A New Start for Noelle

Noelle arrived at Hospitality House having never experienced homelessness before. A loving grandmother, she was staying with her daughter and a grandchild for several months at a discounted rental rate for providing childcare. All was well until her daughter’s partner moved in and the situation turned toxic. Due to her living situation becoming increasingly volatile, Noelle called Hospitality House to seek shelter. Noelle was a self-described people pleaser, though, and with a little convincing from her daughter, Noelle decided to turn down a bed with Hospitality House when it was offered.

Months later, Noelle called again. She knew that enough was enough and that she needed to stand up for herself and do what would move her forward. She moved into Hospitality House ready to receive the help she deserved. During her time here, Noelle met with our Case Manager to determine goals, receive advice, and discuss next steps. She had been on several housing lists for a few years, but nothing had come up quite yet. With Connie’s case management assistance, Noelle was able to get her Social Security benefits increased and develop a better sense of what type of housing was available to her.

Her dream home is in West Seattle, within walking distance to a few grocery stores, and near the schools her grandchildren attend. She would love to be close enough for them to visit for lunch! While the perfect housing opportunity did not come up during her stay at Hospitality House, another one did. A former contact offered her free rent for an apartment in Seattle through January in exchange for performing cleaning services. With a Seattle address, Noelle’s housing prospects grew. A requirement of Seattle Senior Housing is that the potential resident must currently reside in Seattle. Prematurely exiting from Hospitality House wasn’t an easy choice but Noelle knew it was a step in the right direction for longer term housing options, and a bright future.

Defeating Stigmas-Alexandra’s Story

“I never thought I’d be the person sitting with my stuff on the park bench being stared at.”

That’s what our client, Alexandra, told staff days into her stay at Hospitality House. She said that when someone approached her in a local park and asked what business she had there, Alexandra didn’t even know they were speaking to her because she didn’t “look” homeless with only a backpack and a few essentials.

Following separation from her partner and attempting to pay off debt, Alexandra found herself experiencing homelessness for the first time. Alexandra explained to staff that after her experience in the park, she realized that she was holding onto stigmas surrounding homelessness.

Many people have an idea of what homelessness can look like. There’re actually quite a few options around for a “drunk beggar,” “hobo,” or “bum man/woman” Halloween costume, which just reinforce the idea that you can identify who is experiencing homelessness by looking at them. If you saw one of our clients outside of Hospitality House, you’d never know they were experiencing homelessness. They have jobs as a desk worker at a hotel, an intern at a holistic wellness center, a nanny. They wear name brand clothes and own cars. Alexandra was enrolled in college classes during her entire time at Hospitality House, had a gym membership, and participated in a work study program through school-not exactly fitting the idea of a “bum woman” Halloween costume.

Alexandra stayed at Hospitality House until she found a two-year transitional housing program that has a special focus on students and women re-entering the workforce. Before leaving HH, Alexandra said her time here reshaped her understanding of homelessness and those who are working through it. Homelessness doesn’t have a certain look, and it doesn’t care what you’ve accomplished in life, or what you’re working toward-it can affect anyone, at any age, at any time. Hospitality House is here to meet residents like Alexandra where they are and help them find their footing and prepare them to thrive!

Penny’s Optimism

Penny was a resident who really had just come across hard circumstances. She graduated with her associates in human services just two days before coming to Hospitality House. Penny also worked full-time. Her longer-term housing had fallen through when she was moving from one lease to another, which put her in a tough financial spot. She was a few thousand dollars in debt due to a landlord insisting she had to pay the remainder of a lease, so she came to Hospitality House.

Penny was an all-star resident. She was completely reliable when it came to contributing to her share of house chores, worked 5 days a week, and would babysit for a family member on the days she wasn’t working. Despite her living situation and how busy she was, Penny remained quite optimistic. She had been homeless before and she remained confident that this time, it would also be temporary. Sure enough, things started looking up for her. Two weeks into her stay at Hospitality House, Penny received the happy news that she did not have to pay off the remainder of the lease as she had been told previously. It would save her thousands! Only a short time after this, she disclosed her situation to a trusted coworker. This coworker was also struggling with finances due to high gas prices and rent, so the two decided they would help each other. Penny was offered a place to stay with her friend, and the two could carpool to work together to save on gas money.

