Sharing Lives: 2019 Fall Edition

How do you apply for a job or fill out a rental application without a photo ID?

Having a valid piece of identification (ID) is a necessity that many of us take for granted. For many adults, the responsibilities of renewing one’s driver’s license or filling in a Social Security number for a job application are often overlooked as some of the many minuscule chores they must do as an integrated member of society.

“A lack of ID and the difficulty in obtaining ID is truly an issue for our clients that we see each day at the Share Day Center,” said Jillian Daleiden, director of Share Outreach.

So, what are you supposed to do if you’re among the estimated millions of U.S. citizens* who don’t have a photo ID issued by a state, or other proof of your identity, such as a birth certificate?

Several systemic barriers often prevent these individuals from having a valid ID. Without a stable place to call “home,” someone who is
experiencing homelessness faces obstacles both in obtaining and keeping ID safe. A person may not have the means to complete forms such as birth certificates for several reasons, such as not having the necessary parental information, difficulties with reading and writing, or the transportation necessary to travel to the local office of the department of motor vehicles. Money may also be a barrier; in the state of Washington, there is a $54 fee to replace a state-issued ID card.

And for those frequently moving from one location to the next, there may not be the social connections to obtain a guarantor necessary to vouch for their identity. Moreover, even if they do get through this process, there is the additional issue of not having a permanent address where their ID can be mailed to them.

“Being homeless is tough enough. Being homeless without ID is sometimes an insurmountable situation. Our clients must face a system that can be intimidating and difficult,” said Katie Louis, director of Share House.

If you lose any or all three of these A-list pieces of ID—birth certificate, Social Security card or driver’s license—getting them back is a circular problem; you often need one of more of these documents in order to replace the other. The fight against identity theft and illegal immigration are two drivers behind tightening regulations that make getting ID, or replacing it, difficult. “We’re a society that not only depends on but demands you prove who you are,” says Katie. The invisibility that results from not being able to verify one’s identity can lead to barriers in accessing crucial services, such as the health care system.

A lack of ID is a symptom rather than a cause of homelessness. In other words, conditions of homelessness such as lacking secure housing and not having a job and dealing with the everyday realities of extreme poverty, make it difficult to keep and obtain pieces of ID.

There is some good news in the state of Washington. A measure in the state Legislature, Senate Bill 5664, aims to eliminate barriers to ID for homeless people. If passed, the Department of Commerce and the Department of Licensing would be required to create a program to provide homeless individuals with a free ID card, also known as the identicard.

To be eligible for this free card, applicants would have to meet the definition of a sheltered or unsheltered homeless person, reside in Washington state and not have a valid state-issued identicard or driver’s license.

* A 2006 national survey conducted by the Brennan Center found that as many as 11% of American, or more than 21 million people, don’t have a government-issues photo ID, with elderly, minority populations or low-income individuals being least likely to possess ID.

Download a PDF version of the Fall 2019 Edition of ‘Sharing Lives’ to read all the stories from this quarter.

Sharing Lives: 2019 Summer Edition

Day Center Builds on Success at the Vancouver Navigation Center

The Share Day Center has now been open for six months in its new location at the Vancouver Navigation Center. Services offered are client-centered and based on participants’ goals, which increases chances for long-term success. Day Center staff utilize techniques such as trauma informed care, harm reduction, assertive engagement, motivational interviewing and strength-based practice to provide a safe and welcoming environment for all and to help participants meet their goals and improve their lives.

Since last November, 1,303 people accessed the Day Center:
64* people obtained housing, 39* people obtained employment, 1,077 people accessed shower and/or laundry facilities, and 389 people accessed case management or housing navigation

Alarmingly, Share is increasingly serving a new population at the Day Center: our senior citizens. Many of these men and women live on a fixed income with expenses that continue to rise. These individuals should be enjoying their golden years in the comfort of home but are now facing a shocking reality: homelessness. Once such individual was Julie.

When 84-year-old Julie+ visited Share’s Day Center, she was newly homeless and had run out of options. The owner of the apartment complex in which she lived had sold the property and notified residents that they would have to move. Julie had limited financial resources, faced continuously rising expenses and had no family or support system in the area for assistance. When the day came to vacate her apartment, Julie checked into a motel and stayed as long as she could, maxing out all of her credit cards.

Julie was confronted with the reality of sleeping on the streets when she heard about the Day Center. She met with our Housing Navigator, Mike, who put together a housing search plan for her. Within two days, Mike had arranged a meeting for Julie and a landlord with a room to rent. The meeting was successful, and she was approved to move in. Click the link below to read more about Julie’s story and how our Housing Navigators are helping people move into housing.

