chronic homelessness. That apartment likely means something even more significant.
Recently, Emerging Leaders came together to spend the afternoon with residents of the Pat Williams Apartments, a beautiful building in South Lake Union that provides supportive living for 81 formerly homeless adults who are pursuing a journey out of addiction. The Pat Williams Apartments is one of 13 residential buildings operated by Plymouth Housing Group, an organization that is transforming the lives of more than 1,000 formerly homeless people in Seattle through a “housing first” philosophy. Once a person has a safe home, finding solutions to other needs – such as sobriety, a job and community support – becomes easier.
Our group of Emerging Leaders had the chance to help build community at Pat Williams in one of the simplest ways you can imagine: playing games on a sunny Saturday. In the apartment building common room, we pulled out the Pictionary board and the residents were quick to join in on the fun.
The afternoon was a great reminder of how easy it can be to find common ground with people of very different backgrounds. We all want respect and engagement from those around us – and we’re all terrible at drawing clues like “pretzel” in less than a minute (seriously, give it a try!).
As we played, we had a chance to learn about the lives of several residents. Some talked about their past struggles and the turning points that helped them decide to seek recovery and sobriety. Some talked about their families and the jobs they have had. But all of them talked about their relationships with one another – who had moved into the building around the same time, who was neighbors with whom, their plans for the rest of the day, and on and on.
It was very clear how important their relationships and sense of community are to their quality of life – lives that they are working very hard to rebuild with the support of organizations like Plymouth Housing Group and United Way. Our group of Emerging Leaders felt very fortunate to be a part of that process.
Learn more about the Emerging Leaders program and upcoming volunteer opportunities.