Brighter days ahead:
Expectant couple moving in soon to new HopeWorks site
Chris Sands and Madi Christofferson (center, wearing pink) look at a unit like theirs inside the HopeWorks Station II mixed-use center in Everett on Monday, Oct. 28. The couple is landing on their feet with a new apartment they anticipate they’ll move into in December.
EVERETT — Christopher Fitch Sands Jr. is not due to arrive until Dec. 23, but when he does his home awaits.
“I’m excited for a door that locks,” said Madi Christofferson as she sat with fiancee, Chris Sands, at her side.
The two will marry Aug. 28, and will soon be tenants at HopeWorks Station II, the new center at 3331 Broadway. The units there are co-located with three operational businesses where residents can do
internships, developing new skills and contacts.
A tour gave the expectant couple a feel for what their new home will be like. As a construction tradesman, Sands’ eye was drawn to the building’s sustainability elements. It has 532 solar panels, 87 bicycle stalls, a community recycling program, and has LEED Gold Certification showing a feather-light carbon footprint.
They look forward to their new space, and look back on serious challenges as Hopeworks in Everett prepares to take them in.
The 64-unit space has onsite job training resources with internships. Sands has his sights set on work as a climber, topping trees from heights that would cause some to wince.
“I’m kind of at home in those types of professions,” he said, recalling work as a commercial fisherman, one of the most dangerous professions.
Sands’ last job demanded six 10-hour days a week in construction. He was a fill-in for two companies, whenever they needed help. That impermanent status was part of a six-year struggle to stay off methamphetamines, in a stretch of time that included lapses. His recent work paid the bills. Then, Madi got sick.
“I was diagnosed with hyperemesis gravidarum, which means my body doesn’t process HCG hormones that pregnancy produces,” Christofferson said.
At one point, her doctors were ready to implant a port in her arm, because she couldn’t eat. She was in the hospital twice a week. At first, he said his employers were understanding as he rushed off to be by her side. Eventually, they had to let him go. His recent job loss led to the couple falling behind on rent.
Sands looks calm when talking of his job loss, his risky work, and a motorcycle crash at 90 miles per hour that he walked away from with only a scuff on his helmet and two road-rash scrapes. But when talking of how sick she was, his face looks strained.
“It’s just hard because there’s nothing I can do,” he said, remembering the past eight months.
Whenever she looks a little nervous, his hand finds hers. They are engaged, but he already calls her his wife. Christopher Junior, the baby boy they look forward to meeting in about a month, is thriving.
HopeWorks aims to keep the momentum of those plans flowing by reducing the checklist of worries: Sands has lived in clean and sober housing before, where the ousting time-frame is swift. He said some places give 20 minutes to vacate, and his last eviction from clean and sober housing came with 20 days notice, after a disagreement on when his laundry could be done.
He looks forward to knowing she is safe while he’s away. Christofferson is planning on eventually returning to school to be a K-3 teacher. She started toward the goal before, but “the baby kind of pushed things back a little bit.”
She said she will pick up education plans again, but “there’s no deadline this time. Just kind of when I’m ready.”
“It’ll happen,” Sands said, “I push her to do things.”
His family drives his career plans. As a climber, he can “be home as much as possible with the kids, and for the most part when you’re doing that work it’s 8 to 2, and it’s really good money —
a couple hundred bucks a day.”
The couple met in Narcotics Anonymous, a program that provides an anchor for both of them. He has spent six years working his sobriety; she is approaching the one year mark. Both are comfortable sharing widely, about their path to recovery.
“Anyone who knows me knows I’m in Narcotics Anonymous,” Sands said.
She and Sands both understand what it’s like to have an internal threat. He said he just keeps “trying to be a better me than I was yesterday.”
Asked if they are glad to have a safe place to stay, his thoughts are for her.
“I have a checkered past,” he said calmly. “So, as far as the safety for myself, that doesn’t give me a thought. Now, for her, it’s extremely important.”
For more information about the HopeWorks program, go to hopewrks.org. HopeWorks is an affiliate of Housing Hope, which draws on the holistic concept to providing both housing with housing-related support services such as life-skills training, childcare, case management, and employment services. Housing Hope also offers homeownership opportunities for low-income individuals of Snohomish County and Camano Island.
Find a Narcotics Anonymous meeting by calling 425-609-6170 or go to www.everettna.org
For substance abuse help, call 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or go to samhsa.gov/find-help/national-helpline
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