We have the privilege of working with some truly amazing people. It never ceases to amaze us the level of strength and resilience members of our Compass community display when overcoming life’s unexpected challenges. Melvin is a testament to that incredible strength and perseverance.

Melvin lost his father at a young age, and it turned his world upside down. He was 14 and didn’t have the skills or the support he needed to understand his grief, so he started using substances to cope.

Years later, after wandering from state to state, he landed with his remaining relatives, but he couldn’t stay; he wasn’t ready. He found himself dropped off in Seattle with little to show for himself.

“It was hard to go from place to place, trying to get help when you knew that you might have to sleep outside night after night,” he said. “You didn’t know who you could trust or where you could keep your stuff. You get good at finding abandoned places.”

It was during this time that Melvin learned about Compass Housing Alliance. He heard it was a place where you could shower, get out of the heat or cold, get your mail, and not be judged. It was an encouraging and positive place. He started using our hygiene center and getting his mail, but he was still working through the trauma of living outside. He left the city.

Years later, Melvin found himself living outside, homeless, tentless, lying on a tarp in the “middle of nowhere,” and losing hope when he suddenly felt inspired.

“Something told me that I didn’t belong out here anymore,” he said. “I needed to make a change. I’ve lived outside on and off for years, and something told me to come back to Compass Housing Alliance.”

Thinking back to how he was treated, Melvin knew Compass would be an accepting place.

“When I got back, they recognized me from before,” Melvin said. “Compass welcomed me and made me feel like I belonged. This time, I was ready for a real change. I was ready to have that stability. I was done wandering.”

He worked with his case manager and quickly found permanent housing at Compass’s Ronald Commons.

“Living in a place like Ronald Commons changed my life,” he said. “I had a safe place to live. It was the first time in years that I didn’t have to look over my shoulder. It was a long journey, but now I get to come home every day.”

Melvin, now stably housed, wanted to give back to others. He applied for a position at Compass Housing Alliance in the same hygiene center he used years before. He was a perfect fit and now spends his days getting people the care and basic dignity he himself experienced. He shares his story with our guests and remains a listening, sympathetic ear for those fighting the same challenges he once fought.

He has come full circle and is moving forward.

People like Melvin wander into our care daily, and we accept them as they are, wherever they are in their journey. Sometimes, it is an introduction. Sometimes, it is a welcoming home. But without your continuing support, we couldn’t provide the care and shelter our guests and residents need.

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