Volunteer Days are over for 2016, but you can help make back-to-school cool throughout the year!

These are Katherine’s reflections on Project Cool 2016: Last Wednesday, a volunteer placed the final Project Cool backpack into a case manager’s van and I began to reflect on this year’s Project Cool Volunteer Days. As we transition to the next phase of Project Cool, I am able to appreciate Project’s Cool full year cycle and the breadth of people and communities the program touches. We have enjoyed each Project Cool volunteer day, and I feel lucky to have organized, packed and inventoried supplies alongside such fantastic volunteers! As we look forward to the next few months and connecting to community members through supply drives (want to host one where you work or play? Contact Hillary – hillary[at]homelessinfo[dot]org), we know that 1,417 colorful backpacks will enter the first days of school swung over the shoulders of students ranging from Pre-K to 12th grade. Having only joined the Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness a few weeks ago, I entered my first volunteer day with enthusiasm, excitement, and a bit of nervous anticipation of the amount of work to be accomplished in just a week. I could not wait to see the weeks of donation and volunteer coordination I had supported, as well as the year-long effort Hillary and Julia contributed to Project Cool, come to bloom! My expectations were surpassed and my qualms eased by the awesome volunteers that arrived with enthusiasm for each shift. I feel hopeful for the future of the children that Project Cool serves after discussing many volunteers’ commitment to ending homelessness. Over the past week I learned more fully how raising a child can require mobilization from an entire community. Participants demonstrated how volunteering quickly builds community amongst initial strangers. Participants bonded over their passion for service to form productive, fun work teams. For many of …

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Recap: Families with Children Meeting – KidsPlus Training and Coordinated Entry for All – June 22, 2016

Big thanks to all who were able to join us for last month’s Families with Children committee meeting. As always, it was great to see a room full of familiar and new faces! We were joined by Mary Dunbar from Kids Plus (Public Health – Seattle & King County), who offered a training on working with guests to address their mental health needs. Danielle Winslow (All Home) provided timely Coordinated Entry for All updates with the group. Highlights and resources from these two folks are below: A list of mental health services available for children can be found here. The YMCA also operates the Children’s Crisis Outreach Response System (CCORS), which offers urgent crisis outreach as well as short-term stabilization resources to children and youth in King County, as well as their families. King County Mental Health’s wraparound services offer additional supports to children to help stabilize them in the community. More information and application processes for this program can be found on the King County website. Adults and folks of all ages can access mental health services at the locations listed on this document. The Crisis Clinic is an excellent resource for folks to call if in need of immediate crisis help, and they also provide information about suicide warning signs and crisis intervention strategies. King County Crisis and Commitment Services are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to provide initial outreach services to folks not already accessing outpatient care in King County as well as evaluation of people with mental disorders for possible involuntary detention in psychiatric facilities according to the mental illness law in the State of Washington. Throughout King County and the state of Washington, low-cost and free clinics are available for folks to access mental and physical healthcare needs. Mary suggests looking into Consejo, Cornerstone, and Project Access Northwest …

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Able-Bodied Adults without Dependents – ABAWDs – Food Stamp Requirements

Changes to requirements for Able-Bodied Adults without Dependents (ABAWDs) receiving Food Stamps went into place on January 1, 2016. Sara Robbins and Katie Scott, Benefits Attorneys at Solid Ground, have kept the Coalition in the loop with requirements and exemptions to this policy, and provided resources for service providers and clients. This policy change impacts ABAWDs in Snohomish, King, and Pierce County (except for Tacoma and Lakewood). Please read below for information about the changes, and for information about how you can support your clients. Feel free to read, review, and print handouts with information for clients, service providers, and about work requirements and time limits. **IMPORTANT UPDATE: Individuals that are homeless and unable to work can self-report that they are homeless to DSHS. DSHS should not require any further documentation regarding homelessness. Individuals should be able to report this information to anyone at DSHS both in the Community Service Offices (CSO) and over the phone through the call center. Please contact Family Assistance at Solid Ground at (206) 694-6742 if this is not actually happening. Here are some important highlights for service providers and clients: ABAWDs who do not meet certain work requirements will only be able to receive 3 months of food stamps in any 36 month period. These policy changes came into effect on January 1, 2016, meaning that the first round of ABAWDs will lose their benefits on April 1, 2016 (after the first three months of 2016). Seemingly all people who receive food stamp benefits from DSHS received letters notifying them of a loss of benefits at the end of the first 3 months of 2016, regardless of their status as an ABAWD. (See an example of this letter here.) This means that: Some clients who are not ABAWDs received this letter. They should call their local CSO to speak to …

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Recap: Single Adults Advocacy Committee 11/12/15 meeting: Employment Opportunities with the Diversity Initiative

