The Durham family made their first donation to Attain Housing in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and have continued since then to give generously in support of our Stable Home program. We reached out to ask them what motivated them to give and to tell us a bit more about themselves. Janelle Durham gave us their story.
Tell us about your history in the Kirkland area. What are some of your favorite things about living here and about being a part of the community?
Janelle Durham: We have lived on the Eastside since 1989, and like many Eastsiders, whenever it was a beautiful sunny day, we’d think “it’s a great day, let’s go to downtown Kirkland.” In 2013, we found a new home just a short walking distance from downtown Kirkland and realized “if we lived in Kirkland, we could be there on all the beautiful days!”
By our eighth year here, we’re still loving Kirkland. It has a small town vibe to it, where when we walk around town, we run into folks from school, or church, or we see the barista walking to work, or the “slow dog” ambling by with his owner. But, it’s a “small town” with so many resources—the pool, the library, Kirkland Performance Center, and so many restaurants! During the pandemic, we got takeout dinner one night a week, and our goal was to get something from a different downtown restaurant each week—turns out there are 60 of them! So, we have a few more still to go.
What motivated your family to make a first donation to Attain Housing in 2020? Was there a particular aspect of our services or our mission that appealed to you?
JD: We attend Northlake Unitarian Universalist Church in Kirkland, which has a “Share the Plate” program where each month, the first $1000 from the offering is donated to a local nonprofit. Attain Housing has been an annual recipient. So we were aware of Attain, and especially respected their Stable Home program, which helps people avoid eviction and avoid becoming homeless in the first place.
When the pandemic began and many people were out of work, we thought about our situation. Peter’s income (as a software engineer) is enough for us—if I lost my job as a parent educator, we would be okay financially. We know that this is not true of many families. Once we acknowledged that, we decided we would make some significant donations. We donated to Attain to help people keep their homes, and we also supported the Kirkland Chamber of Commerce to help keep local businesses afloat, and also food banks for those who were struggling.
As the homeless and at-risk families we serve, along with our community in general, continues to mend, heal, and emerge from the pandemic, what are some values you believe our community at large should continue to prioritize and focus on in 2022 and beyond?
JD: We are a community with so many strengths and so many resources. We need to embrace all the beauty and abundance here, and at the same time acknowledge that access to those resources is not equitable. The income inequality is tremendous, the housing is quite simply not affordable, and racism is real and is affecting our neighbors.
We appreciate the commitments the City of Kirkland and many organizations in the city have made to diversity and to anti-oppression work. As individuals, we also need to acknowledge our roles in working toward a better, more just future.