Every year, United Way of King County hosts the Community Resource Exchange (CRE) to offer a one stop shop for individuals and families experiencing homelessness. There have been 9 so far and because of my background in nonprofits, I've been fortunate to participate in 7. Over 1,400 people received services in one day at Seattle Center.
This year, I volunteered to do intake- in other words, I helped people in a very long line identify the services that would be helpful to them and gather data that would be useful to United Way for future funding. In short, I asked hundreds of people whether or not they were homeless, where they slept and heard their stories. It is a powerful day, for sure.
One incredible high point was when I met Ethel. She had been homeless for 8 months and learned only hours before that she had housing! The last step, she would need to head to the Social Security office for some documentation. I got to tell her that Social Security was actually AT the CRE. So, she could finish everything up then and there in order to have a bed to sleep in that night. She graciously let me take a photo of her with another volunteer. They both look incredible. Here they are:
There are over 8,000 people experiencing homelessness in King County on any giving night. These events really remind me that having the opportunity to look and feel our best is truly a gift. It's not frivolous. When you feel good about how you look and who you are, you are capable of incredible things. You inspire confidence in others. You demand the best of yourself. Here I am with a few of volunteers who prove that giving back makes you look and feel beautiful even if it is very early in the morning.