“She never judged me. She was basically the only person I could trust.”

The story behind the story: Wellspring's approach, illustrated


DECEMBER 11, 2015 — At Wellspring Family Services we talk about helping clients become more stable and resilient, but what does that mean, on a personal level?

A recent article in the Seattle Times about Joyce, a former Housing Services client and now a mom of two boys in our Early Learning Center, captured just that. 

Yes, through our Housing Services we help clients find homes. But housing service specialists do so much more than navigate the process. They’re there emotionally, psychologically, and financially. 

Joyce’s story is beautiful one. She and her husband are expecting a third child soon, a girl. Her two boys are thriving. She’s interning – the last step in a certification program that should lead to higher paying, more stable employment. She’s out of transitional housing and pays market rate.

But when she met Jenn Sparr – now our early childhood mental health supervisor but at the time Joyce’s housing service specialist – Joyce was in dark place.


“I didn’t want to see no lights, didn’t want to be around nobody, talk to nobody.”

In 2012, Joyce had a newborn and no father in the picture. She had dropped out of college. Her pregnancy had been complicated, with required bed rest. She needed a home, a job, and a good friend.

A home visit nurse connected her to the 211 line, and the county’s coordinated entry system connected her to Wellspring Family Services.

Back then, Jenn visited Joyce about once a week. She brought essentials: diapers, baby furniture and baby clothes. Sometimes she brought food or gas cards, or bus tickets. She helped with advocacy with the landlord, and made referrals to other programs – job training programs; the Economic Sufficiency Program through the Seattle Housing Authority where a portion of the rent Joyce paid went to a savings account; and the Financial Empowerment Center for financial education.

And Joyce pulled through. 

She remembers Jenn asking, “What do you want in life?” That was the turning point, Joyce said, because “I didn’t even know.”

So she made goals. “I wrote them down, and accomplished every single one.”


1.    Find employment and education/training that could lead to a fulfilling career
2.    Find permanent stable housing
3.    Utilize her faith to help her through the challenges she faced 
4.    Work with her housing specialist to help her overcome any internal barriers she was facing

At Wellspring we take a therapeutic approach in our Community Service programs – using our growing understanding of brain science and the impact of early trauma to assess each family individually. And then we work to tailor the services needed in the best way possible to achieve the goals we all want to achieve.  

In Joyce’s case that included goal setting and referral to programs where she could build skills to become the mom she wanted to be. It meant space in our Early Learning Center for her two boys.

It also meant having an ally.

“One day it just registered. Having that person to talk to, that’s when I knew I was OK,” Joyce recalled recently. 

“Now, I keep looking forward. I used to give up.”

And that future? “I want to focus on helping others.”

Thank you, Joyce, for sharing your story. Your courage is an inspiration!

Learn more: 

Sometimes we’re asked what our eligibility requirements are for our Housing Services. They’re simple: Wellspring serves families and individuals who are homeless, or in danger of becoming homeless, and who are low-income.  

Wellspring Family Services includes two social enterprises: Counseling Services and our Employee Assistance Program. Proceeds from those programs help fund our Community Services, which include:

Our mission: Build emotionally healthy, self-sufficient families and a nonviolent community in which they can thrive.