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Women in the Workplace: North East Seattle Together (NEST)

There’s a retired chef in Northeast Seattle who, not so long ago, gave up driving. But he still manages to get to the grocery store once a week. And he has help with some of his other chores and needs, thanks to a new organization, a nonprofit that enlists seniors, recruits volunteers and has created a “virtual village.”

NEST members gather for a summer cookout

NEST members gather for a summer cookout

I first heard about the village idea from Debbie Anderson, a former director of senior programs at Overlake Hospital. Anderson is president of the board of directors of NEST, an acronym for North East Seattle Together. She shared her vision with me two years ago.

What we need, she said, is a way for seniors to “age in place.” She thought what seniors lacked was a hand helping them manage chores and responsibilities while remaining in their homes.

At the time – back in February, 2012 – I wished Anderson well and, while I admired her ideas and passion – I confess that I was a little skeptical. For one thing, she hadn’t asked for any city money, just for support. How different was that?

NEST Executive Director Judy KInney

NEST Executive Director Judy KInney

A couple of weeks ago Anderson stopped by City Hall again and brought a surprise. She introduced me to Judy Kinney, the new executive director of NEST. After a little over two years, the organization is up and operating, supplying services to some 94 senior members.

The NEST board hired Kinney to manage the non-profit’s day-to-day operations. She and her staff — one employee and an Americorps volunteer – tap the talents of more than 100 volunteers and vendors, delivering a variety of services such as transportation, gardening, fixing computers, helping with chores or merely becoming a “walking buddy.” NEST serves residents in a dozen Northeast neighborhoods, including Bryant, Maple Leaf, Ravenna and Roosevelt.

From vision to reality, NEST is a women-operated 501c (3) organization, bettering our community, and worth celebrating.

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