“I think that it’s a super brave thing to make the decision to have a child when you’re a young, single woman,” said Michelle Upshaw, owner and founder of the local business ReadySet Staging. “It’s a lonely thing, I can imagine.”
Upshaw and her company, which offers interior design and customized home staging, recently partnered with a local nonprofit called Special Delivery, which provides housing, counseling, and other resources to young pregnant women who are transitioning out of homelessness.
“I just think that it’s awesome that they offer so many different ways of support,” Upshaw said.
ReadySet Staging donated furniture and redecorated Special Delivery’s community living space, the most-used room in its Woodinville house.
“It blew all of our minds,” said Misty Talkish, Executive Director of Special Delivery. “It’s an amazing space.”
Upshaw said she aimed to create a room that felt brighter, more welcoming and more youthful. She also tried to bring in a lot of soft surfaces and other items that would be safe for small children and functional for their moms.
“I think that your surroundings have such a reflection on how you feel about yourself,” she said.
Special Delivery is a unique program that takes a holistic approach to healing and assisting its residents. The women, ages 18 to 24, can live in the house while pregnant and after they give birth for up to about 18 months. While there, they receive career advice, relationship counseling, parenting classes, art classes, and other educational opportunities.
“It’s safe. It’s nonjudgmental. We’re there to support them right where they’re at,” Talkish said. “Empowering them is one of our biggest things.”
The organization has an all-female staff. This is intentional, Talkish said, due to the sensitivity of the residents and the close and relational nature of the program. Four of the staff members live onsite, two in a separate home on the property and two inside the Special Delivery house.
“I feel that it adds to the sense of safety that the women feel when in our program,” said Talkish. “There are a lot of vulnerable situations that the girls experience as new moms, so having a female staff eases that as well.”
Many of the women that go through the program come from difficult backgrounds. Some have experienced abusive relationships or chemical dependencies.
“When they first get here, they’re a little standoffish. Their normal is ‘I have to do this all by myself,” Talkish said.
And because of the difficulties many of the women have faced and still face going forward, the Special Delivery staff is particularly committed to helping their residents get to a place of stability.
“We’re not kicking you out. We’re not going anywhere,” Talkish said. “We’re not perfect. We’re human. We can all do this together.”
Alumni of the Special Delivery program usually retain close ties with the organization. Anyone can return for help, whether that be in the form of career counseling or extra diapers and wipes.
The women that move out of the house go on to find their own apartments and get steady jobs. Some go back to school.
One alumnus of the program attended beauty school, became a stylist, found her own apartment, and now provides for her children all on her own.
“Special Delivery was her first landing space,” Talkish said.
Before coming to work for Special Delivery this past January, Talkish worked for the Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission. She and her husband were “house parents” for at-risk youth for over two years.
“What keeps me going is just my passion for seeing young women find healing from their brokenness,” Talkish said. “Growing up I went through some hard times and I really wish I had somebody outside my immediate family just to talk to.”
Special Delivery is a program affiliated with Overlake Christian Church, although Talkish said religion is not a requirement of those that receive help from the organization.
The nonprofit is always looking for donations, monetary or otherwise. Gift cards, maternity clothes, supplies, and volunteer time are all a huge help. Visit www.specialdelivery.org for more information.