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Jacquie helps save lives while 'taking her life back'

Equipped with many years of experience as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA), Jacquie left Dallas in the fall of 2015 for a fresh start in Seattle where she knew the healthcare field was booming. What she didn’t realize was that her training and credentials were not transferable to Washington state and would be considered invalid. Unable to get a job to help pay for an apartment, Jacquie’s savings quickly evaporated and she became homeless.

She was scared. She didn’t know anyone in Seattle, she had never been homeless before, and she didn’t know where to go. Jacquie was able to find temporary housing in a shelter, but the arrangement was less than ideal. She was only allowed to stay at the shelter at night and had to share a small space with many other women. On top of that, the shelter required her to pay a fee.

But it did give her a list of resources to keep her busy during the day, which is where she spotted the WorkSource Connection site at YWCA’s Opportunity Place in downtown Seattle. From her first visit, she found the front desk at WorkSource to be very helpful, and she began visiting daily in search of job opportunities.

Then one day, as Jacquie was looking through information at the WorkSource front desk, she overheard a woman checking in. The woman mentioned that she had an appointment with Neighborhood House and that they were going to help her with bus vouchers and housing assistance. “I need those too” Jacquie said to herself, and as soon as the woman left, Jacquie walked over to the front desk staff and asked how she could get help from Neighborhood House.

Fortunately, Neighborhood House Employment Specialist Kamaria Al-Harazi worked at the WorkSource Connection site in YWCA’s Opportunity Place and Jacquie was able to meet with her the very next day. After their meeting, Kamaria advised Jacquie on what she needed to do to get back on her feet. Jacquie didn’t miss a beat - she quickly followed every suggestion Kamaria made and visited regularly in case new opportunities arose. While the advice was helpful, what Jacquie really appreciated was the support that Kamaria provided which helped her overcome feelings of disappointment and frustration when things didn’t happen as planned.

Kamaria helped Jacquie access resources so that she could get CNA certified in Washington, including licensing, lab tests, and fingerprinting, and helped Jacquie find work at a medical staffing agency which placed her at a local hospital. This was a great opportunity for Jacquie because in addition to finally being able to work and have an income, it also allowed her to build relationships with hospital staff, making her more competitive for future job openings there.  To make sure she’d be successful in her new position, Kamaria helped Jacquie get an ORCA card and uniforms. This one-on-one support and connection to resources made Jacquie feel like she finally had the tools and support she needed to be successful.

But Kamaria knew that the only way for Jacquie to be able to keep her job was for her to have safe, permanent housing. Kamaria connected Jacquie to Neighborhood House’s Housing Stability team and within two months, Jacquie moved into a brand new apartment. Always looking out for her clients, Kamaria made sure that Jacquie was able to get free furniture for her new home and continues to work with Jacquie to plan for the next steps in her career.

Jacquie is determined never to be homeless again and says that her future goals are to stay focused and keep advancing her career. She also wants to make sure that her friends at the shelter who were also struggling with homelessness were able to access help and has connected many of them to Kamaria so they can start their own journey to rebuild their lives.

When asked what advice she would give others struggling with similar situations, she said “There are so many resources here to help you. I know it’s stressful but stay focused. You don’t have to stay homeless. Use the resources available to you.”

Jacquie’s positive and hopeful attitude shines through when talking with her. “This is a dream for me,” said Jacquie. “I have the freedom to enjoy myself. Having this help allowed me to do this because now I’m able to save money. I’m taking my life back.”