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More Than Rumors: Agents of Change

Posted by Johnine Larsen on September 12, 2014
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community coffeeBy now, you might have heard the rumors. Agents of Change. A group of Realtors giving thousands of dollars to homeless women and children. Some sort of collaboration between Mary’s Place and the Real Estate Gals. Agents of Change. Something good.

It’s time to go beyond rumors. Agents of Change is moving, and we’re going to bring you up to speed.


Fact 1: Agents of Change is real

We’re a group of Realtors and lenders drawn together by our desire to help those less fortunate. At the center, coordinating everyone and supplying a seemingly endless supply of passion and energy, you’ll find Johnine.

Fact 2: Agents of Change is partnering with Mary’s Place

Mary’s Place is a Seattle homeless shelter. It has four campuses, 120 beds, and a great team of staff and volunteers. In their own words:

Mary’s Place is a leading voice for homeless women and children in emergency situations. We empower women to reclaim their lives by offering community, acceptance, hope and dignity. Our work keeps struggling families together and provides practical tools and resources that help women find housing and employment. We inspire the community to support homeless women and families through advocacy, partnerships, volunteerism and philanthropy.

Fact 3: A few Agents of Change gathered (informally) for the first time this Wednesday

Johnine, Darcie, and a handful of other Agents of Change attended community coffee at Mary’s Place. We toured the Day Center at 9th Ave. and Stewart, where we met some of the staff and talked with some of the women.


We saw the supplies behind the front desk, supplies like toothpaste, feminine hygiene products, and drawers and drawers filled with other essential toiletries. Women can get what they need at Mary’s Place, and they can get it without feeling guilty. “This is a place where I can ask for the clothes my son needs without feeling like a bad parent,” one woman told us, fighting back tears.

We met Lauren, the Day Center’s chef. “For many of these women, this is the only meal they’ll get today,” Lauren said, “So I try to make it as tasty as I can.” As she chopped up carrots, she explained her own story. Lauren had hit a low point her life, severely depressed, when a friend suggested she start volunteering. So she started helping at Mary’s Place two hours a week. Then a few more hours, and a then few more, and soon she was spending twenty-five hours a week there. Now, Lauren is an intern at the Day Center. She was smiling and happy when she talked with us, and she attributes the change to helping others.


We saw the respite room, a quiet room with access to a part-time nurse. Many of the women don’t have a space where they can rest and recover after a surgery, or during chemotherapy, or while they’re sick, so Mary’s Place gives them that space. Mary’s Place also brings in doctors and other medical personnel as needed.

And we heard stories. Powerful, humbling stories. The Agents of Change sat in a circle with a dozen women, and we all traded introductions. Some of the women had found themselves homeless after an injury or an illness. Others, because of depression or another mental condition. “We’ve all had bad days, or bad weeks,” a staff member explained. “Or bad years.” Many women nodded in agreement.

Without fail, all of the women said positive about Mary’s Place. How it had let them become part of a community, or how it had restored their dignity, or how it had helped them find work and a place to live.

Fact 4: Agents of Change made its first donation this Wednesday

Each Agent of Change will donate $1,000-$5,000 to Mary’s Place. The first donations happened this Wednesday. Johnine gave $5,000, and we couldn’t be happier.

Fact 5: Agents of Change is moving

The official group of agents and lenders is formalizing, and we are starting to plan our first Agnets of Change events. We have a website on the way, too, where we will provide updates, introduce our members, and share firsthand stories from the women of Mary’s Place. We’re excited.

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