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A New Home 9,000 Miles Away

Neighborhood House Helps Family Call Seattle Home

Since 2006, Simon Nakhale and his family played the lottery, the Green Card Lottery. The United States gives 50,000 permanent resident visas to citizens of countries with low immigration rates. In December of 2013, their prayers were answered.

In Nairobi, Kenya, Simon and his wife, Gladys, had respectable jobs. Simon was a trombone player in the military and a skilled carpenter. Gladys taught math, social studies and religion. While their dream of starting a new life in the U.S. was within reach, they had just a few months to pack up everything and everyone.

Along with their four children, aged nine to nineteen, Simon’s family move to the United States, a strange country where they knew just one person, luckily from Seattle.

Upon arrival in Washington, the family struggled to find a place to live. They stayed wherever they could, moving in and out of homeless shelters and friend’s houses. This constant movement made it hard for the couple to find work. After about a month in the U.S., a friend told the Nakhale family about Neighborhood House.

The Good House

Neighborhood House focuses its work on self-sufficiency, financial independence, health and community building. The program, supported by State Farm, program seeks to eliminate or at least reduce poverty in the community, especially in Seattle and King County. Since 1906, they have helped refuges, immigrants, and the poor reach their educational and economic goals.

Empowered Despite the Odds

Neighborhood House helped the Nakhale family find an apartment and assisted with application and deposit costs.

“Having been in the military for so long, our family was not used to living civilian life, so we found ourselves totally overwhelmed with so many choices and places to go in Seattle,” Simon recalled.

Neighborhood House’s Employment Case Manager helped the couple update their resumes and draft cover letters. Gladys desired to continue teaching. Her Employment Case Manager encouraged her to seek volunteer positions to gain experience in American classrooms.

Soon after the 43-year-old began volunteering at a child day care facility, Gladys was offered a paid position. Not too long after that, Simon was able to secure a job as a security guard.

The program also provided the family a financial counselor. They learned about U.S. financial management and websites they could visit to get additional resources. They learned how to call and set up appointments to look at apartments, how to fill out online job applications, and the importance of paying rent on time.

“Most importantly,” said Gladys, “Neighborhood House has stepped in and stood for us while we were trying to establish credit and vouched for us and helped pay our rent.”

Within seven months, both Simon and Gladys had found employment and a place to call home. Today, their focus is on planning for the future. Working with their Employment Case Manager, they are identifying opportunities and trainings to advance in their careers so they can better provide for their children.

Simon calls Neighborhood House his “rescue soldiers,” because the staff know just the right people to contact and they are “efficient at making sure we’re right at home.” -even if that home is 9,000 miles from Nairobi.

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