Cassandra “Cassie” Phillips, 1974—2010
Cassie Phillips was active in the founding of Nickelsville, in WHEEL homeless women’s organizing effort, and in Real Change street newspaper. In addition to selling the Real Change, she was a member of the Real Change Editorial Committee and part of the Real Change Homeless Speaker’s Bureau. She made jewelry, crocheted and read tarot cards, and she was a published poet. Many people greatly miss her.
Cassie got a room at Jubilee Women’s Center just a few weeks before her death. Her leaf is placed at Noel House.
From Anitra Freeman:
I have been trying to write this for a week and a half. I keep stalling. I don’t know how to say it.
Cassie Phillips was one of the founding mothers of Nickelsville. For the first three days, almost continuously, she was the first face every new arrival saw. Campers swept out of their shelter, neighbors checking out the new neighbors, reporters, police, she met everyone with the same greeting: “Are you here to check in?”
Cassie was a passionate speaker: for WHEEL, for the Real Change Homeless Speakers Bureau, for Women’s Day March. She was a contributing member of the Real Change Editorial Committee and a published poet. She was a dear friend, one of the two dearest friends that I asked to “give me away” at my wedding. She was also the first to arrive at the park where our wedding was held, and write a poem for us, which she read during our Reception Picnic.
Sunday, December 12, Cassie died, at 40 years old.
From another friend:
Cassie was on the Editorial Committee of Real Change, and a Student at FareStart. As a Graduate of FareStart I visited with her from time to time during lunch at FareStart. The last outing we had together was to visit the Sculpture Park on the water front. On the way back to downtown we came across a fellow vendor, who was selling old papers ’cause he had no funds to get current issues, and needed some medical supplies for nourishment. I was thinking of helping the guy out, but Cassie beat me to it, using her last few dollars to get the supplies. That’s the character of Cassie, willing to help others with her last few bucks.Cassie was a hard working student and a good Comrade to fellow Real Change vendors, as well as Humanity as a group. Real Change may want to do a story about her, as she was a Bright Star Flying through our lives, full with vigor about the rights of others, and the cessation of suppression of the brightness each of us could be. She was a student at FareStart; those that knew her there and through Real Change shall miss her presence and her subtle tenacity for the struggles of Humanity.
One of Cassie’s poems:
Waiting for the Bus
Standing at the bus stop
I feel a chill run through me
As the night air combines with my exhaustion,
Making me anxious for the bus
which will take me back to the tiny rented room
Where I can crash for a few hours
Before I have to start the long and tiring process
all over again.
I watch a few private vehicles pass by
Longing for their warmth and speed.
I had been there once.
I was the lone driver listening to the radio
Speeding my way back to my comfortable aparrtment.
Yet even those luxuries were tainted by the pressures.
of the 60-hour a week job
that robbed me of the enjoyment of the
possessions it bought me.
I see a car full of young people pass
Reminding me of how I too had once enjoyed
cruising with my friends,
laughing and having fun.
Yet even through my laughter I was filled with worry
about what my future held.
Could I meet the expectations that were set for me?
Would I succeed or would I fail?
Memories flash through my mind-
How did I sink so low?
How did all my hard work and enduring energy
lead me to such a low point?
How could I enjoy life when I was barely making ends meet?
Then I notice the woman across the street
lugging a backpack and two suitcases
filled with all the possessions she owns in this world.
She hurries frantically along
Trying to get to the only shelter still open
Hoping to find a mat still unclaimed on the
hard linoleum floor,
Hoping she’ll have a warm, dry place to sleep tonight.
Suddenly the bus pulls up and I quickly board
Now filled with an overwhelming gratitude
For the warm bed and peace of mind
that is waiting for me at the end of the line.
More Photos of Cassie, from Liz McDaniel of Mary’s Place:
On left, Cassie; on right, Barb of Mary’s Place; center, Carol Schillios (“Carol on the Roof”), who was living in a tent on her roof, in Everett, to raise money for women in Africa.
In Carol’s tent on the roof. From right to left: Cassie, Barb, Liz McDaniel, Pastor Marcia of Mary’s Place/Church of Mary Magdalene. Website for Carol on the Roof
(Click any photo for larger display.)
Cassie & Brandi Lambert were close friends. Their leaves are placed beside each other at 2nd & Bell.
Featured Leaf Decenber 2013
I want to congratulate all the members of WHEEL and the Homeless Remembrance Project. It’s so important to put a smiling human face next to the Leaf. I remember site searching for Nickelsville with her and the old boy…I had a bad flare up and could barely walk…she helped me up the hill (that day I would have bet anything she would outlast me)…yet when push came to shove, she never asked me for my help. I will try to send a photo separately.
I saw Cassie a lot , here and there, mostly through Angeline’s , we both had the same counselor at Healthcare for the Homeless, is why i really noticed her. We may have said hello to one another a time or two. I remember her taking the time to teach a person who didn’t speak english well how to crochet or something like that and the person looking so happy while doing it and started noticing that I would see her more and more helping others , it wasn’t long after I heard of her death and was very upset about it , she had got her life back together , i just couldn’t understand it and wanted to talk to our counselor, of course the counselor can’t talk about others but explained to me that sometimes when people come back from bad places and pull everything back together , that before settling into that new life , disappointment sets in , I don’t know how Cassie died but I remember it scared me so bad , I too was trying to get my life back on track , could this happen to me , I know that is selfish , but Cassie’s death to me will always be confusion and fear . but I remember how she helped so many people too and brightened people’s lives and hopefully she had some great friends who brightened hers as eell, I thunk she did…i hope so