Penny was not one to settle. She still had her own place in mind, and she knew that staying with a friend could only be temporary. Only two months after her arrival at Hospitality House, Penny stopped in to say hello and share that she had a studio apartment close to work lined up! She expressed how grateful she was that Hospitality House was able to provide her with a period of rest while she figured some things out. Penny is doing even better than before, planning to work toward a bachelor’s degree, and continuing optimistically on her journey.

Grace’s Perseverance

Many of our volunteers got to know Grace as a joyful spirit in the house. She came to us in January after patiently waiting for a bed through half of December. Her sense of humor, willingness to lend an empathetic ear, and desire to help lift up her fellow residents pulled people to her like a moth to a flame.

Grace quickly got to work. She arrived at Hospitality House with a Section 8 voucher and was eager to find a place to call home, work on her relationships with her kids, and start a new phase in life. She was happy to support her fellow residents, sharing resources and phone numbers for potential housing leads. Every time someone got some good news, she was right there to celebrate with them!

Almost two months after Grace’s arrival, Grace took a step back from her search. She saw her fellow residents moving on and questioned why she was feeling like her hard work wasn’t getting her anywhere. Every time she toured an apartment she loved, they would call her back and say someone else snagged it before she did. There was always more paperwork, more phone calls, and more roadblocks. Still, she was hopeful that her time would come.

Finally, Grace caught a break! A week after she decided to step back from the process, she got a call that she was approved for an apartment, and she could move in within days! She immediately began jumping around, singing, and waving her arms. You could see the faces of everyone in the room light up. She persisted through so many hardships, and now Grace is comfortable and thriving in her own apartment.

Casey’s Commitment

Casey came to Hospitality House after a room rental with friends didn’t work out the way they planned. She came in and hit the ground running, with set plans for her future. Almost immediately after arriving, Casey was hired on for part time work. She had many goals in mind-how much she wanted to save, when she wanted to begin taking classes, where she wanted to live. Her hard work led almost immediately to her employer offering her full-time hours, then overtime. Casey took on as much as she could without overwhelming herself.

She began to take advantage of benefits her work offered as soon as she could to accomplish things she hadn’t been able to do previously due to homelessness, like getting some overdue dental work taken care of. Her appointments for physical health, mental health, and housing would all happen whenever she wasn’t working, which wasn’t often. Sometimes staff would go what felt like days without seeing her. Without fail, though, Casey would meet with staff for updates, attend the house meeting, and complete house chores. She was often (lovingly) compared to a very friendly, helpful, household ghost!

Near the time when she would be expected to leave Hospitality House, Casey had to have emergency surgery. She worked with staff the entire time, expressing concern over having to be off work so suddenly. Thankfully, her work allowed her to take time off to heal, and we were able to extend her time to aid in her recovery. She didn’t stop doing what she could and would still spend hours each day looking for housing, studying a new language, or prepping for college classes online. Eventually she decided she was in a good place to buy a vehicle, which would drastically cut down on her commute time to work. Once she got the okay to return to work from her doctors, her employer made allowances so as not to push her recovery too hard. After some time back on her feet, Casey was able to save enough to feel confident in moving out. She got even more serious about her search and found a room rental which would make her commute to work even easier. She left Hospitality House with a solid new foundation, and we expect that we’ll see great things from her in the future.

Nina’s Success!

Nina came to Hospitality House in early March. She previously lived with her mother a few hours away from Seattle, but after a conflict, Nina ended up in the hospital and without a home to return to.

The hospital social workers and a case manager helped Nina find a place for her here at Hospitality House. She arrived with only her laptop and the clothes she was wearing. Aside from having a bed to sleep in, she was most excited to have internet access so she could work on a coding program.

