Real Stories – Judith Whiteley

Judith Whiteley, Auburn

“I became homeless for the first time in 1977. I had to flee my abuser and took my four children with me. We lived like nomads for the next six years while my abuser followed us around. His unwillingness to pay child support kept us in poverty. We relied on public assistance to meet our basic needs; my children felt humiliated. After my kids were grown, I moved to Washington, obtained an AA degree in Horticulture, and started my own landscape business. But in 1990 I became disabled and had to close my business forcing me once again into poverty and homelessness. I slept in my truck in parking lots and other public places. Finally, I was able to get public assistance to pay rent and minimal support, but the amount I receive is not enough to meet my basic needs.

When Poverty Action contacted me through their Vote for a Change campaign, I didn’t think it would lead to my continual involvement, but it did! Not only did I vote in 2004, although I had voted infrequently, I met with my elected state lawmaker, Rep. Geoff Simpson, in the state capitol for the first time. I was able to share my personal story and ask Rep. Simpson to support Poverty Action’s legislative priorities.

As a past victim of domestic violence, I understand the plight of women and children who need ways to become safe from their abusers, as well as the widening gap between rich and poor. People need living wage employment, accompanied by affordable education to gain skills employers need. Health Care should be free for people who need it, with special attention given toward children’s physical and mental health so that they don’t lose hope early in life.

Poverty Action is doing great work and for us to be even more effective, more people like you need to become a member. We need to do so much more. I hope you’ll join me in the fight to ensure that everyone in Washington State can have a better future.”