StoryCorps, an independent nonprofit organization dedicated to recording, preserving and sharing the stories of people from all backgrounds and beliefs, will visit Catholic Community Services of Western Washington-Southwest (CCS) in Tacoma from July 15-19. StoryCorps will partner with CCS to record five days of interviews about family homelessness and the larger issues that surround it—poverty, unemployment and inequality—with a focus on capturing stories about families.
CCS Southwest is the Pierce County local host partner for a new StoryCorps project called “Finding Our Way: Puget Sound Stories About Family Homelessness.” CCS was selected because of its established track record of successfully supporting homeless and at-risk families
as they find and maintain stable housing.
All Pierce County residents who have experienced homelessness as part of a family, in their recent or distant pasts—or know someone who has—are encouraged to participate. Those interested can contact StoryCorps at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Tanya Mendenhall Mettlen at CCS. More information about “Finding Our Way” is also available via the Seattle University Project on Family Homelessness, which is assisting CCS by working to find stories from local residents who may not be connected to a nonprofit service provider.
StoryCorps will also record stories in King and Snohomish counties later in the summer — a total of 90 interviews across the three counties. The project is funded by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
StoryCorps interviews are conversations between two people who know and care about each other. A trained StoryCorps Facilitator guides the participants through the interview process. At the end of each 40-minute recording session, participants receive a CD copy of their interview, and with their permission, a second copy is archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. A very small percentage of all of the interviews StoryCorps records are produced for national broadcast on NPR’s Morning Edition. All of the interview materials recorded at CCS will also be made available for the Gates Foundation and other local nonprofits to use in their advocacy efforts to prevent and end homelessness among families.
“StoryCorps tells the true American story—that we are a people defined by small acts of courage, kindness and heroism. Each interview reminds people that their lives matter and will not be forgotten,” said its founder, David Isay. “By strengthening connections between people and building an archive that reflects the rich diversity of American voices, we hope to build StoryCorps into an enduring institution that will touch the lives of every American family.”
Denny Hunthausen, vice president/CCS Southwest agency director, said that CCS is excited to be the Pierce County local host partner for the project. “Families who go through homelessness are some of the most resilient people we’ve ever met. The humanizing nature of this project is what excites us about participating. It’s empowering for the people who tell their stories, and an incredibly positive experience for the people in our organization — our clients, staff, funders, donors, neighbors and everyone who cares about ending family homelessness.”