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, we celebrated a Thanksgiving meal with 3 abundant tables and a larger, grateful community! 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 to date include:
- Becoming a Washington State non-profit!
- Providing safe, supportive housing for 14 individuals in our Restorative Home
- Gathering with allies of all backgrounds for more than 80 weekly community potlucks and circles!
- Recognizing and valuing a broad community of diverse faiths, races, ages and sexual orientations
- Helping individuals network, find and keep full-time work
- 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 vital community partnerships with other organizations
- Speaking at 3 Community Conversations and other forums to build awareness and humanity 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 additional individuals. There is tension between finding and acquiring a property that meets geographic and other Department of Correction stipulations before our current house and several others in the neighborhood are scheduled for demolition as part of a gentrification project. As you might imagine, this uncertainty fills our community with anxiety especially during this chilly holiday season.
Thank you for your generous support in helping Communities of Belonging continue to deepen our impact, blossom and grow!