Finding More Than Home | One Benu Guest’s Journey to Live Again


Benu Community Home, much like our multi-pronged mission at ACLT, exists as a beacon of hope for those grappling with the trials of housing insecurity. This culturally responsive sanctuary, as narrated by a guest who found solace within its walls, stands as a testament to Africatown Community Land Trust’s commitment to address the deep-rooted systemic inequities faced by Seattle’s unhoused communities.  

The upcoming stories about Benu and one of our guests, unfolding over the next few days, vividly capture the realities, challenges, and successes experienced by individuals directly benefiting from the services offered by ACLT. These narratives not only highlight the relentless efforts of our staff, dedicated to serving those in dire need, but also emphasize the invaluable contributions of our community members who play a crucial role in fulfilling this mission. For safety and privacy reasons, some names in these stories may be altered.

Meet Dwight – one of over 200 Benu Community Home guests who have crossed the threshold of the shelter since opening in the fall of 2021.  With hopes of finding safe haven, Dwight walked away with more than hope or safety. Join us for Dwight’s 3-part newsletter series as we share a glimpse of his journey this week.

Like so many of us, Dwight has many dreams and aspirations for where life will take him.

“I  was broken. No path forward. I’d been this way before but not this grim. Before Benu, I didn’t think I would make it…”

As the doors of Benu open, he doesn’t know what awaits him on the other side. He wonders if his ambitions, the visions long lost in his life, might return. It’s all he has left, having lost everything else, including all hope.

Broken. Lost. Full of heartache, resentment, regret and disbelief, I was at a new low in life.  Feeling despair was familiar, yet this depth was foreign.  My life had once again fallen apart but this time, the aftermath held a new level of vulnerability. In the cross hairs of homelessness and the criminal legal system, through a court-ordered release, I found myself at this unknown place called Benu. I was greeted at the door and welcomed into the building and began the intake process.”

Dwight begins his journey in the same way most of our Benu guests do, but we’ll soon learn that what he discovers at the end is far more personal and restorative then he ever imagined.


As part of the 40.1% of men in WA who experience homelessness (National Alliance to End Homelessness, 2022), Dwight discovers what it means for him to find hope in the midst of dark times.

“I was broken. No path forward. I’d been this way before but not this grim. Before Benu, I didn’t think I would make it…”

When reflecting on his time at Benu, Dwight shares that there were moments when he wasn’t sure if he’d make it and one time in particular, when he thought his time had come to a premature end:

“[One month] I found myself lost, confused and struggling with mental health…even amid the great community at Benu I found myself isolating and trying to avoid others.”, he shares.

Dwight’s case manager and another case manager took notice of the shift in his disposition and invited him into their offices for a conversation.

“I sat down on a chair, my eyes began filling with fluid. I thought to myself ‘here we go’. I must have drawn too much attention. I must be on their radar and may be asked to exit.”

What happened that day for Dwight, could not have been further from an exit.

As he sat in the chair of his case manager’s office sharing many of the internal struggles he’d held onto for weeks, his greatest fears turn into his greatest triumphs. Dwight realizes that the way out of the hopelessness he had involuntarily slumped into was through the inclusion of the community that had become an integral part of his life and now, consequently, his transformative healing.

Equipped with the support of those closest to him at the time, Dwight received the reassurance he needed to continue on the path to progress he could only have dreamt of experiencing upon his initial intake to Benu.

“In the meeting, Terry and Sophia were not just my case managers – they were the non-judgmental community I needed. Hopelessness transforms into glimmers of hope. Despair reconfigures into resilience. I appreciate how I am treated by advocates and am respected as a person.”, he shares.

Taking cues from trauma-informed design directives – from the outdoor water features that greet you upon entry, to the use of natural materials and wall art displaying encouraging affirmations – Benu offers a healing environment that acknowledges and supports the complex journey towards recovery and self-sufficiency for its guests.

Dwight’s testimonial of his time at Benu affirms this intentionality as he shares: “Not only has Benu provided shelter but [it has provided] a sense of belonging and a welcoming environment.”

The hallway in the lobby of Benu Community Home features the image of the Benu bird-a symbol of rebirth, regeneration and renewal-the bedrock upon which the mission of Benu Community Home is built.

As he confronts the challenges of overcoming addiction and mental illness, Dwight guides us along a path marked by openness and honesty. His journey, though fraught with difficulties, provides a candid and uplifting example of resilience and hope. Through sharing his experiences, he offers us a genuine and moving account of his struggle and and ultimate triumph.

“I am grateful to Benu for giving me a sanctuary to re-establish my faith during a time of hopelessness…thanks to Benu, I have hope. Hope is precious. Precious like the first drop of rain from the heavens after an extensive drought season. Thanks to Benu, a drop of rain in a drought season has comforted me.”

This is the transformative power of community.

As we reflect on Benu’s symbolic mission of rebirth, regeneration, and renewal, we not only honor the indelible impact of our case managers and staff but also celebrate the courageous choices Dwight made during his journey as a guest at Benu. His growth epitomizes the power of our mission

This may be the end of this series but it’s not the end of Dwight’s story nor your chance to support our ability to continue to provide more guests like Dwight the opportunity to experience what healing, hope and home can mean.

Here are just a few ways you can continue to support:

  • Donate to our Build Legacy: Shaping Our Future, Together campaign today.

  • Purchase hygiene and toiletry items for Benu guests from the Benu Amazon list.

  • Become an ACLT volunteer.

  • Share these stories and our newsletter with friends and family and ask them to sign up to receive our updates and encourage them to support.

Read more about Benu at

Stay tuned and join us next week as we highlight more stories of impact for William Grose Center for Cultural Innovation (WGC)!

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