Our Stories -- Manh

My name is Manh. I was born on my parents’ journey from Laos to Thailand and raised in Seattle. I’m still not a citizen. It takes a lot of paperwork to become naturalized.

Right out of high school, I began working at a restaurant. I was employed by the restaurant for 13 years.  I was let go in 2010. After working for a company for 13 years, you don’t think the termination will be so brief, short, and abrupt.

I applied for unemployment. I was turned down on my first attempt, they told me something about my employer contesting my unemployment and giving a different reason than I did for why I was fired.

I considered filing an appeal all by myself, but there was so much paperwork I got intimidated. I found that there were free lawyers available to help people who had been denied unemployment. With their help, I appealed the unemployment denial and finally won--five and a half months after my employment ended.

I didn’t want to trouble family and friends, but the bills kept piling up. I basically closed myself in my house and did not come out for anyone. It got to a point where my sister came by and was banging on my window saying “I am your sister and I love you, open the door.”  She said even if I didn’t talk to anyone, could I at least answer the phone when she called and let her know I was still alive. I said “O.K.  I’m alive,” and closed the door.

I just didn’t feel like being bothered by anyone.

My sister sat me down and said, “You will live with me. If you go back to school, I will take care of you.”  So, I moved back in and began helping her with babysitting and things like that.

Because someone had reached out to me and given me support, I finally decided to pursue a degree and become a surgical assistant.

That is when things started looking up again and I began to feel back on my feet. My adviser at Seattle Central Community College referred me to the Women’s Center. I learned how to be more successful in my education and I also got information on tuition help and fees. I started to feel better when I saw a path to success.