We are saddened to hear of long-time Seattle Milk Fund Member Marge Strandoo’s recent passing. She was an avid Seattle Milk Fund supporter who had served as Treasurer in the Jean H. Shields Circle.
A memorial is being planned by her family. Her obituary can be found here.
On a windy evening in the summer of 1992, Zuhra, along with her mother, six sisters, and brother, fled their home in Kabul City, Afghanistan. The civil war had caused them to leave abruptly and find safety in a province north of Afghanistan. What she and her family thought would be a couple of months of refuge, turned into decades of living as refugees and immigrants in different cities across the globe.
Zuhra reminisces about her home, “I have memories of my neighborhood, friends, classmates and our green lawn where we would play with our cousins. I remember a huge house, a happy family, a cohesive community, our local market, a family doctor who knew how to pronounce my name and my mother’s delicious meals.”
Her father had left the family earlier and found asylum in the Netherlands. They would be apart from their father for nearly a decade.
In 2001, Zuhra and her mother and siblings moved to the U.S. The family found it hard to acclimate to the way of life in the U.S. It was difficult to find a community to belong to, especially after September 11th. And the only jobs available were minimum wage opportunities. Zuhra’s parents were professionals in Afghanistan, her mother an elementary school teacher and her father, an engineer.
In 2003, a few years after the family arrived in the U.S., they were able to sponsor their father to come to the U.S.
When Zuhra’s father arrived in Seattle, he couldn’t find work in his field. He was proud of his degree and couldn’t see himself working for a minimum wage. This caused him severe anguish, his mental well-being was deteriorating. His family was worried about him and suggested he get help. Zuhra was in high school and her siblings were all working full-time to pay for the family’s rent and keep afloat.
One morning, Zuhra and her siblings awoke to screaming. They found their mother being stabbed by their father.
Zuhra remembers, “With all the other losses that we had faced, my mother’s death was a sorrow that touched our lives tremendously. My mother was the cornerstone of our home.”
The siblings went through their father’s trial and have had no contact with their father since he was sentenced.
Zuhra’s older brother took the events harshly, and a year later, passed away after suffering a brain aneurysm at the age of 29. At this time, Zuhra had just begun to take classes at the University of Washington. She had to leave school and take two jobs to help support her family.
Zuhra went back to Afghanistan in 2005 to marry a childhood friend through an arranged marriage. The couple returned to the U.S. and welcomed twin boys in 2008. They were born prematurely and Zuhra and her husband spent many hours in the NICU during the first few weeks of their sons’ lives. Her experience with the nurses in the NICU inspired Zuhra to go back to college and become a nurse.
Zuhra views becoming a nurse as, “The best decision of my life. To go back to school and gain the education allows my boys reach their potentials, and I can be an advocate for my patients in the field of medicine.”
After enrolling in pre-requisite nursing classes at North Seattle College, she contacted Seattle Milk Fund inquiring about assistance with child care for her twins. Seattle Milk Fund provided child care and family support grants for three years of schooling. Her twins recently started kindergarten and are thriving in their new school. Their ability to go to preschool, helped prepare them for their own educational journey.
This past spring, Zuhra graduated from the University of Washington with a Bachelor in Science of Nursing degree, and now works as a Registered Nurse at Providence Mount St. Vincent, a long-term care facility in West Seattle.
Zuhra’s journey of strength and perseverance is remarkable to many. She believes her background has taught her, “Empathy, acceptance, and appreciation for life. We were able to see the world from a survivor’s point of view and appreciate the simple things in life. The negative forces around us, helped us to form positive and stronger bonds among our family.”
Zuhra looked up to her mother as a wise, kind, compassionate, and intelligent role model. It’s very clear that her mother’s traits were passed down and have inspired Zuhra to graduate and become a nurse.
Seattle Milk Fund’s 2013-2014 Annual Report Card will be mailed mid-February to our friends. In the meantime it is available online, feel free to download it here. Thank you for supporting Seattle Milk Fund’s local families.
Mark your calendars for Saturday, May 16 for the Annual Meeting and Brunch for Members! “Spring Forward” will be held at the Sand Point Country Club. Stay tuned for more information.
Seattle Milk Fund is delighted to welcome Elizabeth, into the Child Care and Family Support Program, as a new grantee. Elizabeth’s education journey is one of love, inspiration and determination.
