They say they are grateful to have somewhere to go at the end of the day — something that might not have happened if not for the trooper who took an interest in them.
Though a crib is the only furniture in Murray Duncan’s and Alyssa Dunn’s living room, the space is far from the South King County rest area and homeless shelters where they lived with their infant son.
“It feels awesome,” Duncan said of the apartment they moved into June 13.
Duncan and Dunn, who are engaged, are relieved to have the apartment to raise 8-month-old Noel. The couple say the new living situation would not have been possible without the help of Washington State Patrol Trooper Stephanie Bjorkman.
Bjorkman first encountered Duncan, 23, and Noel at the rest area May 22 while she was investigating an unrelated incident. After learning the family was homeless, Bjorkman donated her time and money to help them.
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A June 6 Seattle Times story documented the family’s plight and Bjorkman’s efforts to help them.
Weeks since their first meeting, the trooper still stays in touch with the family. Dunn, 25, said Bjorkman is now helping them get furniture for their apartment. The couple sleep on blankets on the floor, sometimes in the living room with their baby.
Bjorkman gave the family baby formula and restaurant gift cards after their initial meeting. She also helped them connect with various aid programs and activities for the baby, giving Duncan someplace to take Noel while Dunn was at work.
“She’s helped us a lot,” Duncan said of Bjorkman.
The couple became homeless in early May after the transmission on their Hyundai Elantra unexpectedly blew out during their move from Delaware to Washington state. Even though Dunn had landed a job at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, the couple were weeks away for her first paycheck.
They were stranded without savings.
But now, they’re glad to have a home to go to at the end of the long day, which begins early. The family wakes up 4:30 a.m. so Duncan can drop Dunn off at her job as a gate agent for Delta Air Lines.
Dunn said she’s always liked the idea of working at an airport. She attended a Delaware community college to study criminal justice, with hopes of going to the U.S. Naval Academy. But a medical issue with her knee and problems with her mother’s health caused her to choose a different path.
Dunn has held a number of jobs, from lifeguard to substitute teacher and fast-food worker. She met Duncan several years ago while working at a YMCA in Delaware, not knowing they were already Facebook friends.
“He messages me, and he goes, ‘I didn’t know you worked at the YMCA,’ and I was like, ‘I didn’t know you were on my friends list,’ ” Dunn recalled. “The rest is history; we’ve spent almost every day together since.”
The family plans to visit Delaware for a few days soon to see family and retrieve more belongings.
Duncan is still looking for work, and Dunn is looking forward to working overtime once the opportunity becomes available. Their focus, though, is always on their son.
“We have stuff for the baby, and that’s what matters,” Dunn said. “I feel like if she (Bjorkman) didn’t help us when she did, we wouldn’t be in a position where we’re getting back on our feet.”
Duncan works out at the gym in the apartment complex, but most of the couple’s free time is spent cooking and playing with the baby, enjoying their new life and all the firsts that come with raising a child.
The family’s experience over the past few months brought them closer, they said. Dunn said she and Duncan now brainstorm solutions together when problems arise, instead of fighting.
“Looking back, it’s been a crazy journey,” Dunn said. “I feel like it changed me and Murray’s communication — made it a lot stronger.”