The holidays are often the time when people look to give back to their community. These 25 nonprofits, big and small, are making big impacts on the Eastside and worldwide.
Homelessness, Poverty, and Adversity
Who they help: Homeless children and families
How they help: Transitional housing and services
Eastside Baby Corner
Who they help: Low-income and homeless pregnant women, babies and kids up to age 12
How they help: Distributes food, clothing, strollers, diapers, beds, and other goods
If you have baby stuff lying around, Eastside Baby Corner wants it! Karen Ridlon started the organization when she was working as a local pediatric nurse practitioner, and babies were going home without proper safety equipment, food, and clothing.
Location: Several Eastside locations
Who they help: Homeless and low-income families in need of homes and stability
How they help: Five multipurpose service centers and five housing sites in north and east King County equipped with food banks and a staff of specialists
The Eastside has a reputation for wealth. Home to billion-dollar corporations, high fashion, fancy restaurants, and even the richest man in the world, it’s grown into a region well known as prosperous. But there’s a flipside.
“Many people are surprised to learn there is poverty on the Eastside,” said Hopelink spokesperson Kris Betker. “We continue to see a steady demand for services in this area. In the Bellevue School District, for example, 1 in 5 kids is enrolled in the free and reduced-price lunch program, so clearly there are a lot of local families that are struggling to get by.”
Hopelink is the largest social services agency serving north and east King County. Its objective is to help low-income families and individuals achieve stability and ensure they have the tools to stay stable. In 2014, Hopelink provided basic services to about 17,500 people in Bellevue, Redmond and Kirkland — including food, housing, and energy assistance. It also has centers in Carnation and Shoreline. The organization’s goal for 2016 is to keep growing.
“Those [clients] I have gotten to know share a sense of gratitude for the simplest things in life — that they have a roof over their heads, and enough food to get by,” said Betker. “Some have even told me that losing everything was the best thing that ever happened to them.”
Who they help: Abused, neglected, and at-risk children and their families
How they help: Housing, counseling, and education for kids and parents
World Impact Network
Who they help: Young leaders living locally and abroad
How they help: Shared resources, and ideas to foster community leaders
Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Puget Sound
Founded: 1957(local chapter)
Who they help: Children facing adversity
How they help: Monitored matches between adult volunteers (“Bigs”) and children (“Littles”) ages 7 through 18
Founded: 1911 (formerly Overlake Service League)
Who they help: Bellevue’s children and families
How they help: Programs that feed, clothe, and educate
Bellevue LifeSpring was started by a group of women living in the city’s earliest neighborhoods in 1911. Back in the day, they’d send goats and farming equipment to struggling families. Today, they provide college scholarships, back-to-school clothes, and meals during school breaks, when many kids go hungry.
Women Facing Abuse, Violence, or Illness
The Pink Daisy Project
Who they help: Young women with breast cancer
How they help: Help with paying for everyday essentials such as gas and groceries
Hannah Simone, who plays Cece on Fox’s The New Girl, is the organization’s celebrity ambassador. “It’s important for young women and mothers fighting breast cancer to know there’s a community of dedicated friends who’ll provide the essentials to help them cope and heal through the everyday challenges of this disease.”
Location: Seattle (and various locations)
Who they help: Women and families facing poverty, violence, and discrimination
How they help: Emergency shelter, affordable housing, economic empowerment, domestic violence support, youth programs, health care access, and more.
The Sophia Way
Who they help: Homeless adult women in King County
How they help: Shelter, case management, programs, and housing
The Sophia Way is the only Eastside program exclusively dedicated to ending homelessness for adult women. Its shelters provide a safe, warm place for women and families with children to sleep.
Teens Facing Challenges
Youth Eastside Services
Who they help: Kids and families coping with emotional issues, drug and alcohol abuse, sexual abuse, dating violence, gang activity, bullying, and more
How they help: Counseling, education, violence prevention, and support
Each year, Youth Eastside Services (YES) helps tens of thousands of kids and their families find the strength to get through crises — whether it’s drug and alcohol addiction, or sexual abuse, and violence. They’re one of the largest providers of youth and family counseling and substance abuse services in the Puget Sound Region. They offer services for free when families can’t pay.
The staff at YES knows how delicate life can be. Some families they work with had what seemed like “picture perfect” lives until disease or drugs shattered their stability. Others are experts on kids who look like they have it all together, straight A’s and athletic achievements, but are struggling with depression on the inside. YES receives support from the community, but every once in awhile they’ll encounter someone who judges their clients as screw-ups.
Patti Skelton-McGougan, YES executive director, said she tries not to take these kinds of people seriously. But she does have an answer for them.
“They weren’t born saying, ‘I want to be bad kids,’” she said. “All kids deserve help when they need it. What are we going to do if we don’t help them? What happens to them if we turn our back on them? What happens to our community if we turn our backs on them?”
Arts and Creative Development
Who they help: Kids
How they help: Music, dance, arts, and workshops to empower kids and develop them as leaders
Music Works Northwest
Who they help: Kids
How they help: After-school music lessons, music therapy, and performance experiences for all ages
Environmental and Community Causes
Wild Fish conservancy
Who they help: Wild fish and their habitats
How they help: Research and advocacy
Advocating for fish isn’t always top-of-mind when people consider important philanthropic causes. But consider this: Since 1991, the U.S. government has listed 27 populations of native salmon, trout, and char as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act. Wild fish have been a huge part of Native American and Northwest culture for thousands of years.