Nina acted as a source of peace in the house. She began looking at apartments immediately after her arrival, and spent time daily working to meet her education, mental health, and housing goals. Every morning she would make her bed, have some breakfast, and set up in the living room. A chair by the door to the room became “reserved” as her space. It was an unspoken rule that everyone respected without issue. A former shelf worked perfectly as a desk for her laptop to sit on. She would perch it on the arms of the chair, borrow a mousepad from the office, set up her laptop, and flip between reading comics, watching shows, learning to code, and apartment hunting. Residents would ask her for help with email or their phones, and Nina would happily oblige before quietly returning to her tasks. She became the house tech support, sometimes even helping staff.

Nina quietly worked away stationed in her “office” for two months. Slowly but surely, things began to come together for her. She began receiving food stamps. A studio in Queen Anne popped up in her price range (with the help of Catholic Community Services, or CCS), and then some timely donations. A regular donor happened upon some brand-new dining room chairs, then a desk became available, then a new mattress! After about two and a half months here, Nina was able to move into her new apartment, and had received so much support and donations, CCS needed to bring a van to transport all of her belongings.

During her time at Hospitality House, Nina diligently worked away at meeting her goals. She respected her roommates, encouraged them, and was always pleasant to be around. She is enjoying her new apartment and having her own space and is hoping to find a programming job to put her skills to use. Nina has a bright future ahead of her, and we are glad to have been part of her journey.

Bonnie’s Journey

Bonnie came to us for a second time in July. She had complaints of arthritis which affected her mobility, as well as a couple of mental health diagnoses, a history of domestic violence, and a past of substance abuse.

Bonnie was taking care of her mom full time which began to affect Bonnie more and more. It seemed that she was losing hope with each passing day. Eventually the stress of being homeless, disabled, and caring for her mother became too much. Bonnie relapsed after 4 years of sobriety and was exited from Hospitality House for substance use in November.

Bonnie came back to Hospitality House to pick up her mail a few times after her exit. She told us she was getting sober again, but it was a process. To top it off, her belongings being stored in her car had gotten wet and mildewed, so she was low on clothing, funds, and toiletries. Bonnie told staff, “I hit rock bottom, but the only place I can go now is up. I’m going to keep trying.”

As you know, we have been working with a Rapid Rehousing pilot program. Once a resident leaves Hospitality House, they don’t automatically exit the RRH program. Luckily, Bonnie had been established with the RRH Case Manager before she left Hospitality House and they were able to continue their work together. In February, three months after her relapse, Bonnie and her RRH Case Manager shared the best news we could have received: Bonnie found help to get back on the path to sobriety, she moved into her own apartment, and she would be receiving rental assistance for life!

Our hopes for our residents don’t end when they leave Hospitality House, or even when they find housing. A relapse can happen at any moment, or a health crisis, or a pandemic. We hope that each resident can take the tools they’ve learned here at Hospitality House to rise as high as they can. To arm themselves with knowledge so they are prepared for what comes next. To ask for help when it matters most. Bonnie didn’t find housing during her time here, but she found her strength and power within herself to keep pushing forward. Now she gets to reap the benefits of her hard work, and we get to celebrate her.

Just like moons and like suns,

With the certainty of tides,

Just like hopes springing high,

Still I’ll rise.

-Still I Rise

Maya Angelou

Client success stories: Linda*

Linda was a homeless woman who was living in her car for a month before she came to Hospitality House. She had a past marred by drugs, domestic violence and jail, not to mention having battled significant mental health issues. When it all added up, the odds of success were not in her favor. Hitting rock bottom, losing custody of her children was the sobering awakening she needed to want to truly turn her life around and get a new start. She just needed a starting place, and Hospitality House was it.

Linda had been sober since early this year, but being homeless, just out of jail and living in her car made it difficult for her to rest, eat, do laundry, and focus on how to establish stable housing to get her kids back. Linda’s story and hope for change was one that easily moved our staff to action.

Each week, Linda met with her case manager to discuss a plan to help get her closer to her goals. Linda was directed to a local human services organization to help in her housing search. This move allowed Linda to see all the housing options that were available to her that fit her personal criteria. This was a game changer and her chances for a fresh start in a new home seemed possible.

