Testimonials and Stories
Anabel is a first grader, enrolled in New Futures’ after-school
program.Bright and sweet, when Anabel first arrived at New Futures
she had extremely low self esteem. Her school teachers were worried
by Anabel’s negative feeling about herself, because they kept her from
improving, or trying new things.
Anabel was often heard saying “I can’t…” before every new
task.Even though she had made many improvements in her reading since
enrolling in the after-school program, she would still say, “I can’t read.”
New Futures paired Anabel with a gentle and committed tutor. Anabel’s
tutor gave Anabel her full attention, praised her for trying new things, and
complimented her improvements in reading. Anabel now takes risks, and
is reading with confidence. Anabel has also ceased saying what the kids
call the “c” word: can’t.
New Futures pairs children with caring, compassionate adults, and
allows children like Anabel to see themselves in new, positive ways. Because
we believe in a world where children have the support and
encouragement to change “I can’t” into “I can.”
Daniel was having a terrible time in fourth grade. He could
only read first grade books. A highly energetic student, he also had trouble
focusing in class. To make matters worse, he was being taunted by his
classmates for his creativity.
Daniel’s mom was struggling, too. Recently divorced because of
domestic violence incidents, the family’s resources were very limited. Daniel
had to share the household’s only winter coat with his sister.
Daniel’s mother heard about New Futures from a neighbor, and enrolled
Daniel in our After School Program. His tutor was a patient high school girl
who lives in the same apartment complex. The pair had Daniel reading at
grade level by the end of the year.
With the chance to explore his creative side without judgment, Daniel
thrived. And, some of the boys who taunted Daniel enrolled in a New Futures
hip-hop dance class so New Futures staff was able to intervene and help
resolve the conflict.
Daniel’s mother also worked with our staff for help with translating and other
services. Through New Futures she has become part of a community task
force that is finding solutions to a mold problem in the apartments.And,
finally, a New Futures Family Advocate gave Daniel’s mom a gift card
so Daniel could have his very own winter coat.
The counselor at Bow Lake Elementary School called New Futures for
translation assistance. One of her students was turning paper clips into
weapons. She wanted to speak with his parents, but she found out when
she called them at home that they did not speak any English.
The counselor arranged for a New Futures Family Advocate to attend
a meeting with the family. Together, they learned that Mohammed and his
parents had recently arrived in Seattle from East Africa. At home with his
family, he was a kind and mild-mannered child. At school, with no friends
and minimal English skills, Mohammed struggled to get along and
turned his frustration towards other students.
The Family Advocate worked with both the counselor and the family to
create a solution. To build a more comfortable environment for Mohammed,
his mother would sit at the back of his classroom one or two days a week.
The counselor also asked his teacher to seat him with another Somali child
so that he would have a buddy. For support with schoolwork, he was enrolled
in New Futures’ After School Program.Mohammed has now made friends
with some of his classmates at school and his behavior and academic
skills continue to improve in leaps and bounds.
The Family Advocate also helped Mohammed’s mother win a
scholarship to beauty school, after which she found a job as a beautician.
The money from her job has been essential for her family’s welfare in this
economically turbulent time. Her experience with New Futures was
so deeply positive that she has since referred many friends and
neighbors to our site, and she continues to increase our reputation in
Gretchen was not a good student. She was bright, but never
turned in homework or followed through with her assignments and projects.
In addition, she was disruptive in class, and her teacher worried that if
Gretchen’s work habits didn’t change, she was likely to fail.
At home, though supportive and loving, Gretchen’s mother has had
severe problems with depression and anxiety.
Concerned about their daughter’s success in school, Gretchen’s
family came to New Futures, where we connected them with two dynamic
community volunteers, who patiently and methodically began tutoring
Not long after Gretchen began working with her tutors, her teacher
was overjoyed to have Gretchen turn in a beautiful report on Chile, on the
day it was due. Gretchen in turn felt the pride and satisfaction that comes
from doing a great job. Weeks later, her teacher informed us that
Gretchen now turns in all of her assignments on time.
In addition, our Family Advocate was able to link Gretchen’s mother to
counseling services. Now Gretchen’s mother is doing much better, and she
says she is far more able to cope with her responsibilities.
Both her parents and teacher remark that Gretchen’s behavior has
markedly improved. Gretchen’s mother attributes this improvement
in her daughter’s behavior and school work to the help New Futures
gave in lessening stress in her home, school and life.
Yvonne and Charles
Yvonne, her husband Charles, and their four daughters had been
living at Vintage Park for a while when two of the daughters began attending
the After School Program. The family had gone from crisis to crisis,
and soon after they started working with New Futures, the family
suffered a great loss when the family’s eldest daughter passed away
New Futures was able to help coordinate raising funds for the funeral
and provide structure, routine and loving support for the two girls in the
program. In addition, a Family Advocate met with the family at least weekly
to provide emotional support, help the family provide for their basic needs,
and discuss how the death of the oldest sibling was affecting the younger
three children and how to approach these issues with the children.
Yvonne was pregnant at the time and understandably became quite
depressed over the loss of her child. With the help of New Futures,
she was able to realize she needed support to grieve and went to a
bereavement group and continued attending a supportive church.
The family decided to move out of Vintage Park and into a house
before Yvonne’s last baby (another daughter) was born. At the beginning
of this school year Vintage Park received a phone call from Yvonne and her
husband Charles. They recounted how well the family is doing living in a
house. Charles is, for the first time, training for an employment program as a
housing inspector and Yvonne is working at a fast food restaurant. They say
they are tired of being dependent on DSHS and are enjoying the process of
becoming independent. Their four daughters are doing very well and want to
come back to the After School Program for a visit. They were extremely
thankful for the support they received from New Futures and decided
they couldn’t have moved toward greater self-sufficiency and
contentment without the once-needed help.
