Raymond

We met Raymond about 24 hours after his daughter was born. He had just come from the hospital for his initial meeting with us. He applied to our Family Connections Program months earlier, knowing that he and his wife, Althea, needed childcare if they were to keep working toward their degrees.

We said, “let’s reschedule”, but his response was, “this meeting can’t wait.”

Raymond had some time before he needed to be back home with his new little family.  So we met with him and he was accepted into the Family Connections Program on the spot. He and his wife were laser-focused on earning their college degrees. The childcare assistance would help them stay the course.

Like many of our students, the road to college is not linear. Twists and turns, blockades and barriers make getting ahead even more challenging.

Raymond remembers his first, life-changing action after he was released from prison.

“I spent the first few years of my adult life in prison…my release date came, and I had nobody waiting to pick me up at the gate, so the guards drove me down to the Everett bus station. I had nothing to my name except the grey Monroe Correctional Facility sweatsuit I was wearing, and a paper bag with my housing voucher paperwork in it. I walked straight to Everett Community College from that bus station.”

Now, finishing up an associate degree at Everett Community College, his academic efforts have turned his life around and created stability for his family. He looks forward to transferring to the University of Washington to earn his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering this fall. His wife is planning on continuing her education, too. We look forward to supporting this mom and dad through their graduation days.

UPDATE: Raymond was this year’s commencement speaker at Everett Community College. In his graduation speech, he reflects on his past and gives us a look at his future. Raymond will be attending the University of Washington this fall on a full scholarship! ⠀

Below is a gratitude video from Raymond and Althea.

Congratulations to our Graduates!

We are immensely proud of these 30 scholars who, despite increased challenges due to COVID-19, have made it to graduation day! Whether they’re continuing on to earn their next degree, or jumping into a new career, we know exciting things are in store.

Thank you to all who donated and supported Goodwin Connections this year.

Click on the video below to hear from, Tara, one of this year’s graduates.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A message to our Student Parents

To our Student Parents,

We want to acknowledge that these are incredibly hard times for many of you, especially our Black families. Like us, you are probably feeling sadness, anger, and frustration about the death of George Floyd, we are grieving with you and with our nation.

We wanted to let you know that we understand the challenges you face every day go far beyond the need for childcare, and to assure you that we see you, we support you, and we stand with you. Hatred and bigotry have no place in the Goodwin Connections Family or in the world.

Over the years, we have adapted to meet the changing needs of our families. Most recently, we’ve supported you through COVID-19 and will continue to do so. Now is another one of those times. We want to hear how we can help amplify you and your voices within our program and our shared community. Institutionalized racism hurts us all and we will not just be a passive supporter in the fight against it, but rather actively working against it.

We stand with our Black families. We are listening, we are learning, and we are ready to help make sustainable and meaningful change.

As always, please reach out if you need anything from us. We are here for you.

The Goodwin Connections Family

Good news to report!

Dear Friends of Goodwin Connections,
We are so overwhelmed by your caring hearts!
Not only did you surpass the GiveBIG goal, but you allowed us to meet our match. Your $12,844 in online and mailed in gifts plus the $10,000 match means that this has been the most successful GiveBIG ever for our families.
Like so much of what we do, we do together. GiveBIG was a true team effort. Thank you, thank you, to our board members, committee members, long-time supporters, and new supporters.
We are so amazed by your generosity and commitment to keeping our families safe, healthy, and connected to school through this spring, summer, and into the new school year.
We look forward to updating you with a lot of good news next month, as many students will be celebrating their college graduation.
Take care,
Maggie Skinner
Executive Director

P.S. Below is a video of thanks from Rachelle, a student from Seattle Central College, who will be graduating with her Bachelor’s Degree in Health this spring.

Tara

We met Tara just before her little one was born. A few weeks later, she welcomed her daughter into the world, and we welcomed Tara into our Family Connections Program. She started in the dental assistant program at Clover Park Technical College soon after.

Today, Tara has a dental assistant job waiting for her after graduation this spring, and she will eventually begin classes towards her ultimate goal of becoming a dental hygienist.

There is a shortage of dental assistants and hygienists in Washington state. And, once Tara graduates, she will help fill the need for trained dental technicians in our region.

Your support will help Tara to graduate on time, keep her daughter safe, and embark on her dream career. By making childcare more affordable and consistent for parents, success stories like Tara’s are much more possible.

