It’s been a decade since Michael and his five children moved into the Riverwalk complex owned by SNAP in northeast Spokane.
At the time of the transition, the family knew little of permanence. Seeking shelter wherever they could find it – a hotel here, a relative’s home there – Michael and his children had become wanderers with portable roots.
“It was pretty stressful,” Michaels recalls. “We were just trying to find some stability and it was tough.”
Michael had known uncertainty himself as a kid, growing up with an alcoholic, abusive father, he fled home at the age of 12.
“I wanted a better life for my kids,” Michael said.
One day, a friend told Michael about SNAP and how they may be able to help. It didn’t take long before he had an appointment with a counselor at the agency’s Homeless Services office.
The Riverwalk complex, located in a quiet neighborhood near the banks of the Spokane River, turned out to be a welcome sanctuary for Michael and his kids. A daughter, Shaela, remembers feeling reassured the family finally had a place they could call their own.
“It was way better,” she said. “It got me to feeling secure about things.”
With a home in place, Michael returned to school and earned his associate of arts degree. SNAP Financial Access helped him open up a bank account. He soon noticed that his children were more adjusted in school, getting good grades and making friends.
“The housing was huge,” Michael said. “We could focus on other things and not worry about where we would be staying.”
Michael’s oldest son, Marcus, remembers never considering college before moving to Riverwalk.
“It was nice knowing this was where we were going to be,” he said. “I felt like I could invest in school because I knew we weren’t about to move to another school district. It definitely affected my attitude and my grades.”
Marcus went on to earn a degree in psychology from Eastern Washington University and now works as a psychometrist in Spokane. His brother, Branden, has his degree from Washington State University and is employed by a company in the Seattle area. Michael’s youngest son, Jasen, is studying mathematics at EWU and wants to be a teacher. Shaela and her sister Larain are in high school and have college goals of their own.
“Before, it was a question of if we were going to college,” Marcus said. “Then it became a question of where we were going and what we are going to study.”
Michael has been steadily employed as a truck driver for the past four years. When asked about subjects other than his family, he typically changes the topic back to his successful and stable children.
“I’m really proud of my kids,” he said. “Looking back, our family just needed a chance. SNAP gave us that.”