Brenda, a native of Seattle, grew up in the Central District, the longtime hub of the Black community and has been coming to events and workshops at Byrd Barr Place almost as long as she can remember. She attended Franklin High School and fondly recalls her principal, Roberta Byrd Barr, the very first Black female principal in Seattle. Brenda was glad to learn in 2018 Centerstone changed its name to honor the educator and activist, carrying forward Roberta’s legacy.
Brenda turns 66 next month, now retired she resides nearby in a low income housing building. Living on a modest fixed income Byrd Barr Place provides essential support to supplement her basic needs. The annual financial assistance she receives from the Byrd Barr Place’s Energy Assistance Program to pay her heating bill in the winter means there is one less thing to worry about each month and that peace of mind goes a long way.
Celebrating her eleventh year of sobriety this year, Brenda looks out for some of the children in her building whose parents are still on the path to recovery. She visits the food bank each week with everyone in mind, and makes a point to bring home food she can share with her neighbors so that everyone has enough food on their table. Visiting the food bank is a pathway to other services; Brenda signed up for the Giving Tree program, and is able to provide presents for her two granddaughters and several other children in her building who have come to know her as Mama Brenda. She also meets with the food bank’s Community Connector when she has questions about financial aid or her health care and has learned about other resources in the city that will continue to reinforce Brenda’s health and well-being.
A few years ago Brenda had fallen behind on rent and faced eviction, but she was able to turn to Byrd Barr Place for financial assistance to pay the back rent, keeping Brenda in her home and rooted in the community. Throughout the years Byrd Barr Place has been there for Brenda when she needed that extra assistance to maintain stability in her life, or when she just wanted to see a friendly face and visit with the staff, almost half of which have worked there for more than a decade. At Byrd Barr Place Brenda finds the support that compliments her personal resiliency and generous spirit, which in turn ripples through her building and the people in her community.