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Federal Way-area FUSION gives women a safe haven

Tamia, of Federal Way, had romantic visions of what marriage would be like when she wed at the age of 19.

And then the violence started.

Several years later, Tamia found herself a homeless single mother after leaving an abusive relationship. She was financially broke and her credit and rental history was ruined. She stayed with relatives for awhile. And then there was transitional housing.

But there was nowhere that could be called home until just a few months ago.

Tamia, who chose to be identified by a fictional name because she fears her ex-husband will find her, recently moved into a Federal Way-area condo provided by Friends United to Support the Indigent, Oppressed and Needy (FUSION).

Now, at the age of 27, she and her daughter are beginning to get their lives back on track. Tamia graduated from college this year and is beginning to pay off her debts. Her daughter has a safe and stable place to call home.

“It’s really fulfilling for me also to see that she’s happy where she lives,” Tamia said.

Tamia is building rental history with FUSION. Her monthly program service fee is based on her income so she can save money and rebuild her credit. FUSION will allow her to stay in the condo for up to 15 months until she becomes self-sufficient.

“It is so nice. It was so comforting after roaming around the past several months looking for somewhere to live,” Tamia said.

The FUSION condo is set up with everything Tamia and her daughter might need. Paintings hang on the walls, there are dishes in the cupboards and a vacuum cleaner. A bedroom is equipped with age-appropriate toys for Tamia’s daughter.

“Even the cupboards were full of food. They took care of everything,” Tamia said.

Perhaps most importantly, Tamia knows she and her daughter are safe. Her ex-husband doesn’t know where to find them and they are living in a safe neighborhood.

Tamia’s condo is one of ten units operated by FUSION in the Federal Way area. Clients are single women with children and they are screened by the YWCA. They are offered social services for getting their lives back on track. FUSION has served 154 families since 1994. Eighty-three percent of those families moved successfully into permanent housing.

In January, FUSION will complete a merger with the Joseph Foundation and acquire four additional housing units for men.

FUSION will host their annual art event on August 6. They aim to have 800 people at the event and to raise $100,000. So far, sponsors have pledged $60,000.

Local artists will sell their work at the event and donate a portion of the proceeds to FUSION. There will also be a silent and live auction. Auction items include a Holland America cruise, a chocolate pearl necklace and earrings, plane tickets to anywhere Alaska Airlines flies, a scooter, a $5,000 spa package from Federal Way Muscular Therapy, a one-week stay at Whistler, a one-week stay at a cabin in Lake Chelan and a hot-air balloon ride.

Metropolitan Market donated $10,000 worth of food and catering services for the event and alcohol will be served. For more information, visit www.fusionfederalway.org.

FUSION’s 15th annual summer art benefit, “A Gatsby Soiree,” will be held from 3 to 9 p.m. Aug. 6 at the Dumas Bay Centre in Federal Way. The evening includes a catered meal from Metropolitan Market, an Art Walk featuring 40 local artists and a silent and live auction. Proceeds go to housing and support for families in need as they transition into permanent housing.

To purchase tickets, call Teryl Heller at (253) 839-6361 or e-mail at teryl.heller@gmail.com. Tickets cost $55 in advance and $65 at the door. For more information, call Kelsey Kovach at (253) 307-7670 or e-mail kovachk@seattleu.edu.

Contact Margo Hoffman: mhoffman@fedwaymirror.com or (253) 925-5565.

Federal Way group hoping to raise $100,000 at annual event

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