Help families in need by donating to The Seattle Times editorial board’s school-supply drive.
A YWCA Seattle-King-Snohomish program to help parents reunite with their children after prison and work toward a normal life has ambitious goals: Help families find a permanent place to live, plus work and services within 12 to 18 months.
About 88 percent of families who live at the YWCA Passage Point housing complex in Maple Valley graduate into permanent housing.
Dante Pollard’s parenting journey is illustrative of the successes and challenges of the YWCA program. After serving more than two years in prison on a firearms charge, Pollard was homeless for more than seven months before he learned about Passage Point. He now has mental-health counseling, enriching activities for his 7- and 10-year-old girls and a safe place to live.
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And thanks in part to the generosity of Seattle Times readers, Pollard’s daughters head off to school each fall with a new backpack full of school supplies. Passage Point houses about 70 children who benefit from the editorial board’s summer school-supply drive.
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YWCA is one of the three organizations that split those reader donations. The other recipients are Hopelink and the Seattle-King County Coalition on Homelessness. Between the three organizations, about 5,000 children received backpacks full of school supplies last year.
Pollard says the back-to-school help from the YWCA, which also includes new clothes and shoes, is a blessing on top of all the other help and support they have received at Passage Point, where he and the other residents pay 30 percent of their income in rent.
He got help finding his job and is receiving support for his search for permanent housing.
Pollard is now giving as well as receiving — as a mentor for other parents and by leading parenting classes.
“They call me a fatherhood expert,” Pollard says with pride, after talking about his journey since becoming a single parent of an infant and toddler.
Last year, his younger daughter picked out a furry pink backpack to carry to school. “She loved that thing,” Pollard said, adding that it gave the whole family an emotional as well as economic boost.
“It’s hard for parents to give up things like light bills or phone bills or part of their rent to save it for something expensive like backpacks and school supplies,” Pollard said.
Don’t blame kids for their parents’ mistakes, he adds. Thousands of children benefit from the school-supply drive. Please give.