This post is sponsored by Comcast; as always, all opinions are my own.
The holiday season is a time to reflect on the many things we have to be thankful for – and as we enjoy our warm homes and time with family, we also remember those that are not as fortunate and take time to share what we have. In the spirit of the holidays, Comcast Washington has launched a Neighborhood Season of Giving campaign to support Mary’s Place, an organization that works to help local women, children and families transition out of homelessness. In addition to contributing $250,000 to Mary’s Place, Comcast has also launched a clothing drive to help families in our community stay warm this winter. The initiative launched on Monday at the new Northgate Mall Xfinity store, where I was privileged to meet the inspirational Mary’s Place team, learn more about the issue of homelessness and participate in the clothing drive.
Comcast & Mary’s Place: A Natural Partnership
The collaboration between Comcast and Mary’s Place was kismet. One of Comcast’s offices in Seattle is located right across the street from Mary’s Place, and four years ago, the branch employees got together and decided to start a donation drive for their neighbors. What began as a small group of Comcast employees volunteering for Mary’s Place has snowballed into a huge initiative: Diem Ly, the Comcast Washington Community Impact Director, told me that she and her team speak with Mary’s Place two or three times each month to discuss what the greatest needs are in the community, and how Comcast can most effectively help. Because access to technology is such a crucial resource to help families out of homelessness, this was a perfect opportunity for Comcast to make a difference through its Internet Essentials program, culminating in a $250,000 contribution to Mary’s Place that will support the development of a computer lab where women and families at Mary’s Place emergency family shelters will be able to access technology and learn valuable skills.
A $250,000 Contribution to Help Bridge The Digital Divide
Closing the “Digital divide” is a crucial piece in addressing the vast issue of homelessness. Since so many schools are extremely lacking in STEM programs, children from low-income households are often getting left behind their peers in learning the technology skills that are absolutely necessary in today’s workplace. In a world where waiters now take your order on an iPad, tech skills have become ubiquitous in most jobs, making it even more difficult for some of those experiencing homelessness to obtain employment. Comcast’s contribution will provide much-needed equipment and Internet access to facilitate vital job readiness training through digital literacy and coding classes that will be taught at Mary’s Place by volunteers. This technology will also remove other barriers for residents, helping them access various resources and move into stable housing.
The Real Face of Families Experiencing Homelessness
It’s all too easy to dismiss homelessness as something that happens to “Other people”. But this is not just a problem for those with mental health or substance use issues – in reality, almost anyone could lose housing in a crisis. How would you pay your mortgage if you suddenly lost your job? What would happen if your child became seriously ill? Many of us take for granted that we have a solid support network of family and friends who would never let us end up on the streets – but sadly, so many others are not as lucky as us. For example, up to 36% of children who grow up in foster care become homeless once they age out of the system; and those fleeing domestic violence are also at high risk, with studies showing that over 80% of mothers with children experiencing homelessness have also experienced domestic violence. These women and children didn’t do something “Wrong” to create their situation, and desperately want to improve their lives. That’s where organizations like Mary’s Place provide a crucial lifeline.
During the kick-off event for the Neighborhood Season of Giving campaign, I had the great pleasure of hearing a success story from a very inspirational woman named Norah. She grew up in the foster care system and experienced many trials and tribulations during her early life, including having a child at 16. A few years ago, Norah experienced homelessness and found herself couch surfing while her children stayed with family and friends. Through programs like Mary’s Place, she got the guidance and assistance she needed, including clothes for job interviews and access to computers to look for work. This enabled her to get a job with Comcast, where she says that she was greeted with open arms despite not having a permanent address at the time. Norah is a perfect example of how these initiatives empower families with the basic tools they need to change their lives.
You have to have somebody in your corner, you can’t do it alone. It takes a village – and thankfully, Mary’s Place can be that village.” -Norah
Winter Clothing Drive: How You Can Help
The kick-off event ended with Comcast loading up the Mary’s Place truck with 50 bags of clothing that were donated as part of the Neighborhood Season of Giving initiative. And to help faciliate even more donations, Comcast are hosting a clothing drive at their Northgate Mall Xfinity store through January 6th, 2019. So while you’re wrapping up your holiday shopping at the mall, don’t forget to grab some socks or mittens and donate them at the Xfinity store on your way out! Warm clothing is requested and will greatly help families experiencing homelessness during the cold winter months. Professional attire is also welcomed, and will be distributed to people just like Norah to help them dress for success as they attend job interviews. The new Xfinity store is located at:
Comcast Xfinity Retail Store at Northgate Mall
401 NE Northgate Way, #400A
Seattle, WA 98125
Located between Macy’s and Red Robin.
To learn more about the work that Mary’s Place does, please visit MarysPlaceSeattle.org; and you can get more information about Comcast’s Internet Essentials program by visiting InternetEssentials.com.