Margaret Bradley has been a YWCA Seattle | King | Snohomish supporter since the late 1980’s. A volunteer, Luncheon table captain, donor, and community member, Margaret began volunteering with Pathways for Women long before it became a part of our YWCA.
Pathways for Women is an emergency shelter for single women and mothers with children experiencing homelessness, and is located in Lynnwood. Pathways strives to give all program participants the opportunity to find affordable and safe permanent housing for themselves and their family. Residents have their own apartments during their time at Pathways, and meet regularly with an advocate to develop and execute a Housing Stability Action Plan.
We asked Margaret a few questions about what has inspired her decades-long commitment to YWCA and why she’s continued to stay connected. Read her responses below!
When and why did you become involved with Pathways and YWCA?
I became involved with Pathways in the late 1980’s, before Pathways had merged with YWCA. A group of women bankers I was connected with organized a working women’s clothing drive for the shelter. Later, I was a guest to YWCA’s fundraising luncheon. The following year I became a table captain for the Snohomish County Luncheon. I’ve been a table captain for 24 years. As a member of the Edmonds Chamber of Commerce, I invited friends in the Chamber to join me as guests at the YWCA table. I introduced mayors, police chiefs, builders, CPA’s, attorneys, and many other professionals to YWCA through these luncheons. Some of my guests went on to become table captains themselves. Many of the community leaders were unaware until they attended these lunches of the role YWCA plays in helping homeless women get on their feet.
What is the best part of volunteering at Pathways?
The best part of volunteering at Pathways is seeing our success stories – our former residents – return to give back. I have been a “Girl Friday” at the front reception desk for five and a half years. I answer the phone calls from distressed women seeking shelter, among other duties. [Before] YW is able to find a placement for them, they’ve been homeless, living in cars or on the streets. They arrive looking worse for wear, stressed, and overwhelmed. Once they’ve lived at Pathways for a few weeks, their appearance and demeanor changes. Having the ability to lock their bedroom door, sleep safely, and have a hot daily shower, is transformational. Some train through Bankwork$ or other programs connected to YW to obtain full time jobs. On many occasions when I have been writing a donation receipt, the donor will volunteer, “I used to live here. I am so glad to be able to give back.”
What has been the most important lesson that you’ve learned from your involvement with YWCA?
I guess there are two lessons that resonate for me from volunteering at YW. The first is that women should be very careful about giving up their power. It’s so important to be self-sufficient and walk away from an abusive relationship. So many women give up their jobs or independence to be with a partner. Then they feel helpless to leave when they have no financial means or other support. They often have nothing left except their physical ability to leave.
The second lesson is that people want to help. The YWCA table captain role was initially difficult for me because I was asking my guests to give of their very valuable professional time, as well as money. Without exception, my guests were grateful to be informed of how they could help. They learn YW is more than a shelter, and various ways to support the organization.
The organization is unique to King and Snohomish counties. It helps to break the cycle of abuse, poverty, and dependency, not only for women, but for their children. Guests can often feel helpless, not previously knowing how to help, and are encouraged to see that the YWCA provides a path forward to resilience.
Our theme for the blog this quarter is “resilience.” As an active supporter of Pathways during the pandemic, in what ways did you see the women we serve, YW staff, and our broader community practice resilience?
During the pandemic, the front office area of the Pathways shelter was closed. [However,] the shelter still housed residents. Counselors still worked caseloads. Some worked remotely and some came to Pathways. Those who worked in the shelter followed CDC protocols. I came in occasionally and worked in a different capacity, as the reception area was closed. I supported housing navigators and staff with clerical and administrative support. Employees continued to work compassionately to place and support the YWCA clients. The mission continued.
Thank you for your years of involvement, Margaret! We appreciate all you’ve given to YWCA and our broader community.
If you want to help YWCA Seattle | King | Snohomish remain resilient through the end of this pandemic and beyond, help fund our work by attending our 2021 Virtual Inspire Luncheon: Reclaiming Our Power.
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