West Seattle Helpline Programs
Since 1989 the Helpline has been offering financial aid and referral advice that can save residents from homelessness, hopelessness, and hunger.
The West Seattle Helpline is funded by many individuals, businesses, and churches within the West Seattle Community. The agency has only one paid employee and is staffed primarily by a corps of volunteers who care about the needs of their neighbors.
The West Seattle Helpline assists families and individuals by providing financial aid, a referral system designed to align demonstrated/verified needs with available resources, clothing, school supplies for children, and bus passes. The goal is to minimize the negative impact of unexpected circumstances on families.
Through our Financial Assistance program we help families recover financially from an emergency that causes a financial hardship. Rather than falling into a cycle of incurring debt and late fees, the Helpline gives families the assistance they need to move forward and become empowered to make financially sound decisions. This will help to prevent families from having limited options on housing and from becoming homeless.
The West Seattle Helpline’s Clothesline program provides in style clothes that are suitable for job interviews, back to school attire, formal events, and for every-day life in a friendly, safe, and comfortable environment. Many families facing poverty choose one basic need such as food over another such as clothing in order to get by. We want to change that by giving any family the privilege of shopping for three outfits per family member every two months.
Our school supplies program gathers school supplies from community members and community organizations such as churches and local businesses. We also do a school supplies fundraiser event and purchase school supplies. The school supplies is donated to 11 West Seattle schools to be distributed to students in need.
Recent Successes and Current Challenges
One of our recent successes was acquiring a grant to have two VISTA positions through AmeriCorps to serve as Community Outreach Coordinators. This is a very big step for our organization because we will now have the capacity to make a much larger impact with 110 hours of staffing per week as opposed to only 30 hours per week. With the VISTA members starting September 2, 2011, this will be the first time in the West Seattle Helpline’s history that we will have more than one staff member. The VISTA members that we have hired each have a background in fighting poverty through nonprofit work. They are both young leaders who have already made a huge difference in their community. We are very excited to be investing in their future as leaders in advocating for those facing poverty.
Currently, we need to find foundations and corporations that would like to invest in our organization. The amount of families that have contacted us regarding financial assistance has risen dramatically this year and with limited financial assistance we are only able to help a portion of those that fit our mission with financial assistance. Although we are well supported by individual donors in the Seattle community, we have not seen the same level of support from foundations and corporations. We need to change this in order to better address the needs within the community.