SWH Program Manager Donna Hamilton, Case Manager Jessica Stephan, and Resident Services staff Jessica Loyd prepping for the first anniversary courtyard barbecue.

Burgers and hotdogs sizzling on the grill, awesome homemade potato salad, cake, tunes playing on the boombox, checked tablecloths and napkins fluttering in the breeze— the staff and residents of Renton’s 105-unit Sidney Wilson House (SWH) got an early start on summer this year. 

Pulling off a major event like a “first-anniversary” barbecue requires time, planning, and the combined strengths of many people–and the residents and Catholic Community Services (CCS) staff made it happen for the SWH community, men and women who had until recently experienced chronic homelessness in South King County. 

Many residents were referred to SWH, a former extended-stay hotel converted by King County to Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH), by a network of CCS programs. Two friends, Ronee and Misty, met while moving from CCS congregate parish shelters to the transitional hotel housing in SeaTac during COVID. They shared their stories while enjoying lunch outdoors with friends and staff. 

Meet Ronee, an experienced community advocate. 

Staff made sure Ronee had transportation to the SWH barbecue from downtown Seattle.

Ronee prides herself in her ability to advocate for community-building wherever she lives. After moving into SWH, she anticipated summer social opportunities and asked CCSF staff to prioritize the installation of barbecue equipment. The CCS team honored her initiative by sending an Uber to bring her from Seattle to Renton to share in the Memorial Day barbecue fun. 

“I’m a strong person. I bought my own mobile home in 1992 and raised three kids there. My ex-husband and I had a hardwood floor business, and I volunteered for KentHOPE [a Union Gospel Mission outreach program].” In 2018, harassment and poor legal advice led to her losing her home while she attended to the medical needs of her brother and her youngest child, who had just developed a seizure disorder.

Determined and self-reliant, Ronee found locations to live safely in her car, but on an unusually frigid February day in 2019, “I could not get warm, even with all the blankets and my dog.” She turned to the CCS Multi-Service Family Center in Federal Way. They first referred her to parish women’s shelters and then transitional housing during Covid at CCS Sleep Inn on Pacific Highway. Finally, she moved to permanent housing in SWH in March of 2022. 

Meet Misty, a pet lover and potato-salad queen. 

During her journey from living in her car to permanent supportive housing, Ronee befriended Misty, a young woman progressively losing her sight to diabetes. Misty had lost her housing in 2018 and sought help from the CCS Day Center in Federal Way. By the time she got to transitional housing at the CCS Sleep Inn in May 2021, “I was just learning to use my cane. I could not go from my room to the lobby by myself.” 

Misty and special guest Spike enjoy the sunshine at the SWH Anniversary Barbecue!

 An SWH resident since March of 2022, Misty sees supportive housing as another step in her recovery journey. “I’ve made a lot of progress towards my independence. I don’t judge. I have 14 years clean. Believe me, I am grateful to have a home here, but I want something more for me.” She is especially grateful for the SWH policy allowing Spike, a charming chihuahua with a slight harelip, to share her life. Misty contributes to the community, too— she is known for the delectable potato salad she brings to SWH gatherings with the help of Willow, a dear friend she calls her sister. “I make it according to my Grandma’s recipe.”

Misty loves the staff she has met at CCS. She has nothing but praise for the team at the Federal Way Center, including LaVeda, “An amazing woman!”; Taylor at Counseling, Recovery, and Wellness (CReW), “The best!”; and DeRonna, her case manager, “Love that woman to death! She had my back to the fullest. She came with me to the Sleep Inn.” In mock frustration, she adds, “Then, she had to get promoted!” 

And she is equally enthusiastic about the resident staff team at SWH: “Kyle put a smile on my face. When we got here to Sidney Wilson, he spent three hours setting up electronics. When I thanked him, he said, ‘That smile is thanks enough for me!'” About Chris: “His morning attitude—I love it! He’s a ray of sunshine in a dark place.”

Meet Donald, a dedicated volunteer.  

Following the cookout, resident Donny deploys a collection of landscaping tools “to keep the property looking nice,” just one of the many ways he has been helping to spruce up the environment since moving in last year. 

Donny continually takes on the challenging landscape as a resident volunteer.

As he pushes a lawnmower through stubborn tall grass bordering SWH, he struggles with a persistent worry about an unsheltered friend who is especially vulnerable. “She’s a woman, and that makes it more dangerous.” He wishes others still living outside could share his good fortune in having a place to call their own. 

SWH is blessed to have many residents willing to build this young community in many ways. Their efforts, combined with the skills and commitment of CCS staff, are building a culture of compassion, generosity, and mutual respect. Click here for more information about SWH and other CCSWW Permanent Supportive Housing programs. 

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