Last week I had the chance to participate in one more reminder about how generous this community is. The food bank in the Uptown neighborhood – in the shadow of Seattle Center – had a ceremony to celebrate its successful reopening, after financial woes forced it to close last November.
Sacred Heart of Jesus, a Catholic Church in Uptown (formerly known as Lower Queen Anne) has hosted a food bank for many years. With the support and assistance of Food Lifeline, nearby grocery stores, and the people of the parish, the food bank provided not only groceries, but breakfasts and lunches for the hungry. It operated with lots of great volunteer energy from its faith community, and a single full-time employee. The monthly budget was only $2500.
But last November, the program ran out of funds, and had to lay off the coordinator, Elise Hale-Case, who has been running the program for the last few months, since graduating from Mount Holyoke College. The food bank was scheduled to close after Thanksgiving.
Then the generosity kicked in. Articles about the closure appeared in the Seattle Times and the Queen Anne/Magnolia News. A television station ran a report. Elise decided to make an appeal on the programs web site, www.queenannefb.org
Emails, phone calls, letters, and personal donations poured in. The web posting attracted people to donate from all around the country, but most of the donations came from right here, in our wonderful city. The goal was to raise enough money to fund the organization for two years, $100,000, and they are just about there.
This is a small food bank, serving around a hundred people a day. But it is important to those who are in need. And I am very grateful to those who rallied around to keep it open.
The official reopening was a short and sweet ceremony with a couple of dozen volunteers, members of the fund-raising committee, and the priests from Sacred Heart. I thanked all of them – and all those who donated – on behalf of the City. We are committed to do all that we can as a City to provide food, shelter, and social services to the people of our City who need help, and our voters have pitched in on many occasions to support that effort. Those public services are very important.
But our community thrives because of the volunteers and donors who step up to the plate in so many ways for the myriad of voluntary organizations like the food bank at Sacred Heart. That’s what makes Seattle such an extraordinary place.