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News

October 16, 2023

A portrait in perseverance: Jessica Perella, UMass class of 2023

When 2023 UMass Amherst graduate Jessica Perella received the Perseverance Award from the university’s Sustainable Community Development program, she felt seen. And with encouragement from her mentor at Way Finders’ Self Sufficiency Program, she wants to be heard, too. 

“That’s right, they saw me! I may procrastinate. But I will never stop. My time at UMass restored things that I lost maybe, from choices I made prior. My confidence and belief in myself grew. Sometimes people feel embarrassed or shame about things they go through. But we’re all here on this earth, we all face something. If no one talks about it, you feel like you’re the only one. But when you voice it, other people can find a strength in your story, that’s what I hope for by sharing mine.”

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September 27, 2023

Advocating for Legislation: Housing Bond Bill priorities of the Western Massachusetts Housing Coalition

Motels have long had the right idea: A brightly illuminated “Vacancy” or “NO Vacancy” sign immediately lets travelers know if there’s rest within reach or miles to go before they sleep.

But when an entire region has “NO Vacancy”? When demand for housing greatly exceeds supply in every city and town? Things are not clear. There’s no glowing sign. There’s just struggle after struggle, as we see each day, among those who want to stay. Who don’t want to hit the road and relocate. But who can’t find affordable housing. 

The only way forward? Build our way forward. The upcoming Housing Bond Bill can help us do just that.

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September 13, 2023

Raise your hand if you can be counted on: Introducing resident leader Marta Alvarez

Introducing Board member Marta Alvarez, a resident of Way Finders’ Olympia Oaks community in Amherst since it opened in 2014.

In 2018, when Way Finders sought new members for its Board of Directors, Alvarez was nominated by a staff member. She was excited by the opportunity to engage with, and represent, her community in this new way. In her words:

“I’m honored to be a member of the Board. Because the other members listen when I give my opinion and comments. It’s not, ‘Well, we do these types of projects all the time and we’re not interested in how tenants feel about it.’ No, they’re concerned about our communities from a resident’s side. It’s a good space for the members to hear a resident’s side of a project or proposal.”

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September 8, 2023

The only thing better than being given a chance? Being given a second chance.

The only thing better than being given a chance? Being given a second chance. Meet Adlin Villalba, a 2023 graduate of Way Finders’ Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) Program.

“My first time in the program, I didn’t graduate. But here I am! I’m so happy I was allowed to join it again. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be here telling my story. 

“My kids don’t know about my big day! I wanted to surprise them. I think I’ll say, ‘Hey, let’s go out to eat! Olive Garden? On the Border?’ They’ll probably be like, ‘Mom, what’s going on? Are you pregnant?’ You know, I’ve made a lot of mistakes, I’ve disappointed my kids sometimes in the past. With this surprise, I want to be able to say, ‘Boom! I did this, you guys! I worked hard, I put my all into it.’ I’m happy today. I’m very excited.”

Boom. You did it, Adlin! Congratulations. 

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August 23, 2023

Introducing Way Finders’ newest education for the community: Housing Search Workshop

When Director of Homelessness Prevention Services Ruth Vasquez started at Way Finders in 2013, she answered a lot of phone calls. One still haunts her.

“A girl received a notice to quit [a letter from a landlord asking a tenant to correct a lease violation or move out]. When she didn’t move out, the landlord locked her out. She was afraid, so she took her things, turned in her keys. Then she was homeless, bouncing with nowhere to stay. She didn’t know that she wasn’t supposed to move out—that the only person who can evict you is a judge from housing court. Not a landlord.”

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August 16, 2023

Pushing forward through challenges: Meet mental health clinician Mandy

“Way Finders helped me to rebuild my life,” said Mandy, a mental health clinician whose name has been changed to maintain confidentiality. “I grew up in Springfield, and after high school graduation everything was nice.

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July 26, 2023

Turning the corner on housing instability, finding peace and possibilities

What does it feel like to turn the corner on housing instability? After years of constant moving—among family, friends, shelter—and trying to do the right things, always, to keep from being asked to leave. What does it feel like to be free of that weight?

We asked Amanda, who recently moved out of a Way Finders’ shelter and is part of our Employment Support Services program: “I’m doing well, feeling good! Just feeling more at peace with everything, like I can finally put down my coat, take off my shoes. We finally have somewhere to rely on, not someone. I mean, I still have worries, that’s just natural for me. But they’re lighter.”

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June 23, 2023

one-stop digital literacy class for older adults: “it’s about respect for your elders”

Imagine if you didn’t feel comfortable hopping online—for answers, connections, resources. Imagine if you had to rely on someone else to place an online order, complete an application, or make a Telehealth appointment. For many older adults, such digital exclusion isn’t fantasy. It’s everyday life. 

Not so anymore for participants of Way Finders’ recent Digital Literacy Class, offered in partnership with Tech Goes Home and LISC Boston. The effort builds on our Flexing Civic Muscle program, funded since 2019 by Point32Health Foundation. Over four weeks, the class learned to email, navigate the internet, create passwords, make video calls, create documents, and more. Each participant also walked away with a free Chromebook, case, headphones, and mouse. 

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June 23, 2023

“Hats off to you!”

When longtime Way Finders’ supporter Dianne Fuller Doherty and her late husband Paul Doherty were starting out in life, the housing landscape was much different than it is today. But one piece of the housing equation that has not changed? The need for education for first-time homebuyers. 

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June 22, 2023

Advocacy on Air: Keith Fairey and Senator John Velis

If housing were a puzzle, there would be a lot of pieces in its box. Could I talk for an hour about the complexities and challenges, nuances and solutions? Absolutely! I recently had the pleasure of doing just that during a TV appearance on the “Beacon Hill to the 413 with your State Senator John C. Velis” program. 

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