At the YWCA, we aim to give opportunity and agency to the women who find shelter here.

All testimonials are anonymous and are permitted to be shared:

I think about the LONG journey I’ve embarked on over the past six years. Circumstances beyond my control left me sleeping on icy doorways and finding blessed places like the [Lighthouse Mission] to get me temporarily out of the cold. I slept on so many couches that I would wake up taking a full three minutes just to look about, get my bearings, and figure out where in the world I was.

I was fortunate enough to have someone give me their late father’s old car, so I at least had a roof over my head and a bit more warmth. I volunteered for a couple of churches, teaching Sunday school and, through those connections, I got warm socks, a sleeping bag, and a multitude of other gifts, not to mention a circle of loving, supportive, people who cared.

Now, I’m not complaining about my struggles. Struggle and strife come before success, even in the dictionary. All of the people I met, all the experiences I had, shaped me and bolstered my understanding and empathy (not sympathy) of and with others. It has shown me the kindness and strength that exist within the human spirit. It has shown me that often times those that have the least give the most.

What my story is leading to is the gift of my salvation through the YWCA. When I was finally afforded the opportunity to live within the comforting shelter of the Y, I felt like I was in heaven and it gave me great hope. I have a bed to stretch my legs out on, a window to open and close, facilities to utilize, a kitchen to cook in, and a fellowship of women to confide in and find strength with.

Now, I have my own room in a safe place where my feet can actually begin to become planted on the ground. It has allowed me to begin to work at, for now, short-term jobs — but that is leagues beyond what I was able to practically do without a home.

I know this is a temporary living situation. However, it is giving me the foundation to establish a more stable, permanent situation for myself. The YWCA has absolutely improved my life and opened up a plurality of possibilities for myself and others. Most of all, it has given me faith, optimism, and hope for the future.”

“In June of ’18 I was the victim of [sexual assault] . I couldn’t stay in my hometown because my attacker was capable of finding me. I couldn’t tell anyone in my family except my daughter. I felt it was easier to sleep in my car than to stay and fear for me and my family’s safety. I stayed at my son’s until it started to affect his housing; that was the beginning of trying to find safe places to sleep.

I spent several sleepless nights being afraid. One of those nights a sheriff came to where I was sleeping – it was behind a place where SWAT practiced. This officer told me about the YWCA and how they help women like me. I went the next day. That was in July, and by August I was in a room at the YWCA around many women that were going through the same things as myself.

For the first time in months I felt safe. I slept for twelve hours straight the first night. As I got to know everyone, the staff was there for me as if I was family, and as time went on that’s what I felt – like I had a family’s support. I went from nothing to now knowing I want to work with homeless women. I have watched how hard [the] staff works to find housing for the elderly who have slipped through cracks that need special care, both mentally and physically, and people who couldn’t be responsible for themselves anymore. The YWCA has taken these women and found them housing that fit their individual needs. I have such respect for each and every one of the staff. I was asked to fill out an exit survey about my time there, and it was so much more than their survey. Yes, I used the [Back to Work] Boutique and all the programs, but in my situation the YWCA was the stepping stone to housing, my moral support, and my family. To each of you, I thank you. There is no way I could have done it without you.”

When I think about my experiences at the YWCA, I always go back to “HOPE: Hold On, Pain Ends”. My first time at the YWCA about three years ago, I was heartbroken, homeless, and had no real connection to the outside world. YWCA came to me and wrapped me in their arms and showed me I can survive without a man. I learned communication skills while at the YWCA—my first time at a place only for women. I got an apartment through my mental health program. It was going good for me, but then my daughter came back into my life and I chose being homeless over leaving my, now adult, child. I just couldn’t do it.

After two years of being homeless in my car or in a tent, I got the call from YWCA saying they had openings. So now I have my own room and I pay rent. For many years I lacked hope for so long. YWCA has helped me fuel my calling in life by simply [allowing me to be] myself. The Staff at the YWCA actually sit down and listen to me as a person; helped me in my path of life. I struggled for years to stay clean and sober and now that I’m a grandma, I really want to be set free from my addictions. [Our Housing Director] is like a guardian angel for the YWCA. She is one of my big supporters and she actually, truly cares for us women.

So when I think about my life now, I choose HOPE. Thank you, YWCA for being a safe, positive place for women.” 

“I would like to thank the YWCA for helping me in my time of need.

I thought I would be homeless while continuing to treat my medical problems that were very life threatening. I spent over 2 months in hospitals and another month in nursing homes. My problem was undiagnosed COVID syndrome for eight months, in which time holes appeared in my organs in my upper GI. By the time a different physician and my cardiologist saw that something serious was going on, it was nearly too late.

I was flown off from Friday Harbor to Bellingham on December 21st 2021, and the prognosis was grave – not supposed to survive. I had been given transfusions before my flight to Bellingham and when I arrived, and emergency surgery was performed to cauterize the smaller holes and insert clips to the larger holes. Then I had to wait to have sufficient blood and kidney function to have three heart surgeries and procedures.

All this time, while not in hospitals, I was allowed to stay at the YWCA because this illness took away my ability to work any longer; so I had to live on social security alone – not even enough to pay rent […].

It is my feeling that the YWCA saved my life, because I was given 3 to 5 months to live without the cardiac surgery, and 8 to 10 years with the cardiac surgery. I would have opted out of the surgery had it not been for the YWCA and its amazing staff. I was not really ready to die, because I had a lot of business to complete to get my affairs in order before I died.

Thank you, YWCA.”