Curtis was a pastor serving his community just south of Seattle. His ministry was more than a weekly church service. He and his congregation fed the hungry and worked to offer comfort to people experiencing homelessness. Until it happened to him. After a series of health issues, Curtis couldn’t work and couldn’t keep up with the high cost of medical care.  

Curtis found himself on the other side – he was homeless.  

As an Army veteran, Curtis was able to connect with the VA while hospitalized. They referred him to the Compass Center in Pioneer Square. It was a challenge juggling his health issues along with a housing search, but working together, Compass staff found him permanent housing at Compass’s Ronald Commons program in Shoreline. 

With welcoming staff and rent he could afford, Curtis made Ronald Commons his home. 

“This place is like any place you live,” he said, laughing. “Most of the people here are good people, respectful. Some aren’t, but there’s not too much I’ll say about them!” 

Curtis has always been inspired to serve and wanted to give back to his new community.  

“Before I came here, in a different lifetime, I was a pastor,” he said. “We had a Christian school and I used to teach music there. People who study music do better in school. They tend to be more studious, curious, polite, and generally more intelligent. I figured that some adults and maybe some kids might want to learn piano or guitar, so I reached out to my community at Ronald Commons and now a couple of young students are learning to play guitar with me.” 

Curtis originally planned on teaching the basics for about six months, but the students kept improving and asking for more, so he extended his classes. He is now teaching them piano as well! 

“Music is so powerful,” he said. “It can change your life. When I was a pastor and we were doing our worship services, we would open the doors and people would wander in from the bar across the street. They would end up staying and some became regulars, going to church, changing their lives. Music builds community and community is so important. Music can quiet the soul and give you peace of mind.” 

Curtis found peace of mind at Compass. He has a safe community where he is respected, and he has a place where he can continue to address his health issues while building others up at the same time. He has a place to use his gifts to help others. 

Who comes to your mind when you think of those experiencing homelessness? Is it the pastors, immigrants, Veterans, families, teachers, artists, cancer patients, and domestic violence survivors that Compass serves every day? If you believe that these community members deserve an affordable place to call home, please consider making a year-end gift to Compass.  

You’ll be helping people like Curtis recover from their challenges so that they too can give back to their neighbors and make this community we share a better place. 

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