Seattle nurse honored by USA TODAY for advocating for the unhoused

Kimmy Siebens is a person of United states TODAY’s Gals of the Yr, a recognition of ladies who have built a sizeable impression in their communities and across the nation. The plan released in 2022 as a continuation of Gals of the Century, which commemorated the 100th anniversary of women of all ages attaining the correct to vote. Meet up with this year’s honorees at

In her job as a nurse, Kimmy Siebens treats all kinds of problems at Harborview Clinical Centre in Seattle, the state’s only Stage 1 trauma center and catastrophe command hospital. But it really is persons in her have outlying group of Bremerton that attract her attention when she’s not at the hospital. Meeting the wants of residents who are unhoused, and in particular advocating for improved care and standing up for populations most probably to be discriminated towards, have built her a name that numerous neighborhood suppliers contact on when examining an issue experiencing a lot of The us.

Siebens is a Northwest indigenous, growing up on a compact farm on Washington’s bucolic Olympic Peninsula. She still left property to vacation the place in a VW bus and backpack South The usa several instances, only to return to the region she beloved to settle into a nursing profession.

She’s pushed back again in opposition to spiritual-centered social solutions vendors for withholding treatment from LGBTQ inhabitants and lobbied govt companies not to shun shelters or navigation centers in an energy to cover the homeless. At a person issue she started presenting scorching puppies and beans, served from the back again of her truck, to anyone in need.

She runs a nonprofit to assist pet proprietors who are homeless, called Their Voice, and consistently demonstrates up to oppose encampment sweeps that very clear folks away without having offering other methods.

She has been named United states of america Today’s Women of all ages of the 12 months honoree from Washington.

This conversation has been edited for duration and clarity.

Kimmy Siebens poses for a portrait in the middle of Dr. ML King Way in Bremerton where she does a lot of her outreach with the homeless population, on Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2023.
Kimmy Siebens poses for a portrait in the middle of Dr. ML King Way in Bremerton in which she does a great deal of her outreach with the homeless population, on Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2023.
How did your career in nursing influence your work advocating for neighbors who are struggling or without shelter?

My occupation in nursing makes it possible for me to converse up confidently and knowledgeable about my most vulnerable neighbors. My education and learning and job has provided obtain to specialists in a lot of fields of analyze as well as obtain to countless numbers of people I have cared for, in a clinic placing, or on the streets. By them I can see how the housing and homeless disaster has spiraled out of manage. This is from a perspective that does not blame unhoused people today for this incredibly substantial housing and community health crisis.

Nursing has taught me that in purchase for a human being to make a very good conclusion they need to be presented data based mostly on points and genuine data that they can understand. People today will need to see the serious faces and stories of homelessness. I generally believe, if individuals could see what I am observing or encounter what I am suffering from — they would get it.

The deficiency of housing (that persons can pay for) and the lack of expert services, turns into a lot more apparent when people today are sufficiently informed. The misconceptions slide away.

Nursing has also taught me about a person’s fundamental wants to endure, starting off with a roof about your head and all the way up to getting to be an lively member or leader of your group. My perform with unhoused persons has authorized me to walk up coming to the person in disaster. Seeing it from this angle has taught me that even when there are meant safeguards designed into the procedure, far too numerous slide involving the cracks.

Kimmy Siebens
My work with unhoused individuals has permitted me to walk next to the person in crisis. Seeing it from this angle has taught me that even when there are intended safeguards crafted into the program, too numerous slide in between the cracks.

Was there anyone who paved the way for you?

My mom has been a notably solid supporter of me using my voice and speaking up about troubles that concern me considering that I was a kid. She generally built it apparent that even if you really don’t have a ton, there was normally adequate to share, and to handle men and women with kindness.

Volunteers serve food to a line of attendees at a community picnic on Sunday, Oct. 27. Kimmy Siebens, a local homeless advocate, started the free meals a few years ago, serving hotdogs and beans out of the bed of her truck.
Volunteers provide food to a line of attendees at a neighborhood picnic on Sunday, Oct. 27. Kimmy Siebens, a regional homeless advocate, started the free foods a few decades in the past, serving hotdogs and beans out of the bed of her truck.
Austen Macalus / Kitsap Sunlight
What has been your proudest moment in the work that you do?

My proudest times are facilitating those situations when individuals can enable just one yet another. Others normally think that an individual else is likely to cope with it. I want to demonstrate them that “somebody else” is them. This is how we can get much more individuals included and mindful of what it’s actually like doing the job with individuals who dwell outdoors. After people today get to know the reality, they too, will most likely develop into an advocate and treatment additional about this concern and the people it is influencing the most.

I am proud of the times that I have spoken up in opposition to huge organizations when I witnessed mistreatment. For instance, when I spearheaded a condition investigation of a medical center that was later on identified guilty of their mistreatment of their unhoused individuals and their misuse of charity care funding. This is also incredibly major to me for the reason that in retaliation these corporations have tried to induce damage by threatening to hurt my vocation, to report my nursing license with frivolous and created up problems.

I am really very pleased of bringing focus to the abuse of individuals who establish as LGBTQ. 1 area organization’s management was moved close to and the mayor stepped down from his placement on their advisory board as a outcome. I often feel it is far better to be element of the prevalent fantastic relatively than be silent, or complicit with the bad.

What is the biggest challenge in the work you are doing?

Misinformation, preconceptions and fear are all huge worries in the perform I do to help others. Beginning from the pretty higher echelon of our culture, there are a lot of limitations.

I assistance men and women who have requires that can be satisfied if they can be served by the procedure. The superb men and women doing work in just “the system” continue to be silent to the problems a vulnerable human being has utilizing it, due to the fact they are usually funded and graded by the persons running the program. I say it is really like the “Starvation Game titles” out there.

Do you have a guiding principle, or mantra to lean on as motivation?

When needing inspiration I glimpse again to my core values and beliefs. Although they are dependent in empathy and knowing, they are also based mostly in empirical proof. Other persons can not get you down and make you sense like what you are accomplishing is absurd or erroneous when your main self is self-assured that what you are accomplishing is correct. This usually takes constant reassessment of myself and my steps. There is usually space to increase and learn much more, that is really motivating to me.

How do you overcome adversity?

By producing associations with other folks who share my purpose but have unique capabilities and talents. I perform with a tiny handful of women in my local community who are leaders in their possess organizations. Their stamina, their passion, and their want to make our neighborhood a much better spot for everyone will help to preserve me transferring ahead when I am certain that I are not able to. All of us will need a local community to be a portion of.

What advice would you give your younger self?

When you are on to one thing good, there will always be an increase in the total of cynics you come upon. Master to just take this as a compliment. You are on the suitable monitor. They can question you, they can struggle you — but they in no way halt you.