“Goodwin Connections truly cares about my family. When I got pregnant in high school, I thought my dreams of being in the dental field were ruined. When I first met with them and found I could still go to school and have my daughter in the amazing childcare on campus I cried. I was so happy and relieved.”

 

GiveBIG for a Good(win)!

Every donation between now and May 6, 2020, will count toward our overall GiveBIG goal and will make a difference for our families.

Goodwin Connections has been supporting Puget Sound families since 1907. Together, we’ve helped families through the influenza outbreak of 1918, the Great Depression, and two world wars. Throughout our long and rich history, our ability to show flexibility and respond to changing needs has given us the ability to continue our work.

Now, our student parents and their families are facing uncharted territory with the COVID-19 outbreak. Many are unsure if they’ll be able to complete their classes and graduate this spring, and some are scrambling to fill the holes in childcare that school closures have left.

For the last several decades we have focused on making childcare more affordable for student-parents who are earning a college degree. Today, we need to expand that focus to include keeping students housed, fed, and healthy.

Our students are resilient; thanks to generous donors and corporate support we have ensured that each of them has what they need to complete spring quarter from home.
However, this work is far from done. When school resumes in the fall, many of our students will be facing a vastly different landscape. Childcare, already in short supply, may be harder to find. Childcare centers throughout the region have closed, and it’s unclear how many will reopen.

Now is the time to roll up our sleeves and get to work to support our community, just as we’ve done for over a century. A gift of $25, $50, or $100, in addition to your annual gift, will help us get students to graduation day.

Learn more about the student parents you are supporting with your gift.

If you would prefer to schedule your gift and have it go through on May 6, you can do so at our GiveBIG campaign page at: https://www.givebigwa.org/GoodwinConnections.


Recognition

We would like to thank a generous donor, who wishes to remain anonymous, for matching GiveBIG donations up to a total of $5,000.

We’d also like to acknowledge and thank our technology sponsor, Softchoice Cares for funding computers and internet access for students, along with our partners at Interconnection, for working so quickly to get students online.

We’re incredibly grateful to be part of such a generous and compassionate community.

Thank you from Maria

Last week, we received this letter from a student that we’re so happy to pass on to you. After all, you made this happen.

Now that school is back in session and things are a little more in place I would like to thank you for all the things you’ve done for me, in the last month especially, with all the emotional support and check-in emails. So I wrote a short letter from the bottom of my heart.

In this letter, I would like to express my deepest gratitude to every single person involved with Goodwin Connections and all the donors for their generous contributions towards the education of many students in the state, but especially to those who have helped to support my education during these uncertain times we are living. When I first enrolled for my spring classes at Lake Washington Institute of Technology, I was sure that tightening my family budget would help me pay for my classes and other expenses. I was not aware of the tremendous impact the COVID-19 virus would have on the education and the lifestyle of most of us.

Moving from face to face to online classes during the last five weeks of the winter quarter was a big challenge, because my laptop was not keeping up with the load of homework from school. In this letter I would like to thank you all for your support by providing me with the gift card, new laptop, and the emotional relief of feeling able to do online classes during the spring quarter. 

I have no words that can better describe my gratitude for your support. Thanks to you, I can keep myself on track to obtain an associate in Architectural Design by Summer 2021. I would like to tell you from my heart that your selfless help means the whole world to my family and me, and that I see your donation as an investment in my education. I will make sure that your investment grows.

~Maria, current student

Thank you so much for donating to our COVID-19 relief fund and supporting Maria and our other students. We can’t wait to share their celebratory graduation news with you.

We hope you’re staying safe and healthy at home.

With Gratitude,

The Goodwin Connections Board and Staff

Kristen

Unlocking my Strength

By Kristen

Ten years ago, I was trapped in a domestic violence (DV) relationship. The consequences of this relationship were extensive, affecting my mental, emotional, and physical well-being. During this period, I was prescribed oxycodone for multiple injuries. As the abusive relationship got worse, so too did my abuse of oxycodone.

Eight years ago, I successfully navigated my way out of that DV relationship and my addiction. I have been sober for eight years. This is my story of discovering my strength against the odds and using it to reach my fullest potential.