Download a PDF version of the Summer 2019 Edition of ‘Sharing Lives’ to read all the stories from this quarter.

Sharing Lives: 2019 Spring Edition

Rent Well: Self-awareness, Self-advocacy & Educational Empowerment

Affordable housing continues to be a crisis in our community. Last year, rents in Vancouver increased 1.7 percent. Vancouver’s median one-bedroom rent is currently $1,400 per month and a median two-bedroom rent is $1,650; both numbers are higher than in comparable cities nationwide.

However, rising rents are not the only barrier facing individuals and families in search of housing. For those who have experienced homelessness, they may have added barriers including low-income, substance abuse, criminal records, mental illness, foreclosure and past evictions. But there is good news and it’s called the Rent Well Program, a 15-hour tenant education program taught by certified instructors in Oregon and Washington.

The course is typically taught in three to six weeks and covers key information and skills for becoming a responsible, successful, and stable tenant. Since Share began overseeing the Rent Well program in Clark County in 2011, 1,279 people have graduated.

“One of the most powerful outcomes of the Rent Well class is something that can be experienced and not necessarily measured. The increased self-awareness, self-advocacy and educational empowerment that can be felt in the classroom is life-changing for our students and our community as a whole,” shared Jennifer Mitchell, Tenant Education Coordinator. “The Rent Well class is crucial in continuing to educate our community members, especially those with housing barriers, on their rights and responsibilities as tenants. This increased knowledge empowers people to overcome these housing barriers and continue to push for policy and law changes allowing for individuals and families to access safe and affordable housing.”

In 2018 alone, 87 people graduated. Regarding those graduation statistics, Jennifer added: “Two of the 2018 graduates who attempted the class could not initially complete it, but came back later in the year to graduate, which I believe speaks to how beneficial students view the class.”

Participants can also create a personalized Housing Portfolio tailored to their housing needs and have access to the Landlord Incentive Fund upon course graduation. This fund can be used as an extra incentive for landlords to rent to individuals. Click the link below to learn more about the Rent Well program.

Download a PDF version of the Spring 2019 Edition of ‘Sharing Lives’ to read all the stories from this quarter.

Sharing Lives: Holiday 2018 Edition

Share Welcomes Becci Read-Ryan as New Hunger Response Assistant Director

Becci shares her enthusiasm for her job and how our Backpack Program and Fresh Food Pantries are truly making a difference in the community:

I have a passion for providing nutrition education and food access to underserved populations. My job has been challenging and incredibly rewarding since I started in August. The first two weeks on the job, I organized an emergency mobile pantry for Evergreen and Vancouver school districts to fill the need for food while schools were unexpectedly closed.

After that, I dove headfirst into making connections with schools and figuring out how the Backpack Program and Fresh Food Pantries worked. It’s amazing how a simple bag of food positively impacts students’ and families’ ability to function and reduces stress in their life because now they have food they can count on. They know that they will get food on Fridays, and they don’t have to worry about not having anything to feed their children over the weekend. I am excited to continue growing these programs, and hope that I can provide nutritious food to low-income families throughout Clark County in a way that is accessible for them.

One of our fabulous Family & Community Resource Counselors, Jennifer Beeks, recently shared two heart-warming stories from Orchards Elementary School:

Josefina is so thankful for the food support she receives as a participating family in our Backpack Program. Her family of six truly appreciates the additional meals to help extend their family food budget.  In fact, the kids love the macaroni and cheese so much that they all wanted to have a picture taken with it. Josefina shared, “I am so grateful for this program and know that without it my kids would not have as much nutritious food to eat.” Click the link below to learn more about our Fresh Food Pantries.

Download a PDF version of the Holiday 2018 Edition of ‘Sharing Lives’ to read all the stories from this quarter.

Sharing Lives: Fall 2018 Edition

Housing Navigators: Making a Difference

Share has added a new position that has made a dramatic increase in the number of clients being housed. A Housing Navigator engages and motivates those experiencing homelessness by linking them with housing opportunities, developing budgets, completing applications and advocating with local landlords. In just one month, our Share House Housing Navigator, Gavin Rose, recently moved 30% of the Share House residents into housing.

Otha Common is top of mind when considering clients who have benefitted from a partnership with Share’s Housing Navigators. When asked if we could share his journey with others, he readily agreed. His only request was, “Don’t forget to talk about Gavin, he’s awesome. A heaven sent for me. He got me a place and did it quickly.”

