Last Thanksgiving, we sat around a dining room table with members of our community, holding hands and giving gratitude for the many blessings. Lincoln, who has struggled for years with mental illness and homelessness said how grateful he was for food. Israel, who was incarcerated for 22 years, shared his appreciation for being able to eat until he was full. There was also thanks for candlelight, since “you’re not allowed to have any candles in prison.” Others expressed gratitude for a warm, dry place to sleep and being in the company of friends. The little things truly are the biggest of things.
One year later, as we approach another Thanksgiving, we’re thrilled by the positive impact of another year of belonging! We have some time-sensitive needs, so please join our $25,000 year-end campaign to help us continue our work of providing resources, tangible support and emotional “glue” for those marginalized and living on the edges of our own neighborhoods.
A few successes from 2019 include:
- Becoming a Washington State non-profit!
- Assisting individuals secure safe, supportive housing in our Restorative Home
- Helping individuals network and find full-time work
- Building kinship with allies of all backgrounds through weekly community potlucks and circles
- Celebrating birthdays, holidays and special events such as hearing Father Greg Boyle from Homeboy Industries speak at Seattle University
- Enjoying time outdoors at Kubota Gardens, Seward Park, Alki Beach and elsewhere in nature
- Supporting individuals to secure driver’s licenses, birth certificates and photo ID
- Creating community partnerships with other organizations
- Speaking at various community forums to build awareness around incarceration and reentry
- Learning how to share feelings and needs and staying in the conversation, even the tough ones
As proud as we are of these accomplishments, we’ve also missed some opportunities, mainly due to capacity constraints. We’ve lost a few participants in our program who would have benefited from additional 1:1 support and help accessing resources, especially around addiction issues. Our thin financial margin also makes it impossible for us to “hold beds” for the many people seeking a release address from prison or those trying to move from one transitional home to another. Currently, we all operate as volunteers and need help bringing our organization to the next level through business and program development.
Another immediate opportunity is raising enough funds to secure a larger, 2nd “Restorative Home” that can provide safe, stable housing for 8 individuals. We’ve found a potential property with a move-in date of December 1st but need funds in hand for first and last month’s rent + a large security deposit and additional money for moving and furniture acquisition. The clock is ticking!
Go to communitiesofbelonging.org to subscribe and learn more. Thank you for your generous support in helping Communities of Belonging continue to blossom and grow so we can increase our further impact!