First Place Students Reading with volunteer
“I am Chayee, I came to First Place with my mother, afraid, living somewhere downtown Seattle, there were seven brothers and sisters. We were a “hot mess.” Casey tells me she saw me with my hair not combed and so cute and frightened and she knew that I was hers to mentor. Casey is still part of my life and I am part of hers.
As a First Place student I stayed longer than most students, I thought it was because I was loved more than the other students. No, it is because my mom had such a long road to travel. I was told that I could learn and do anything, I could do math, I could read, Barbara Bennett and Ms. Maryamu were always telling me what I could do. Well I could and I did.
My mother has modeled for me what intention brings to a family. She loved my brothers and sisters and me so much she allowed First Place to help her change her life. I am now in college and will have a four year degree. I will teach music. Music has had a consistent presence in my life. When I could not count on much, I could count on the beauty of my mother’s voice and the positive messages in what she would sing and teach me to sing.
Now I am a mother, and I making good decisions that will assure that my children have a safe place to grow up. An education that will likewise give them a chance. I do not think that any knows what it felt like to come and be a volunteer and provide child care during a recent First Place meeting. Me, who was once a First Place child now returning to help.
Thank you for anything that you have done to make First Place a reality for 25 years and touched the lives of so many people. You did not know that this once scared child would one day grow to be the mother of two wonderful smart children living in a nice apartment. That I would go to college and become a teacher of music.”
The number of lives that First Place has touched cannot be enumerated or substantiated. When we help a mother who has fled from domestic violence find a new home for her children, we know that many lives are touched in significant ways.
How Many? Her children of course; and her extended family grows with her. Parents attending workshops have brought with them their own parents, their brothers once even Uncle Lewis came. The family that was not such a good neighbor and was evicted is now contributing to what is making her new neighborhood safe for herself and children.
How many? The child who was so very sad when she entered First Place is now a major contributor to First Place and other helping organizations.
How many? We did not really count. The volunteers, who appear healthy and happy, find new purpose in the presence of tutoring a First Place child. And the elderly couple, have to stay healthy and alive, they are hooked on the children and all they bring despite their very poor and often tragic young lives.
We did count the years and the work that has been done on behalf of very poor, highly mobile homeless children and families. For 25 years First Place has brought HOPE, HOME AND EDUCATION to clients who arrive with small children. Frightened but determined to put a roof over their children’s heads, and to address the needs that brought them to the place they are. With determination and the First Place family intentionality is in place and it works.
We are asking those who invested in the first 25 year of First Place to stay with us as we expand our work to double the number of children we educate and families we serve. We need to expand the number of teachers, our therapeutic team, our case managers and our space. We are utilizing the new opportunity provided in WA State and making First Place a public charter school. This will expand us into the public realm as a model of what can occur when the focus of educating very poor children is not on their current condition, but on what they can become when people care.
You have cared during these 25 years of replacing despair with HOPE.
You have invested in seeing that every First Place child has a clean and safe place to call HOME.
You helped to end cycles of extreme poverty and homelessness and all that these mean for children by supporting an education that gives them a fighting chance in life. Together with a generous, caring and smart community of donors,
First Place has not only helped parents house their children, address many issues, and secure for their children the best education. First Place became their village. So many have returned to say, “I am ready to help.” The investment you made along with so many others have created that next generation. The returns are huge.
The stories of our Former Parents and Students of First Place tell the progression from HURTING TO HEALING TO HELPING. They want to give back and again like we have been for all who have something to give, First Place has opened the doors to families returning as our colleagues. Here is the return on the First Place 25 year investment in homeless parents, children, their education and well being.