Bridle Trails PARK Foundation
Who they help: Protect the habitat at Bridle Trails State Park
How they help: Environmental and community programs
Healthcare Research and support
The Hope Heart Institute
Who they help: Those at risk or who are suffering from heart disease and stroke
How they help: Research, education, and support
Every 40 seconds someone dies of cardiovascular disease. It’s the No. 1 killer in America. It’s estimated that 68 percent of American adults are overweight, and nearly 32 percent of kids are. The Hope Heart Institute has been growing as a Northwest leader for heart research and education for the last 55 years. In 2013, the organization reached 130,000 kids through its Take Heart programs. It also helps fund researchers and scientists in the Northwest looking for a cure.
Doctor Lester R. Sauvage started The Hope in 1959 as a young, passionate heart surgeon. Known for his kindness, he’s still referred to by some hospital employees as “Saint Sauvage.” With his colleague Dr. Mark Dedomenico, he made major contributions to the development of coronary bypass surgery and artificial replacements for diseased arteries and valves.
Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation
Who they help: Those with or at risk of Crohnís Disease and ulcerative colitis. Both are chronic diseases that affect the digestive system
How they help: Research, education, and support services
Overlake Medical Center
Who they help: Patients and families
How they help: Healthcare and health facilities. The hospital is trying to raise $10 million for a cancer center
Law Enforcement Support
Behind the Badge Foundation
Who they help: Those affected by an officer who has died or suffered injury in the line of duty
How they help: Connect individuals and families with a broad network of ongoing support, providing comfort, and security
When a police officer is killed on the job, it can send a community into shock. Behind the Badge Foundation is a trusted resource during this kind of crisis. They are also the creators of the Washington State Law Enforcement Memorial in Olympia.
Homeward Pet Adoption Center
Who they help: Dogs and cats
How they help: A no-kill animal shelter, rescuing animals, and finding them homes
Homeward Pet Adoption Center, a leading nonprofit animal shelter, helps more than 1,600 homeless dogs and cats find fur-ever homes. All animals are spayed or neutered to help reduce more overpopulation, and are provided with microchips, vaccinations, and basic training if needed. Homeward Pet Adoption Center also has a pet food bank.
“Our pet food bank currently provides pet food and supplies to close to 20 area food banks, and outreach programs, helping to keep pets in their homes,” said Terri Inglis, executive director.
Homeward Pet is proud to be a no-kill animal shelter. With extended medical care and a Behavior Team that works with dogs and cats that need more training, every little furry friend gets a second chance.
“When you look into the eyes of the dogs and cats in the shelter, you can see how most are so thankful to be here instead of where they came from,” said Inglis. “They look to us for safety, comfort, and reassurance that they are loved. And they all just want to be loved.”
Support for Those Living with Disabilities
Who they help: Children and families living with serious medical conditions
How they help: A year-round program with a challenge by choice model where “kids can just be kids”
Everyone deserves a childhood. That’s the motto of Camp Korey, where kids dealing with serious medical conditions can set up an adventure. At the camp, which is free of charge, there’s horseback riding, a climbing wall, ropes course, swimming, arts and crafts, and is accessible for kids of all abilities. In addition to a summer camp, the camp hosts Family Weekends year-round where families dealing with similar illnesses can bond together. There is also a year-round Camp to You outreach program in healthcare facilities in Seattle, Tacoma, and Portland.
“Camp Korey children meet others who understand and are experiencing similar circumstances. Sometimes it is the first time they have ever met anyone with the same condition,” said Connor Inslee, the camp director.
But to keep things at camp carefree and fun, they try to make it so campers don’t have to be reminded that they’re sick.
“Campers are never removed from the fun to take their medication; rather our team of professional medical volunteers bring the medicine to them,” said Inslee.
So, what’s the secret to having so much fun at Camp Korey? Inslee says it all starts with the community.
“We could not deliver the magic of Camp Korey without the community of support we have with our volunteers and donors; they truly make camp possible for the 4,655 campers and families we serve,” he said.
Little Bit Therapeutic Riding Center
Who they help: Children and adults with disabilities
How they help: Equine-assisted therapy and activities
Little Bit is one of the largest full-time therapeutic horsemanship programs in the United States. It works with 230 riders and patients every week. Through riding horses, clients build muscle and bone strength, work on hand-eye coordination, and establish more self-confidence.
Who they help: Children and adults with developmental disabilities
How they help: Early intervention, early childhood education, teen and after-school programs and job training
Strengthening Education and Future Leaders
The Martinez Foundation
Who they help: Minority students
How they help: Teacher diversity and retention through professional development
Who they help: Bellevue’s vulnerable at-risk kids and families
How they help: Partners with Bellevue Schools to provide trained “REACH” coaches that help students succeed
Which nonprofit do you feel good about supporting with time or money? Tell us (and all of our readers!) about it. We know there are many more worth knowing about, so let’s talk!