Solid Ground’s Broadview program creates a safe haven where 13,000+ domestic violence (DV) survivors – including 8,500+ children – have gained stability and hope since 1983.
Much more than shelter, Broadview provides comprehensive support services to help families heal from the traumas of homelessness and DV in a climate of respect. This fall, as Program Manager Chris Meinhold moves on after 30+ years at Broadview (including seven as its leader), we’re celebrating her tenure by highlighting some secrets to Broadview’s longevity and success.
Innovation to address whole lives
Broadview staff share a collective commitment to the idea that housing is a basic human right – and a belief that by serving the whole family, we can interrupt cycles of poverty and support all residents to thrive. As one of the first DV facilities in our region to allow shelter stays longer than a few weeks – and the only one that allows male children to stay with their families until they are 18 years old – Broadview has always been innovative.
“I am not sure where I would be if Broadview did not answer my call for help. I do know, however, I am where I am because Broadview took me in and invested in me.” ~Lakesha Smith, former Broadview mom & prosecutor with the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office
Early to recognize that all household members – not just parents – need access to support services, Broadview launched a Children’s Program in 1988 and became a model for other family shelters. Chris says, “This whole building is set up for children and families,” and it’s all about keeping them safe.
But beyond innovation, Broadview staff approach all residents with an attitude of respect. According to Bev Sims, who’s been part of the Broadview team for 20+ years, respect starts with the facility: “The fact that they got their own units made it such a lovely place for families to be.” And because they don’t have to share, “They can shut the world out when they shut the door for a minute and try to heal.”
Lakesha, only 19 years old when Broadview was there for her and her child, writes, “In 2001, I fled an abusive relationship and sought refuge at Broadview. Back then, I thought I only needed shelter. However, once I arrived, I quickly learned my need was bigger than my awareness. Broadview gave me hope, healing, and resources to reclaim my life and my purpose.”
Not just a number
At full capacity, there are 31 parents and around 75 kids in residence at Broadview – and staff make a point to know the names of every single one, which Chris says “is huge when you’ve been in a situation where you have been discounted.”
She reminisces about one former resident who called years later to say, “I had to go through three other programs to realize what I had and how different you guys are. I’ve never been treated with the same respect – never had the level of support services for my children, and a clean and neat unit with everything in good repair – like I had at Broadview.”
“Everybody was always there to talk to, bounce ideas off of. They made me feel like I was important. The biggest thing I walked away with was I mattered, and I was important to my kids.” ~Tracie Warren, MA Social Work, ARC of King County
Soberingly, there are nowhere near enough facilities to serve people seeking DV services in King County. Broadview gets 15-20 applications for each transitional unit opening and must turn away up to 500 eligible families each month.
As one former Broadview mom, Violet, puts it: “Broadview didn’t mean shelter, it meant a safe home to us. The friendly staff were polite and made me feel [at] home. They took care of my two boys. We stayed there for three months and have our own apartment now, but I still go to Broadview for support. It is just a great place.”
Tracie, another former resident, says, “I was there 13 years ago. I have two boys with disabilities. My situation was intense. If it weren’t for Broadview, I wouldn’t have had anywhere to go and would have ended up back where I was. Everybody was always there to talk to, bounce ideas off of. They made me feel like I was important. The biggest thing I walked away with was I mattered, and I was important to my kids. Everything that happened there helped me with that thought process.”
Not just a job
Broadview’s team includes advocates, children’s specialists, housekeepers, administrative staff, and substitutes, many of whom have more than 10 years’ experience there. For most, it’s more than a job – their connection to Broadview runs deep.
“Broadview has been my selfcare as well,” explains Bev, “especially after (my husband) died. I think I would have gone crazy if I didn’t have this place to come to. But also, I kept learning and changing. I had to learn to be more tolerant and self-reflective. Mistakes you make here you see in yourself and at home, and you can apply them differently. I really appreciate this circle of love; it’s just this amazing thing.”
According to Bev, Chris’ role as the team leader has a lot to do with Broadview’s positive environment. “Each of us brings different gifts. She champions and celebrates us. Chris probably doesn’t realize how much glue she is for all of us. A lot of us wouldn’t be here if we didn’t have that kind of manager.”
“Staff have a voice,” Chris says, “and there is a creative tension sometimes between housing case managers who work with moms and the team that works with kids. But there is room for everybody to be heard and work out decisions.”
Steps to stability
For many families, Broadview provides the support they need to change the trajectory of their lives. As Tracie now reports, “I got my Master’s this year in Social Work, and I am a social worker at ARC of King County. Broadview gave me tools and confidence – and everything I needed to start over and get where I am today.”
Lakesha’s world is forever altered as well: “With Broadview’s assistance, I obtained a GED and more stable housing. These were the first steps which fueled my educational and career endeavors. I went on to get a BA from Seattle University and a law degree from Tulane Law.”
Today, Lakesha is a prosecutor with the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office and reflects, “I am not sure where I would be if Broadview did not answer my call for help. I do know, however, I am where I am because Broadview took me in and invested in me.”
Solid Ground is pleased to announce that Broadview’s strong leadership will continue under new Director, Karen McKeen. Previously Housing Director at Domestic Violence Services of Snohomish County, she brings a wealth of service and advocacy experience to the team.