Author Archives: kirbylochner

Ami’s Story

How Ami — a refugee, a mother, a vibrant member of our community — found her home at FamilyWorks through playgroups and by building relationships with the family advocates at Seattle’s only family resource center and food bank.

When meeting Ami, people are struck most by her positive attitude.  She’s always smiling, energized and generous with her words.  Most people wouldn’t, couldn’t imagine the level of trauma she’s been witness to, and I got curious about her.  What’s her secret? When I asked her this, she laughed.

I work in hospice you know.  I hold the hand of those who are approaching death.  What I’ve learned is: Only kindness matters—that’s a person’s legacy.  Everything else dies with them. 

Ami fled from Somalia when she was just thirteen. 

You couldn’t walk the streets.  Young women were being raped.  There were no police, no jail…I remember when I heard that the girl I grew up was killed in rebel crossfire.  She was going to get bread.  That was my best friend.  People were carrying guns, killing their neighbors; these people with guns were a tiny minority, but they took over.  I asked, “Why? Why? Why?”

Ami has four children.  She works, and is studying to get into a social work program. Ami also volunteers regularly.

That was modeled for me by my mother.  She taught me about community.  I live in her memory, and her legacy of love lives through me. Community, its strength, is the only thing that stands between chaos and stability. Being in community heals people.  That’s why I got involved.  I want to be someone people can count on.  I never want to forget that life is an opportunity.  It’s a blessing to be in it and every day is a chance to be remembered, through kindness.

Ami found FamilyWorks while visiting the library.

I was in a new a country. I was so lonely.  I was still learning English, but I found my community there. They didn’t all look like me, but they supported me in that rough time and I wanted to give back. That’s how I ended up volunteering at the food bank. You know you’ve found your place when you can give and receive in a meaningful way.  

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Running for FamilyWorks Food Bank

The following message was sent to us from Conrad Smith, a longtime Food Bank volunteer, who has organized a community campaign fundraiser for FamilyWorks. Just like Conrad, you too can support FamilyWorks in your own unique way! Visit the Choose Your Own Adventure page to see how your fundraising idea can benefit FamilyWorks.

Hello FamilyWorks Community. My name is Conrad Smith. I’ve been around this community for a while, helping out in several capacities. I’ve been a runner for YEARS and after many miles and lots of good living, had to have a full hip replacement.conrad smith 3

That was in December. Well, I’m already back to running and now I can run up to five miles just five months after getting a brand new hip. I figure the best way to give back is to put my new hip to some fundraising use, so this July, I will join 11 others from my company (Corporate Visions) to run the 196 mile, Pacific Northwest Passage relay from the Peace Arch to Langley (Whidbey Island).

I’ll be raising money for my favorite local charity  – FamilyWorks in Wallingford. I’ve attached a more recent picture of me helping out in the food bank, but if you go to the link below, you’ll get to see a picture of me that may bring a smile (or a laugh). Please take a look at the link and donate what you can – thanks.

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A Heartfelt Thank You to St. Benedict’s from Will Lewis, FamilyWorks Board Member

This past Sunday, I was given an opportunity to talk about FamilyWorks to the congregation at St. Benedict’s. Deacon Roy Harrington and others in the parish have partnered with us over the last two years and are focusing on the issues of hunger in our community. I was able to thank them for their continuing support and gave them an overview of how their donations are being used and their impact maximized at FamilyWorks.

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FamilyWorks Board Member Will Lewis

St. Benedict’s parish is exactly the kind of community partner that FamilyWorks looks for and appreciates. The parish and school have a strong sense of social justice. They have been a continual presence in our neighborhood since the church was founded by Benedictine monks in 1906. They are eager to make a difference in our community.

Thank you, St. Benedict’s. You are a leader among all those who make Wallingford a more compassionate community.

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