Staff first met Otha at Share House while he was eating at the Hot Meals program. He had the biggest, most welcoming smile and the most infectious laugh. Otha grew up in Chicago and used boxing as a way to keep off the streets and stay out of trouble. He often shared stories about his days as an AAU boxer, and professional boxing career. Otha would visit with some of the clients in the area and was always willing to give rides and support to people when they were in need. At the time, Otha was employed building homes. But he injured his knee and spent a long time pursuing a worker’s compensation claim to get his knee repaired. After the injury, his health rapidly declined, in part due to his living conditions. He was unable to work and lost his home. He lived in his car for a while and eventually couldn’t keep up with the cost and lost it, too.

His earlier acts of kindness were rewarded. Upon learning Otha had lost his car and was having to sleep on the street, one of his friends let us know. The program director reached out to Otha to talk about his options and he entered shelter in 2016. Click the link below to read the entire story of Otha’s successful in securing housing.

Download a PDF version of the Fall 2018 Edition of ‘Sharing Lives’ to read all the stories from this quarter.

Sharing Lives: Summer 2018 Edition

June, July & August = Summer Meals!

It’s summer time and that means our Summer Meals Program is kicking into high gear! Our program strives to provide fresh, nutritious meals that include fruit and vegetables so that children in our communities do not face hunger during the summer months.

“When children go hungry, their basic needs aren’t being met and then they can’t reach higher goals and aspirations,” said Katie Dwailebee, hunger response assistant director. “If children don’t have enough nutritious food, they not only suffer physically, but they also face a lifetime effort to move beyond that basic struggle to survive towards being able to thrive.

This year’s program will serve meals at 22 locations, including apartment complexes, local schools, Police Activities League (PAL) camps, Vancouver-Clark Parks & Recreation camps, as well as local churches and partner organizations.

All of the locations are open sites and all children ages 18 and under are welcome to come and enjoy a free meal even if they are not enrolled in the site’s program or camp. The program is part of the Simplified Summer Feeding Program, funded by the USDA. Visit sharevancouver.org for a complete list of site locations, dates and times during which meals will be served.

Download a PDF version of the Summer 2018 Edition of ‘Sharing Lives’ to read all the stories from this quarter

Sharing Lives: Spring 2018 Edition

Community Rallies for #every28days

The second annual #every28days was a huge success, resulting in 16 pallets of feminine hygiene products in our warehouse! Thank you to Garage Bar & Grille and Mill Creek Pub for hosting events on Feb. 28, as well as the more than 20 businesses* that had collection bins leading up to the event. A special thanks to Lisa Goodrich, this year’s event chair, as well as to Dianna Kretzschmar, who organized the inaugural event last year. To everyone in our community who donated so generously—thank you! We’ll be working with local nonprofits who serve women and girls in need to help get these donations to those who need them.

Our own Kim Hash, director of development and communications, attended the event and shared this: “Tons of wonderful feminine hygiene products being donated tonight for the girls and women of our community. And what a wonderful community we have! It astounds me how many people care and come out to show it! Thanks to all who are involved in this great effort this year! It takes a village!

Women experiencing homelessness have resources to connect them to a safe place to sleep or a hot meal to eat. But when it comes to taking care of their feminine hygiene needs, they often have nowhere to turn. Tampons and sanitary pads top the list of needs at shelters, as supporters don’t often think to donate them. Compounding the issue is the fact that feminine hygiene items cannot be purchased with food stamps, public showers are scarce and poor hygiene during menstruation can lead to infections.

While our warehouse is full today, feminine hygiene products are always needed and can be dropped off at the Share Fromhold Service Center.

* Thank you for supporting #every28days! Innovative Services NW, Prosecuting Attorneys Office, A Dogs Best Friend, Salmon Creek Plastic Surgery, Vancouver Chambers of Commerce, The Quarry, Almea Insurance, PeaceHealth: PHSW Campus, Glenwood Place, Whole Foods, American Family Insurance, Filbin’s Hardware, Ameriprise, Barre3 (119th St.), Divine Consign, GLAMbeauty bar, Morton’s Stoves, Riverview Bank (Battle Ground) and Dapper D’s.

Download a PDF version of the Spring 2018 Edition of ‘Sharing Lives’ to read all the stories from this quarter

‘Sharing Lives’: 2017 Holiday Edition

Mandi Carsey and Officer Tyler Chavers Honored at Soup’s On Event

This year’s Soup’s On event included the presentation of: the 2017 Emily Marshall Volunteer of the Year Award to Mandi Carsey and the 2017 Community Partnership Award to Office Tyler Chavers.

