Community

Soroptimists chapter helps women in need

Soroptimist helper Jim Larkin delivers gifts to Sherri Curiel in downtown Kent.  - Courtesy photo
Soroptimist helper Jim Larkin delivers gifts to Sherri Curiel in downtown Kent.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

For the Reporter

On the first snowy day of the year, Dec. 18, Multi-Service Center's Titusville transitional housing facility in downtown Kent was full of warmth.

Gifts had arrived, stacks and stacks of them, in colorful shiny paper, sitting outside every resident's door.

Thanks to the generosity of Soroptimists International, Seattle South Chapter, the women living in this clean and sober program were like kids at Christmas, full of delight and energy.

For good reason, said Traci Krieg, Multi-Service Center case manager for Titusville. "The Soroptimists are so generous ... year after year, for more than 20 years now."

Carlyn Larkin, Soroptimist member and organizer of the gift program, says that giving back to women in need is just what Soroptimists do.

"Soroptimists means the best for women," she said. "Last year, our chapter distributed $28,000 into the community to provide for women and girls. The Titusville program is just part of what we do."

Larkin said that giving to the Titusville women is an important project "because we can all see ourselves where these women are. Many of us know what it is like to have so little," she said.

The benefactors of these gifts are women recovering from drug and alcohol addictions. Because of these addictions, many of them have lost everything – jobs, family, self-esteem.

Through Multi-Service Center's Titusville program, the women live in dormitory-style community, work with a case manager to meet goals and to continue their sobriety, while also building more stable futures. They live in this mixed-use retail and residential building, at the corner of Gowe and First, downtown Kent, for up to two years.

In the 22 years that Multi-Service Center has run the Titusville program, more than 300 women have lived at Titusville, and more than 78 percent of them have moved on from the program successfully maintaining their sobriety and transitioning to stable housing.

It can be a difficult journey, says Michele Perrin, a former resident of the Titusville program, and receiver of the Soroptimist gifts.

"A lot of the women in Titusville have endured horrendous abuse, homelessness and incarceration. I can testify to the damage this can do to one's self-esteem," she said. "Feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness and fear are often a part of our everyday lives."

The gifts during the holidays from the Soroptimists' chapter make a lasting difference, she adds.

"For these women to care enough about our happiness to make sure our Christmas is special means we must be worth it. That really lifts us up," Perrin said.

Larkin smiles when she talks about the women of Titusville. "They are eager to receive our gifts, and that is rewarding," she says. "Our hope for them is that they become happy and productive citizens. Maybe our gifts will help."

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Multi-Service Center (MSC) is a nonprofit agency dedicated to helping residents of South King County build pathways out of poverty. With offices in Federal Way and Kent, MSC helps more than 50,000 people annually with resources and support in housing, education, employment, energy assistance, food and clothing, and more. Our Kent office is located at 515 W. Harrison Street in a building shared with the Kent Food Bank. Learn more about MSC at www.multi-servicecenter.com.

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