Paula, an Iraq war veteran, never thought she would be homeless. She was a military veteran, married 16 years, with a beautiful daughter.
And then things changed. A divorce, a bad relationship, the death of her parents and no one she could turn to . . . it just kept coming. Paula says she now knows it really can happen to anyone.
She and her daughter Alayla moved into a hotel for a few days. When they ran out of money, Paula was scared. Searching the internet, she found a number for Mary’s Place, and she reached out.
“When you’re in a hotel, no one cares,” the north Seattle mother says. “No one knows that you’re there. No one cares for you. You’re alone. I’m so grateful for Mary’s Place, not only the roof over our heads, but all the resources and staff that care that we’re here, asking what they can do to help.”
After months of COVID-related government closures, Paula and Alayla finally were able to use a Veterans Administration voucher to find a home. They are starting over together.
A return to holiday traditions
Paula is excited to continue a holiday tradition from her childhood in their new home. They’ll spend Christmas Eve baking cookies for Santa, then prepare and share a dinner of their favorite foods. Having set cookies out for Santa, they’ll go for a walk in the neighborhood to look at the holiday lights. While they’re out, Santa will come eat the cookies, drink the milk, and leave presents under the tree – including a special family ornament that’s symbolic of the year they’ve had together.
Alayla loves her new home and is excited for the holidays – At the end of October she already had a spot in the living room where the Christmas tree will go picked out and knows just how she wants to decorate it.
Truly our place
“Sometimes I sit on my couch, and I look around at this place and see how happy Alayla is, and I want to pinch myself,” Paula says, “It’s like a dream. This is truly our place. We did it, we’re home.”
More on Seattle Child:
“Holidays 2022: Lights, lights, lights”