Shepard, Chopp recognize mentoring program

WWU President Bruce Shepard and Washington State Speaker of the House Frank Chopp (D-Seattle) speak along with LIHI Executive Director Sharon Lee to a group of volunteers, students and residents Monday at a LIHI apartment building near Seattle. Photo by Rachel Bayne | for WWU

WWU President Bruce Shepard and Washington State Speaker of the House Frank Chopp (D-Seattle) speak along with LIHI Executive Director Sharon Lee to a group of volunteers, students and residents, Monday at a LIHI apartment building near Seattle. Photo by Rachel Bayne | for WWU

WWU President Bruce Shepard, with Washington State Speaker of the House Frank Chopp (D-Seattle), WWU English professor Bill Lyne, LIHI Executive Director Sharon Lee, center, and volunteers, students and residents and LIHI supporters. Photo by Rachel Bayne | for WWU

Western Today staff

Western Washington University is partnering with the Low Income Housing Institute in Seattle to provide mentors, one on one, to homeless and low-income adults, primarily refugees from East African countries of Somalia, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Eritrea.

On Monday, Western President Bruce Shepard and Frank Chopp, Speaker of the Washington State House of Representatives, were joined by LIHI Executive Director Sharon Lee in an event at Meadowbrook View Apartments in Seattle to laud the efforts of the mentors and the achievements of the LIHI residents.

“This one-on-one mentoring program is a great example of Western students changing lives in the communities we serve,” Shepard said.

The goal for this pilot project is for Western’s Woodring College of Education Continuing and College Education master’s students and alumni to act as mentors to the LIHI residents, to help them gain employment skills making them more marketable to employers. 

The residents participating in the program live in LIHI apartments across the city and are looking to develop or improve their computer technology and job seeking skills. While in LIHI housing, residents transitioning out of homelessness work on increasing their self-sufficiency, with the ultimate goal of finding employment. For that reason, LIHI partnered with WWU to provide residents with one-on-one mentoring opportunities to help them become more employable. And some are applying for higher education degree programs and need assistance with the applications and preparations for continuing their education. One resident thanked her mentor and the university for helping her reach her lifelong dream; she just received a call that she was hired by a local hospital. She said the mentor gave her the confidence to apply for the job.

The mentoring program, which began last fall, is continuing and more Western mentors are needed. For more information please contact Dr. Sandra Daffron, project director, at sandra.daffron@wwu.edu or 360-650-2977.