Linda worked diligently down the list of low-income housing properties, applying to her prospective housing options. With constant check-ins, guidance and accountability from her case manager, Linda was able to push forward with her goals toward housing. She was also able to sort out her legal affairs, find sobriety support and get her mental health needs in order. With Linda’s sights set on the big picture, she was taking care of all the little details to ensure that nothing could hinder her from reaching her goal.

Imagine the thrill, joy and pride that Linda showed when she got the confirmation that she been approved to move into the apartment at the top of her “Hope List”! With the determination and tenacity she showed in making this dream come true, we are confident she will work just as hard, if not harder, to ensure that this may be the place that one day, her children too, may be able to call this place home.

* At Hospitality House, we respect everyone who comes to us for help – and many are working toward a fresh start in life. So while their stories are true, client names and images may have been changed to protect their privacy. Thank you for understanding.

Client Success Stories – Leah*

On her first night at Hospitality House, Leah appeared detached from reality. She was unresponsive most of the time, and when she did speak, she had the tendency to slur her words, or was agitated and defensive. When dinner arrived, she sat down to eat and kept falling asleep in her food. The women were concerned about her health and mental stability, and staff kept a close eye because they did not know whether they would be able to accommodate her high needs.

A few nights into her stay, a staff member went into the kitchen to do a look-over after lights out and Leah was awake eating. The staff member struck up a casual conversation with Leah who opened up about her children in foster care. This was the first coherent conversation that someone was able to have with her and was enough to confirm that she continue her care here at Hospitality House.

The following day, staff followed up with Leah to determine if she became sedated by her prescribed medication and responded that it was unusual for her and that she was having a difficult time with the medication adjustment prescribed to her; she explained that one of her doses had been changed. Leah’s medication dosage was lowered, and as a result she became more cognizant and easier to communicate with. Her medication change allowed room for staff to accommodate her specific needs. Over time, Leah’s demeanor changed and she was able to relax, and her anxiety levels decreased. Her positive attitude began to carry over the remainder of her stay at Hospitality House. On one of her last days at the House, Leah told a staff member how she had felt supported by the staff and would miss the House after she left. During her last case management meeting, Leah expressed that she felt she had made significant personal progress. She said that her counselor noticed she was less anxious and Leah reported that the voices in her head were less frequent and more manageable.

Leah exited to another shelter program and is continuing to work towards stability. Shortly after exiting Hospitality House, Leah called staff and was asked how she was doing. Leah responded with “Oh you know, I’m doing okay, but this isn’t Hospitality House.”

With donors like you, we can help more clients like Leah, who need a place like Hospitality House that provides that extra bit of support, and an attentive environment to determine what their needs are and get them the help they need.

We wish you all the best, Leah!!


* At Hospitality House, we respect everyone who comes to us for help – and many are working toward a fresh start in life. So while their stories are true, client names and images may have been changed to protect their privacy. Thank you for understanding.

Client success story – Janet*

Before arriving at Hospitality House, Janet stayed with different friends and family since becoming homeless a few years ago.  Janet explained that alcohol abuse was at the core of her homelessness and while she had periods of sobriety, she had not been able to maintain it long enough to move forward.

As part part of her case plan at Hospitality House, Janet established professional sobriety support, began working with a sponsor, and attending AA meetings weekly.  After several weeks, she reported this was the first time she felt strong in her sobriety.  Janet realized she wasn’t able to do it on her own and needed the support.

Janet worked closely with staff to focus on finding clean and sober transitional housing, as she felt this was the next logical step.  Janet interviewed for many Oxford Houses (transitional housing for recovering addicts) but each time, another applicant was chosen.  Despite this, Janet maintained a positive attitude and just kept applying.  Her housing search eventually led her to a local transitional house for recovering addicts, where she will be renting a room for the next year.

* At Hospitality House, we respect everyone who comes to us for help – and many are working toward a fresh start in life. So while their stories are true, client names and images may have been changed to protect their privacy. Thank you for understanding.