IMPORTANT: The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has changed the application process for emergency rental assistance! Click here to learn more
Project Spotlight: City of Homes
Neighborhoods aren’t static—they are constantly changing, often right before our eyes. So what to do when changes aren’t for the better? When houses are let go, not lived in, not cared for? Do you cross the street upon approach? Avert your eyes? Sigh in resignation?
Not if you’re Associate Project Manager Meridith Whippen, a Springfield resident and driving force behind Way Finders’ City of Homes initiative. She’s drawn to properties in distress by the vision of what they could be—to future owners and the greater community.
“Just the other night, I walked my dog a way I don’t often take. And there was a house that is boarded up,” says Meridith. “I was like, ‘I’ve got see what the deal is with this house!’ It doesn’t hurt to ask.”
Hat’s off to 2023 FSS graduate Tia Best
On the day we met up with Tia, assistant manager at two local Subway stores, at our Springfield Housing Center, she was dressed for work. And she was desperately needed at work. But, for this one morning, she said she wasn’t available until after noon. She didn’t want to miss her graduation appointment with FSS Program Specialist Sonia Colon, who came bearing some two checks—a real one and a big photogenic one.
“Oh, my goodness, I can’t believe it. I’ve never had this much money in my hand at one time! This money is financial freedom, to make sure we’re comfortable. So when emergencies come, we don’t have to stress the way we used to.”
Monique’s path to the White House
When Monique Lawson called her kids last fall and asked them to meet her at an address in Springfield, they were skeptical. And a little confused.
“They were like, ‘For what? Whose house is that?’ And I’m like, ‘It’s yours.’ It’s brand new, with a double lot backyard. It’s white and it’s big, I call it the White House! It’s like everything has fallen into place for me this past year. Everything. It’s just exciting. It was just my year.”
Through Way Finders, I got my life back
We’re not just in the housing business, we’re in the hope business. When Lilliya Salem of Springfield wanted to get her life back, Way Finders had what she needed, when she needed it.
“I really find joy and happiness in being able to help somebody, especially somebody who is struggling to recover from addiction. I know what it’s like for people who are in recovery, thinking people will judge you, not knowing what to do next. It’s hard to get your life back. And through Way Finders, I got my life back.”
An inside look at Way Finders’ Competitive Integrated Employment Services (CIES)
At the heart of Way Finders’ Competitive Integrated Employment Services? Listening. And following a client’s lead.
“We look at a client’s background, we look at their interests, we look at what barriers may be in the way of those. And we run with it! They lead, we follow,” says Job Developer Erika Serrano. “We’re there to follow and support our clients. It’s their life and we’re here to help them along their journey.”
Janishka Alvarado of Springfield, who joined the program in 2022, is here for it. All of it! “I love everything, everything. I love Erika. The way she helped me, the way she hears me, the way she talks to me about what may be best for me. I love the way she works with me.”
2022 Way Finders Toy Drive: Making it happen for kids (and their moms)
At our Springfield Housing Center earlier this week, the items we collected for our annual Toy Drive were carefully sorted by age groups—from infant to age 13—and arranged on tables. A big stack of Walmart gift cards for older children was at the ready.
And then our housing case managers arrived to select items for the children on their lists. Housing Case Manager Lisset Lolandes-Acosta came in full costume to ‘shop’ for the families she supports, who are among the more than 700 children living in Way Finders’ Emergency Shelter Programs and other properties.
“Thank you so much, this is absolutely amazing. We are beyond grateful to be able to provide for our families. This time of giving is, for me, so exciting, that’s why I dressed up! So it’s amazing on my end, and it’s amazing on their end. The giving and the receiving.”
Top Way Finders’ moments of 2022
A look at some of Way Finders’ top moments of 2022, including new developments, initiatives, and advocacy efforts.
A granddaughter. An inspector. An Evelyn: Introducing 2022 FSS Program grad Wendy Padilla
“I always feel there’s no job you can’t do when you have children to support,” says 2022 Family Self-Sufficiency Program graduate Wendy Padilla of Springfield. “I would take any job as long as it brought in a paycheck.”
The mother of two grown daughters, who has experience working in retail and the food industry, is raising her five-year-old granddaughter.
Staff Spotlight: Melanie Nunez, Homeownership Advisor
The best kind of coach? Someone you can trust to have a rock-solid gameplan and ready answers. Who can visualize and articulate the path forward. Who shows compassion, especially when you’re down.
There’s a new landlord in Westfield: Introducing first-time homeowner Luz Caballero
In Westfield this Thanksgiving, one extended family will have a special reason to give thanks.
“They can’t wait, everybody keeps calling about coming over!” says new homeowner Luz Caballero, a 2022 graduate of Way Finders’ Family Self-Sufficiency Program. “I said, ‘Let me move in first!’”