Neighborhood House
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A studio with a view

When Petra moved from Bulgaria to the United States in 1995, she had several contacts around the country she knew, but not very well.  While they were scattered across the nation, not one was able to offer her a place to stay due to their own challenging living circumstances. Determined not to let that prevent her from living the American dream, she plodded on, and, for the next 14 years, Petra was able to support herself as an interpreter and more recently, as a finance expert working for Holland America.

But then, in 2009, the recession hit and she found herself with little savings and lots of stress.  Just days before Christmas, she found herself “in limbo,” as she calls it, with nowhere to turn, and faced losing her apartment. She had always prided herself in being able to support herself, but in the face of a pending eviction, she became convinced that America “was not kind to single women.” 

But then a friend referred her to Neighborhood House that winter, and it was as though a huge weight had been lifted from her shoulders.

“I felt at home at Neighborhood House,” she said.  “I felt as though they cared and understood the graveness of my situation and really knew what it was like for me to be struggling.”

With the help of a whole team of experts hailing from various Neighborhood House programs  and spearheaded by Grace, an employment specialist, Petra was “rescued” from her pending eviction with the help of Gurey, her housing stability case manager.  Gurey and her team, including Munira and Fartun, secured a tranquil studio for their client on the Bitter Lake shore.  

Ever since Petra moved into her apartment, she’s been getting career advice and assistance from Jody, Naima and Treela, who have helped her navigate through different job sites and update her resume and cover letter using the Rainier Vista computer lab.  The Neighborhood House staffers who Petra has worked with also encouraged her to obtain a Healthcare Interpreter Training certificate from Highline College, which has added to her arsenal of skills as she seeks for and applies to different positions in her field.  And her ability to speak and understand German, Russian, and English, in addition to her native Bulgarian, only help her in her quest to become a medical interpreter. 

Petra said she’s become very close to the staff during this challenging period.  “I feel like they have adopted me.  Their optimism and positive attitudes have really helped me in finding a job.”

From her window, Petra has a bird’s eye view of the water lilies and resident geese and birds that take shelter on the lake.  And her cat, Sidney Bernstein, seems to love the locale too, and can often be found napping in the sun on her balcony.  It’s a beautiful scene in any language.