At our last Single Adults Advocacy Committee meeting, we were joined by Sarah Rothman, Diversity Business Partner with the Northwest Center at Amazon. The Northwest Center seeks to create a pathway to employment by breaking down barriers, and Sarah works to connect people with disabilities to quality employment through the diversity initiative. Everyone who is referred to the Northwest Center will be offered an interview with Sarah to determine a best fit for them and the potential employer. After interviews, Sarah provides next-step actions for the candidate, including interview and agency feedback. Employment opportunities through the Northwest Center often involve customer service experience, and include cashier, mailroom, food service, and reception positions, among others. More information on open positions can be found on the Northwest Center’s website. The Northwest Center and Sarah welcome referrals from service providers. Please reach out to Sarah if you would like more information regarding the initiative programs or to refer a client! You can reach Sarah at srothman[at]amazon[dot]com. Thanks again, Sarah! Member updates from the meeting: Hayden Bass, Outreach Program Manager with the Seattle Public Library: the Seattle Public Library is seeking to connect their programs with existing community organizations. Email Hayden at hayden[dot]bass[at]spl[dot]org to learn about the Library’s current outreach or to seek expansion with your organization. Coalition updates from the meeting: 2016 will be a  year of case manager trainings: If you’re interested in participating in a small workgroup or committee for planning these 3-4 trainings, be on the lookout for applications coming out in the next couple of months. One Night Count is kicking into gear: Learn about the different ways to get involved on our website. Area Leads are in the process of contacting past team captains to confirm their participation for 2016 ONC. Take ACTION!: On Tuesday, the City of Seattle Councilmembers voted unanimously to add $2.265 million to the City’s …

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Recap: Youth and Young Adults 11/10/15 meeting: Seattle Public Library Programs and Partnership Opportunties

Big thanks to Shelley Mastalerz and Summer Hayes from the Seattle Central Library’s Children’s and Teen Services for joining us at our YYAC meeting last Tuesday, November 10! At the meeting, Shelley and Summer shared with us some of the current events/opportunities that the Seattle Public Library (SPL) hosts, and some opportunities for developing community partnerships. Every Thursday afternoon, from 3pm-5pm, the Central Library hosts a youth drop-in, put on by a partnership between the Library and New Horizons Ministries. This time was created to fill a gap in time where drop-in hours were not available at New Horizons. SPL is seeking to expand programs such as this, and we enjoyed discussing what this growth could look like. Some of the ideas from the group included advertising the resource by visiting current drop-in centers and passing on the word, creating an easily accessible resource center as part of the Teen Center, diversifying available activities, and offering incentives for youth to visit the Teen Center during Thursday drop-in times. Shelley and Summer hope to form more community partnerships and work with youth and young adult service providers, so please reach out to them with ideas, questions, or to work towards beginning a partnership with them. Contact the Seattle Public Library’s Children’s and Teen Services with teencenter[at]spl[dot]org. Thanks again, Shelley and Summer! Member updates from the meeting: Trevor with Friends of Youth: Drop-in hours at Friends in Youth are changing from the previous time of 11am-2pm to a later time of 2pm-5pm. Matthew with United Way: United Way will be housing a youth Community Resource Exchange on January 28, 2016. Programming and resources for this exchange are being developed. If you have ideas, questions or suggestions, please reach out to Matthew at mridgeway[at]uwkc[dot]org. Coalition updates from the meeting: 2016 will be a  year of case manager trainings: If you’re …

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Julia’s reflection on the 2015 Homeless and Formerly Homeless Youth Advocacy Summit

Six weeks into my internship with the Coalition on Homelessness, and my experiences have been above and beyond any of my expectations a month ago. Two weeks ago, I was excited to be a part of the 10th Annual Homeless and Formerly Homeless Youth Advocacy Summit (October 5-6, 2015). While doing advocacy work in Minnesota, I learned that I would constantly learn and grow by witnessing folks advocate around issues that impact their lives, and my time at the Youth Advocacy Summit proved to be no exception to this rule! Having just supported the Coalition’s 2015 Voter Registration drive, one of the highlights of the Summit for me was witnessing young people choosing to participate in advocacy by exercising their right to vote. Over the course of the Summit, I was particularly excited to watch people think in a different, new way about voting. On the first day of the Summit, one participant was pretty vocal in their choice to not register to vote, feeling that their vote wasn’t enough to make change. Through conversations with other Summit participants, discussions about our elected officials in city and county government, and time to reflect, this participant changed their mind and decided to register! They are ready to have their voice heard in the upcoming election, and will do so through their vote as well as their conversations with Councilmembers during and beyond the Youth Advocacy Summit. Participants at the Youth Advocacy Summit took on no small task! I was impressed by these advocates’ commitment over two very full days (three days for Peer Leaders!) of discussing some of the hard work that needs to be done in this community. Advocates worked on and presented one of four issues throughout the Summit: 1 – Need for an increase in the numbers of available permanent and affordable housing units 2 – Issues specifically impacting People of …

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