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Hope for the Holidays: Hopelink, Seattle

December 6, 2011

lend a hoping hand

Walking or driving past people in transit, holding signs asking for food, or money, or work, I’m often caught between wanting to help yet not wanting to simply give a handout. Furthermore, I know that poverty exists here in my own neighborhood, that children go to bed hungry, that elderly residents may not be able to pay for heat. Aside from knocking on each door to personally (and embarrassingly) ask who has a need, how am I to find and assist with essential basic needs?

I was recently introduced to Hopelink, a local non-profit that doesn’t merely offer hand-outs, but also a hand-up. Their mission is stated simply: “To promote self-sufficiency for all members of our community.”  The community is, of course, King County, WA, where Hopelink has been in operation since 1971. Residents who receive assistance in order to become self-sufficient include:

  • Homeless
  • Elderly
  • Children
  • People with disabilities
hope link food bank

volunteers at Kirkland foodbank

From energy assistance to food and housing, Hopelink has designed multiple programs to help prevent homelessness and give families the resources they need during difficult economic times. Resources are provided in a way that allows an individual or caretaker in the family to receive help in a dignified fashion. For example, new toys and clothing are made available in the Gift Room (see below) in order that parents or caretakers can select which ones to give their children. The Employment Program helps individuals set goals, develop cover letters, create or revise resumes, develop networking skills, prepare for interviews, and all-around career development.


Want to plug into the community through meaningful service? Hopelink provides lots of volunteer opportunities! Teach ESL, serve at events, sort & stock food banks, tutor children, or transport residents who need to access community services. Hopelink requires all volunteers to pass a background check, attend an orientation training, commit to a minimum of 30 hours and 3 months of volunteering.

Hopelink Turkey Trot

Turkey Trot

Host An Event

In addition to volunteering, businesses and people in the community have formed a number of creative endeavors to help support Hopelink. For example, I was introduced to the nonprofit when I attended a free business workshop in which the presenter asked that a donation be given to Hopelink as compensation for her services. Yesterday, I received an Evite from a former classmate who is hosting a holiday party in lieu of her 6-year-old daughter. Together, they have decided to collect mittens, gloves, hats, and scarves for children in King County. Other fun ways that businesses and community members are raising resources for Hopelink include:

hopelink bag

Have extra food in your pantry?

An easy way to help is by simply filling a bag each month to donate to the foodbank. Hopelink has a special program called Bag-A-Month that sends people who sign up a monthly email listing current needs of the food bank. In December, they tend to need more of the following:

  • Cooking oil
  • Flour
  • Sugar
  • Baking items & mixes
  • Olives
hopelink winter
During the holiday season, especially, more people access the resources of Hopelink. Hopelink enables businesses, churches, and other service centers in the community to give set up Giving Trees.  Donors can choose tags with gift idea suggestions for children. You can alternatively contribute to a Gift Room where families can self-select new items to give their children.
I am glad to have discovered a local nonprofit that members of my community can go to in times of needs, and will be directing people to Hopelink if any of my neighbors report that they are struggling financially. For those who are well-supplied, I want to encourage them to consider volunteering, giving a holiday gift, providing a weekly bag of groceries, or creating an event or service package at their business that will help benefit all those who access the resources of Hopelink!

hopelink logo

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