Hilary was only five months old when her father left, but that didn’t stop her and her mom from making great memories in Puget Sound.
“As a kid, I went to Salty Sea Days, caught 99 cent double features at Everett Theater, jigged for herring off the docks of Marine View, poured over Archie comics at the Everett Comic Book store, and ferried to Hat Island numerous times a year.”
Her mom always made sure the family had a roof over their heads and food on the table, but they did move 10 times in 10 years. So when Hilary and her husband bought a house in 2005, they made a vow to stay put. For a decade life was great — with local jobs in the area they raised a happy, stable family and made time to volunteer with Girl Scouts, soup kitchens and other organizations.
At the end of 2016, Hilary’s youngest daughter answered a knock at the door, and strangers on the front porch informed her they were the home’s new owners.
“For the previous couple years I’d been trying to save our home from foreclosure. My loan kept getting sold and it got confusing and overwhelming sorting all the paperwork,” Hilary explains. “Just a month before the sale I’d met with a foreclosure attorney and made it to the steps of Snohomish County Courthouse to stop the foreclosure. But I overlooked one part of the procedure, and one month later our home was sold. I was devastated and humiliated. We had nowhere to go.”
No shelter, no job, and a family spread apart
“The next year was a blur. We had to send one child to a relative in Lake Stevens and one to a friend’s house in Kirkland. My husband and I stayed in random places.”
The stress of the experience took its toll on everyone in the family, but Hilary was most devastated by its effect on her children. Both of them went to Children’s Hospital for suicide watch within just a few months of each other. She applied for housing from Bellingham to North Dakota, but a year went by with no solutions.
“With no shelter, no car, no phone, no job, and barely any time with my family, I was determined to turn it all around. I just didn’t know how. I worked with WorkSource as much as I could, as well as the family resource centers in Arlington and Lake Stevens,” Hilary says. “We finally got the call that housing was available and moved into our own apartment — together.”
New home, new job, and a family reunited
Hilary appreciated her new healthy environment, surrounded by people who wanted to see her family succeed. They established a new routine, and the support team at Housing Hope checked in regularly, offered solutions and encouragement and gave Hilary the life-changing opportunity to become a landscaper.
“I enrolled in a Ground Works internship even though I had never done landscaping and was terrified of spiders,” she says. “I felt my world shift. When the internship ended, I earned a full-time seasonal position — the first woman in the six years of Ground Works’ existence.”
Housing Hope provides affordable housing and tailored services including life-skills training, childcare and employment services to people in Snohomish County and Camano Island. To donate, visit housinghope.org/donate.
“I thank Housing Hope and HopeWorks for helping me through the dark times, for showing me the power within, and for providing the tools needed mentally and physically to succeed. My kids look up to me and I have more self-respect and a positive outlook on life.”