Cecilia found herself in a difficult position only a few months ago.
She was making very low wages and could not afford to pay her rent. Some
friends had allowed Cecilia and her two young children to stay in their home,
but she did not want to overstay her welcome. Cecilia knew she needed
stable housing for her family and a better job to pay the bills. She came to
New Futures for assistance. Our Family Advocate worked with Cecilia to map
out a plan for her to successfully support her family on her own.
The Family Advocate encouraged Cecilia to pursue schooling to
improve her chances of obtaining a job with higher pay. The Advocate
assisted Cecilia with getting childcare assistance from DSHS and informed
her that this would be a good route for Cecilia as she could receive assistance
from DSHS and go to school at the same time. Cecilia soon after enrolled at
Seattle Vocational Institute and began studying to become a dental assistant.
The Family Advocate also helped Cecilia apply for low income housing and
Cecilia now has her own apartment to house her family.
Cecilia is almost done with her training and the Family Advocate is
working with her to arrange for an internship at a local hospital. We often
see Cecilia and her children at community events and activities with warm,
smiling faces. With the support of New Futures, Cecilia is confident she can
take care of her family with the plans for self-sufficiency she has made.
Unexpectedly, Irina’s husband was laid off. Her family was behind
on rent and could barely afford to feed their kids. The apartment
manager was ready to evict them.
Irina’s family urgently needed help from the state’s Department of
Social and Human Services (DSHS), but they had just cut off her benefits.
Irina sent every form that DSHS requested, but they still said no. As a
recent Russian immigrant, she spoke very little English and couldn’t figure
out what she had done wrong. Irina felt like she had no friends or family
to turn to for help.
A New Futures Family Advocate helped her explain to DSHS that
everything had been sent in, but perhaps the forms got lost in the mail.
The case worker invited Irina and our Advocate to bring in copies, and
they re-opened her case on the spot. With help from New Futures,
Irina was able to pay rent and buy groceries that day.
DSHS also offered Irina child care if she went to English as a
Second Language (ESL) classes and joined the WorkFirst program to
find a job. Irina immediately enrolled in an ESL class at South Central
Community College, and she and her husband soon found work.
With Irina’s family back on track, she wanted to give back to her
community and the New Futures site that helped her succeed. She and
her two children come to monthly “Family Time” events at our site,
where they spend quality time working on projects with neighbors. Irina
volunteers with us to help other families in her complex, and her
translation services helped one struggling family enroll their child
into our after-school program. With Irina’s support, her neighbors will
be able to change their own lives like she has.
Weathering the Storm
Community is often invisible on a day-to-day basis, but in times of
emergency it becomes palpable – and essential. In December 2006, the
Seattle area was hit with record breaking storms, and a million homes
around the region were left without power. Families in our complexes
were among those who found themselves in the dark and the cold.
Neighbors and New Futures staff members were quick to lend helping
hands. Staff called to check on families, and if phone lines were out, knocked
on doors. Power returned by Monday to two of our sites, but some families
at our SeaTac site were without power until Wednesday.Families, who
were already struggling to make ends meet, lost all the food in their
refrigerators and freezers. Oddly, the community center in SeaTac did
have some power, so staff cooked a hot meal to share, and also bought
food families could take back home. Some homes that did have power
welcomed neighbors to come over for showers or to get warm. And everyone
made sure that people knew not to bring outdoor grills inside for warmth or
cooking, as one family had before being alerted to the danger.
As all of us in the Puget Sound region realized clearly after the power
outages, sometimes the most precious things in the world can be a hot meal,
a caring neighbor, and a chance to get warm. New Futures was honored
to be a part of ensuring the families we serve were warm, nourished
Celebrating Mother’s Day
Mother’s Day is a big deal at schools in Mexico, where each class
presents traditional dances for the parents, people bring food, and children
work to make presents for their mothers.
When The Heights at Burien staff first saw how Mother’s Day was
celebrated at the schools here in Burien, they were disappointed, and missed
the lively celebration from home. Residents from Mexico, who make up over
70% of the residents at the Heights at Burien, felt the same way.
In response, parents, teachers and New Futures staff collaborated to
create the Mother’s Day celebration. Parent prepared diverse regional foods.
Community members helped set up. The children and New Futures’ staff
presented dances, and then parents and adults stayed to dance all evening.
New Futures staff also collected items for a raffle to be able to give presents
to some of the moms, as is traditional in Mexico.
Bringing something that people missed from home and honoring
mothers is only part of why New Future’s Mother’s Day celebration is
important. The party is also the only chance for many parents, who work
during times that meetings are scheduled, or don’t have access to evening
childcare, to meet their children’s administrators and teachers.
And it is important not to disregard the feeling of community and joy
that paying tribute to residents’ home culture brings. As a staff member
noted, “You can’t imagine how special it is to see our kids dancing our
regional dances for us.”
Hamila and Lisa
Halima, a new community member at Windsor Heights, originally from West
Africa, recently discovered New Futures and her family immediately became
involved in a variety of programs. Halima, who had recently had a baby,
expressed interest in getting exercise, but was isolated and didn’t know
anyone else in the community.
Another Windsor Heights’ resident, Lisa, is a volunteer with New Futures’
After School Program. Lisa suffers from epilepsy and a variety of other
medical ailments. Normally, Lisa is a gregarious person who loves to be
outdoors, but her medical problems had begun to cause bouts of depression,
and she was lonely.
New Futures Family Advocate saw an opportunity to help both women,
and connected Halima and Lisa to one another. The two women have since
became walking partners and, more importantly, friends.