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.

Below is a gratitude video from Raymond and Althea.

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!

JOYful Gathering Update

Thank you to everyone who supported our families over the holidays! We surpassed
our goal of $20,000 and raised more than $25,000 to make our families’ holidays even
brighter. Thank you to our lead sponsor Capital One Café and the employees from
Parker, Smith & Feek, Indeed.com, and F5 Networks for donating towards our JOYful
Giving Season. 2020 looks very joyful for our program and the families we support.
Thank you for all you do to make our program and our families successful!

Denise Nicole

At the beginning of the school year, Denise Nicole spoke to our guests at our annual luncheon. Here is her story…

Good afternoon. It is an honor to be here. My name is Denise Nicole, and my four-year-old son, Kingston, and I just joined the Family Connections Program.

I am here on behalf of all the new and returning student parents and their families to thank you for believing in us and our children.

My journey has been filled with hardships that could have impacted my life in a negative way. There have been hurdles and obstacles that could have stopped me in my tracks. But I have persevered and stayed true to my path because I am worth fighting for!

During my senior year in high school, my mother passed away unexpectedly from diabetes. Two months later, I found out I was pregnant. I instantly went from the baby of the family to the head of my own household. My two older brothers were already out of the house and my father went into a deep depression and went his own way.

I was scared. Scared to be another statistic. So, I educated myself on parenting resources and took all of the available parenting classes. I continue to strive to be the best mother and role model for my children and my community.

I was an active, and engaged high school student, who happened to be pregnant. Teachers and community leaders told me that I wouldn’t attend college. I could have listened to the naysayers. But I didn’t.

I choose to hold on to one teacher’s voice, Pamela Dykstra my homeroom teacher, she planted seeds of hope within me.

She told me she believed in me and one day I would make it into Harvard if I choose too.

Her seeds of hope sprinkled with my mother’s unconditional love have inspired me to do many great things. Becoming a mother to a beautiful daughter and son, go to college, and go after the career that I desire and deserve. This past year, I completed the Race, Equity and Leadership in school’s professional development training at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.  This achievement reinforced my commitment to my goal of creating a nonprofit leadership academy for young adults to become inspirational influencers in their own communities.  I am going to name my nonprofit after my daughter, Charizma.

Currently, I work full-time and will be going to school full-time. The budget-breaking cost of childcare almost crushed my dreams of finishing college, but your support today will help me graduate with a bachelor’s degree, create more job security, and it will give my son a boost by getting him ready to attend kindergarten in a year.

My son just started his Pre-K program a few days ago at the local Y and the preschool tuition assistance that Goodwin Connections provides will be a game-changer for our family.

I am looking forward to us all being in school at the same time. I picture us at the kitchen table, my son printing his name over and over again, my daughter doing her biology homework, and me editing a paper I have to turn in the next day. It’s going to be a great year.

For some of you, your school days probably seem long ago and far away.  But there are several people here today, just like me, who are starting a fresh school year right now!  To the donors who have made this program strong for so many years, I would just like to say: we are so thankful for your support.

 

JOYful Giving Season

The JOYful Giving season is right around the corner! It begins November 18! This is our holiday and year-end giving campaign to support families participating in our program. In addition to making childcare and preschool more affordable for student parents, we also provide their entire family with additional basic needs support throughout the year–including over the holidays.

NEW this year, if you make a gift in honor of someone special during the JOYful Giving season, the recipient will receive a holiday card letting them know of your thoughtful gift to support our families.

Learn more about all the different ways you can get involved, give back, and make a difference for local families this holiday season…

Thank you to Capital One, Parker, Smith & Feek, and Little Rae’s Bakery for sponsoring our JOYful Giving season.