There was a fire — an arson that burned her rented house down– and just like that, Kristina Morris and her son found themselves homeless.
“It’s often thought that a homeless person is unemployed, but in truth, many, like me, are employed,” said Morris. “But once a person becomes homeless, it’s not as easy to pull yourself out of those circumstances as one may think, including me.”
Fast forward nine years and Morris, now living in Lynnwood, is the founder of an upcoming fundraiser called “Homecoming: Stabilizing our community one home at a time,” a community-initiative benefit concert Sunday, Sept. 18 at the Historic Everett Theater.
A singer, Morris used her connections in the music community to pull the concert together, an event that features musicians who have performed with the groups Heart and Bad Company as well as a host of local bands.
The concert is sponsored by Affordable Housing Connection, the charitable arm of Williams Investments, where Morris works as a leasing agent. She credits the company with helping her come back from that difficult time. “I realized that I had transferable skills and applied for a job with Williams Investments, and they gave me a chance. After two years, that’s what changed and began my son’s and my journey of stability. They didn’t just provide me with a job. They provided us with a home.”
In line with that philosophy, she noted that the company manages four affordable-housing apartment buildings and offers a free application process.
The concert furthers that mission, with all ticket sales going directly to local agencies that assist the homeless and people in crisis: Domestic Violence Services of Snohomish County; Cocoon House, which helps teenagers and adult youth; Volunteers of America Maude’s House, an emergency shelter for women and children; Interfaith Family Shelter and the YWCA Pathways for Women program.
“Often state and federal funds are encumbered, to be used a certain way,” Morris said. “The money we raise at the concert will give these agencies the freedom to spend on programs where they see the greatest need.”
In addition to raising money, Morris wants to promote a more humane understanding of those who are homeless, a mission that comes out of her own wrenching experience. “I know what it’s like, how debilitating, overwhelming and shameful it was, how incompetent I felt,” she recalled. “I kept thinking, why I can’t I get this figured out? And I had more support than many people in similar circumstances have. The truth is, homelessness can happen to anyone at any time. These people are human beings — somebody’s mother, somebody’s brother. They need our compassion, not our judgment.”
She added that this concert is a real opportunity to do something concrete and affect what often seems to be an unsolvable problem. “A lot of people want to help but they don’t know how to begin,” Morris said. “This is a way to begin. With their ticket purchase, they’re investing directly in our community.”
And while the concert will be lots of fun, she said, it means a lot more than that.
“This is not just about going to a concert to hear music. It’s about knowing you’re really helping people who need our help.”
Sunday, Sept. 18 at the Historic Everett Theater, 2911 Colby Ave.
Doors open at 4 p.m., concert at 5 p.m.
Tickets through Eventbrite. $37.50, $50, $75 and $100
— By Connie McDougall