Mandi is our volunteer ‘Backpack Manager’ and has been participating in that program for more than six years. Each week, she dons her hot pink safety vest and takes the lead on ensuring that bags of food are loaded correctly into the cars of volunteer delivery drivers. Fellow volunteer Ted Powell said this in his nomination of Mandy: “She can multi-task and anticipate to keep the bags and food flowing at a fast pace. She does this with the accuracy needed to make sure we don’t waste food and, more importantly, that we provide a backpack to a student in need of a meal.”

Upon receiving the award, Mandi said, “I was trying to find something to do with my kids, because I thought it was important to get involved in the community.”

Officer Chavers is the person whom our clients know best: he is the most likely to know their names, their stories, and often engages them in conversation even when there is not a crisis. He is the one that reaches out to our staff when there are people living on the street who the police believe to be highly vulnerable and in need of services. He treats people from all walks of life with compassion and respect, even when they may struggle to do the same.

After accepting his award, Officer Chavers shared, “Every individual in the room, all of you are community and you are all my examples of putting a human face on suffering and not wishing that someone else would do something, but actually doing something.”

Download a PDF version of the Holiday 2017 Edition of ‘Sharing Lives’ to read all the stories from this quarter

‘Sharing Lives’: 2017 Fall Edition

Summer Meals Bring Smiles to Local Children

At the Cascade Woods apartment complex, children play soccer in the sport court after eating a ham & cheese sandwich, orange wedges and broccoli, courtesy of our Summer Meals program. This is just one example of the 21 sites that brought smiles and meals to local children this summer.

Kids need good nutrition all year long, so we are grateful to the hundreds of volunteers who prepare, pack and deliver these nutritious meals during the seven-week program, as well as to those who give their time handing out lunches at our meal sites. We are particularly thankful to the mangers of the seven apartment complexes whose collaboration allows us to bring the meals directly to children most at risk of hunger.

While we most often talk about the importance of nutrition, our Summer Meals Program has the added benefit or relieving stress—both mental and financial—on local families. On average, the household price of food goes up $300 per child in the summer.

Families have so much on their plates these days. Rent and food prices continue to increase and wages have not kept up with the price of living,” says Katie Dwailebee, our Hunger Response Assistant Director. “When you are struggling to put food on the table, having to provide an extra meal each day can drive your budget right over the edge. By decreasing some financial strain, parents don’t have to stretch their funds so thin and can instead purchase nutritious food for the meals they are able to provide at home.”

We’d like to give a huge thank you to Stacy Struck, this year’s Summer Meals Food Service Coordinator, for keeping our volunteers organized and enthusiastic, as well as for her hard work and dedication to feeding children in Clark County.

Download a PDF version of the Fall 2017 Edition of ‘Sharing Lives’ to read all the stories from this quarter

‘Sharing Lives’: Summer 2017 Edition

Changing Lives at Lincoln Place

Residents at Lincoln Place continue to make great strides during the first year in which the building has been open.

Alan Cooley came to reside at Lincoln Place April 7. He was working with Share outreach staff, Pam and Willie, for a few years prior to coming into our Housing First program. Alan had fallen prey to predators who knew when his weekly stipends would arrive. Being a vulnerable adult, it was easy for those predators to talk Alan into almost anything; including giving away all his money, his clothing, and various other resources.

Alan is no longer being taken advantage of and has a place to call home. He is most excited about having a stereo and throw rugs. He is beginning to nest and it’s a wonderful sight to behold.

Cori Thompson moved into Lincoln Place when Lincoln Place first opened. After experiencing years of homelessness, she was grateful to be housed. She progressed throughout the year being a good neighbor, working on ensuring she was going to the doctor to address her mental health issues and making plans for her future.

Confident about her progress, Cori met with Olivia Resnik, our Housing First Director, and told her she felt ready to take the next step towards total independence with her life. She asked to be moved from Lincoln Place into an apartment through the Housing & Urban Development (HUD) scattered site program for the chronically homeless, living independently, but with continued case management services.

Working with her case manager, Cori was approved and moved into her new home on April 17. Cori was very excited to move on to the next chapter in her life.

Lincoln Place’s is showing, each and every day, how the housing first program can truly transform the lives of people who had previously faced years of struggle.

Download a PDF version of the Summer 2017 Edition of ‘Sharing Lives’  to read all the stories from this quarter.