Three years after Shannon Livingood left a 20-year violent marriage tragedy struck again, causing her and her three children to become homeless. Then, after a nervous breakdown, she started missing work.
“It just takes someone missing two paychecks and then you’re done,” she said. “It’s almost impossible to get back into housing at that point.”
“I never thought that at 43 years old, with a bachelor’s degree, that I would be on the streets with my three kids,” she added. “It didn’t make sense to me — not being able to receive help made it even worse.”
Since Livingood’s sons were over the age of 13, she said she was never able to be placed in a shelter during the 13 months they were homeless.
But Livingood worked hard to make sure her children always had somewhere to sleep.
“I had my kids stay at different friends houses; we were all couch surfing,” she said. “I would sleep in my car at times, but I never let my kids know that. They had enough stress and they were trying to go to school.”
While homeless, Livingood and her children started brainstorming and dreaming about building a domestic-violence shelter of their own design.
That day finally came after Livingood and her family were finally placed in housing.
On July 24, 2018, Livingood started Pathways To Living Good, which focuses on helping furnish houses of people who were originally living on the street.
Pathways To Living Good has helped furnish the homes of 113 adults and 147 children since its launch.
“My biggest fear and one of my biggest motivators is, after transitioning back into housing, people will be sitting inside this apartment with all these white walls,” she said.” I try to make their houses feel like a home as quickly as I possibly can.”
The only requirement Livingood has for families to pick up furniture is that they are referred to her by an agency she can trust. She never asks about why they need help.
“I won’t make them tell me their story, however, if they want to share I’m here to listen,” she said. “This is for people who are trying to get their lives back. It’s amazing to help.”
Livingood runs Pathways To Living Good from four storage units, split between two locations: two units at Additional Self Storage and two units at West Coast Self-Storage of Padden Parkway. She is currently working with 900 square feet of space, and each inch is always full of supplies, “My problem is that so much time is wasted on having to dig and pull out to get to different things.” she said.
Pathways To Living Good runs on donations, and due to lack of space, Livingood sometimes has to turn donations away.
“The community has been very supportive of me,” she said.
In an effort to expand her business, Livingood is looking for a warehouse where families can easily come in and pick the items they need.
Currently, Livingood charges $50 for families to come in and pick all the furniture and accessories they want.
“It’s been incredible, the people I get to meet,” she said. “It’s cool because they come and they will be standing here and you can tell they are really nervous. They are shaky and they don’t feel right about asking. It’s hard for people to ask for help. I just say ‘Honey I’ve been there, I was homeless for 13 months, I get it. That is why I do this.’”