At seven months pregnant, after hours of being locked in a room—berated with verbal abuse, smothered, struck, and strangled—my water broke. I convinced my abuser that if either the baby or I died, no amount of “it won’t happen again” would save him from legal ramifications and that 911 needed to be called. He was arrested, while I was airlifted to a Seattle hospital.

It is difficult to explain the effect of DV on my life. I mourned the loss of myself. The motivated high school student who switched into a homeschool program to organize my school work around two jobs. The independent traveler who moved alone to London, France, and Australia to experience history, culture, and adventure. The driven worker who networked my way up through the Vegas casino industry.

Over time, I wholeheartedly accepted that all my hopes and dreams were no longer attainable. However, after that medevac helicopter ride, when my son was born, I once again could see the world’s opportunities. For the first time, I did not fear the threats of my abuser or the potential devastation of leaving my house, businesses, cars, and money behind. Upon holding my son, I was abruptly charged with the strength to fight, the humility to become homeless, the courage to start my life over, and the power to never look back.

After a month in the hospital, we moved into a DV shelter. My only possession was my premature newborn son. There I spent months, researching daycare assistance programs to permit me to find work, low-income housing to give us a home, and the court system to enact a protection order and parenting plan. This experience allowed me to become an expert on navigating the systems and programs available to survivors of DV and those
enduring hardships.

As I moved through this process, it became clear to me that so many other people were suffering in similar situations and I became determined to use my focus, experience, and skills on their behalf. To serve these individuals, I first needed to fulfill my dream of attaining my undergraduate degree.

With the support of Goodwin Connections, I graduated from the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business last spring and enrolled at the University of Washington School of Law in the fall. The afterschool care assistance I received for my inquisitive and charming son gave him a creative outlet and educational opportunities that enhanced his own educational journey. For me, it allowed more freedom in scheduling classes, the ability to reallocate my finances as a single mom, and created a future with less debt upon graduation. The childcare piece made it all possible.

My story of addiction, abuse, and poverty is not uncommon. However, what is less likely, is coming through to the other side, stronger and ready to apply that strength to the injustices in the world. I am using my second chance to make myself a better person and the world a better place.

Where are they now? Meet Rich.

A decade ago, Rich was a self-employed contractor working 60 hours a week to make ends meet. He rarely got to spend time with his wife, Rachel, and their two young kids. Still, his health was suffering. Their home was facing foreclosure. They felt stuck.

“It wasn’t sustainable,” Rich says. “I wanted to go to school but the cost of childcare made it prohibitive to not work full time.”

They couldn’t live solely off Rachel’s public teacher salary.

Then they discovered the Seattle Milk Fund (now Goodwin Connections) and their entire outlook changed.

With the barrier of childcare removed, Rich became a first-generation college student. Between classes, he visited his kids at the on-campus childcare center at North Seattle College. At home, he thrived in his role as primary caretaker and household manager. And once Rich earned his associate degree from North Seattle College and returned to work full-time, Rachel was empowered to return to school and earn her
master’s degree.

With both parents now earning more than before their degrees, they enjoy what they view as a simple, sustainable life. And they continue to express gratitude for the support they received by paying it forward as donors.

“The program is a very direct way to help people get a higher education by eliminating a key expense in childcare,” they say. “It gave us hope when it really felt like there wasn’t anything.”

-Tamara Braunstein

Nordstrom Employees Give Back, Then and Now

Big kudos for a job well done to our newest group of corporate volunteers! Devin Tonseth from Nordstrom and his team joined us at our annual Luncheon and also spent a recent afternoon help us prepare for the JOYful Gathering event—by packaging gift bags with donated presents for our families.

Devin’s mother was Sandy Tonseth, a past President and longtime supporter, who belonged to our Everett W. Nordstrom Circle. She and her friends from Nordstrom created the original Nordstrom volunteer team back in 1979. These women continue to fundraise for our program to this day. It is so incredible to see the next generation of Nordstrom
employees supporting our families.

And, in late-breaking news, we just received notice that Goodwin Connections is the recipient of a $1,000 gift from Nordstrom to honor their employees. Thank you, Nordstrom, for being a tremendous community partner and for encouraging your employees to give back.

If your corporate team would like to volunteer in 2020, connect with us at volunteer@goodwinconnections.org. We also have ongoing volunteer opportunities through our Team Goodwin and Storytime volunteer positions. We look forward to chatting with you!