Senior Center of West Seattle launching fundraising campaign to compensate for what it’s not getting from United Way

The Senior Center of West Seattle‘s end-of-year pitch for donations isn’t your everyday end-of-year pitch.

This year, the center is trying to make up for $60,000 it’s not getting from United Way of King County.

That was the West Seattle center’s share of $700,000 that UWKC gave Senior Services last year.

Next year, SS isn’t getting that at all, because UWKC has decided not to fund general-purpose organizations – instead, a spokesperson told us, they’re focusing on a new strategic plan with missions such as helping end homelessness and raise graduation rates.

General funding of services for senior citizens, for example, just doesn’t fit, explained United Way of King County spokesperson Jared Erlandson when we called to ask the reason for the cuts. He said the organization is focusing on spending that can have a direct effect on problems and challenges, rather than spreading the dollars thinly. But Senior Services points out that the elder population is swelling, and, SS spokesperson Karen Bystrom points out, seniors are also a vulnerable population. (SS is not the only organization affected – in all, $1.7 million in funding that goes to 30 organizations is being redirected by UWKC, and they’re not all senior-focused organizations.)

In the meantime, the West Seattle center is trying to raise $25,000 for starters by year’s end. The theme is “keeping the Senior Center thriving.” Center executive director Lyle Evans says WSSC is “responsible for raising 75 percent of the nearly $800,000 annual budget. This loss hits hard since we have counted on this stable income.”

The center is a 501(c)3 organization, so contributions are tax-deductible. Its programs include feeding dozens of local seniors every day in the center’s “Junction Diner.” The center also offers programs that help seniors deal with challenges such as finding affordable housing. And they offer fun, too, from dances to bingo to movies. Right now, they’re just hoping to rustle up the funds to keep all that going.