A few years ago, Elizabeth and her fiancée decided to have a baby. Having a baby changes your life, and it couldn’t have been truer for Elizabeth and her fiancée. About 10 hours after her daughter’s birth, Elizabeth noticed her daughter was having a seizure. The nurse thought it was just a fidgety newborn moving about, but her mother’s intuition and experience with her own epilepsy told her something else was going on. Elizabeth asked the nurse to check on her and they witnessed four more seizures. Her seizures had been a sign of a stroke, and two days later she was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy.
After the initial shock of their newborn’s diagnosis, Elizabeth and her fiancée knew they had to be strong and move forward for the sake of their daughter’s well-being.
Elizabeth recalls saying at the time, “Okay, so where do we go from here? What do we need to do? She is our baby and if she is going to be in a wheelchair then we will bedazzle it with jewels and we will take care of her no matter what.”
The new parents took pride in the fact that they didn’t care what the situation was, only that she was their baby and they would love and take care of her no matter what.
Their baby is now a toddler. With the help of in-home therapy and the use of braces since she was about two months old, she is overcoming the odds and is doing better than ever expected by her doctors. “She is walking and talking and full of life. She is absolutely perfect,” Elizabeth lovingly boasts.
Elizabeth wants a better life for her family and is following her dreams, “I hope one day after seeing me strive toward my goals and ambitions, my daughter will want to do the same.”
About six months after the birth of her daughter, Elizabeth decided to enroll in college full-time to begin her higher education. With her positive attitude and her daughter as her inspiration, Elizabeth has excelled in the Social and Human Services program at Lake Washington Institute of Technology (LWTech).
Elizabeth’s advisor at LWTech glows about her star student, “She has made the Dean’s List each quarter she has been enrolled. I have no doubt that that with the motivation Elizabeth displays and her determination to reach her goals that she will become a clinical psychologist.”
Seattle Milk Fund provides Elizabeth, and all students who are accepted into the program, with child care funding and other family support needs. Seattle Milk Fund has also paired Elizabeth up with a volunteer mentor who is a part of her support system while she is in school.
As a full-time student, Elizabeth is relieved to have found child care help, “Seattle Milk Fund makes it easier for me to go to school because they take a huge financial burden off of me.”
Elizabeth’s journey to achieving her educational goal is just beginning. After finishing her Social and Human Services Associates Degree at LWTech, she plans to transfer to Seattle Central College for their Bachelor of Applied Science Degree in Applied Behavioral Science. She then hopes to apply to Washington State University’s Clinical Psychology Graduate Program. We are eager to keep you updated on Elizabeth’s story. Stay tuned!
Thanks to our volunteers, bakers and customers for coming together for CookieFest–it was a big success! The cookies sold out in just over two hours, and we raised over $6,500 for our program.
We have several volunteer opportunities open over the holidays. If you are interested in volunteering for our Thanksgiving Baskets event on Nov. 20-22 or at CookieFest on Dec. 13, feel free to call us at the office to learn more at 206-526-7944. You can also sign up for upcoming events, here.
Volunteers needed for the following events:
Our Thanksgiving Basket program is provided to our students and their families as part of our family support portion of their child care grant. All families receive a basket of Thanksgiving food, a turkey and a $50 grocery gift card. We need volunteers to assist with setting up the food that has been donated. A big thank you to National Frozen Foods and the Kiwanis Club of Industrial Seattle for providing the food for the baskets.
Our annual CookieFest event is a cookie-lovers dream! Seattle’s best bakers and bakeries come together to donate thousands and thousands of holiday-inspired cookies each year to benefit Seattle Milk Fund. We need volunteers to help set up, staff tables, and help people pick out their favorite cookies!
The photos from Homecoming 2014 are here!
Thank you to our photographer Alan Sapalaran for documenting our fun event!
Wreaths will be available December 1 (after 12 noon) for pick up at the Seattle Milk Fund office at 1130 N Northgate Way, Seattle, WA 98133.
An enormous THANK YOU to our donors, sponsors, members and volunteers who made this year’s Homecoming event a success!
Last night, YOU raised $170,000 to help students and their families. A fun time was had by all! More photos to be posted soon…