“There is real peace and healing in this place. I hope others can find it here too.”
– Molly Phelps, Martina Apartments Resident

On May 31st, staff and residents of Martina Apartments gathered in their Greenwood rooftop garden with students and teachers from nearby St. John the Evangelist Catholic School and leadership from CCS and CHS to celebrate the anniversary of the new building.

Kevin Hamel, CCS program manager, welcomed all present, thanking each for all they had done to fulfill the Martina’s mission to provide homes for community college students experiencing or at risk of homelessness. He thanked representatives from the St. John the Evangelist parish and school, whose buildings are in view from the rooftop. He introduced the CCS and CHS leadership in attendance, asking Ela Osbourne and Cassie Brown, “the most amazing case managers I could ask for,” to stand up for recognition from the group. Fr. Crispin Achola Okoth, Pastor of St. John’s, opened the prayer service with a resounding “Jambo!”, a Swahili greeting, followed by a reflection of Psalm 127: “Unless the Lord builds a house, the work of the builders is wasted.” He followed his message of thanksgiving with a blessing of the building, its staff and residents, and all who would pass through its doors in the future.

8th graders from St. John the Evangelist School, visible from the Martina’s rooftop garden.

Eighth-graders from St. John’s followed with readings and the prayers of the faithful. Their class began their journey with Martina in 7th grade as part of their year-long Missionary Discipleship curriculum. They were inspired to create Welcome Home baskets, ensuring residents would have everything they needed for a fresh start in their new apartments. St. John students remain connected to Martina residents, helping them move in and observing holidays with gifts and cards. St. John’s chapter of St. Vincent de Paul is always available to Martina case managers to help with supplies and emergency assistance.

Resident Molly Phelps, who has just received her Associate Degree in Fine Arts from North Seattle College, plans to pursue a BS in Graphic Arts. She spoke from her heart as she shared her story:

“When I saw the Martina ad on the North Seattle College website last year, I jumped on it. I love art. I love the art the school children give us at the Martina, like ‘Welcome Home to the Martina!’ when I arrived after couch-surfing for so long!”

“To know that I can come home to my own bed is huge—to have my own space to reflect on my life. Over time I’ve come to embrace who I am — to learn it’s okay to have mental health issues – we each have something as we go. I found it was okay to ask for help and reached out to my case manager; she referred me to the CCS Counseling, Recovery, and Wellness (CREW) program. I have a great counselor; I have made great strides in talking about stuff I buried. It creeps up on us and can manifest in different ways. I found out it’s okay to ask for help. I reallyappreciate and thank everyone here.

“There is real peace and healing in this place. I hope others can find it here too. God wants us to have a life.”

Lauren Pusich, CCS King County Regional Network Builder, closed the service with an invitation to tour the apartments, decorated and furnished thanks to CHS donors, the parishioners at Christ Our Hope and St. Luke’s Parishes, Bishop Blanchet and Seattle Prep High Schools, and the entire St. John the Evangelist community.

The Martina, conceived in response to a sharp increase in student homelessness is a collaboration between CCS, CHS, and the Seattle Housing Authority. Visit our website to learn more the Martina and other CCSWW low-income permanent housing initiatives.

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