West Seattle Senior Center loses $60,000 in funding from United Way of King County

Agency shifting emphasis toward homelessness and families with children

West Seattle Herald 12/9/2015

United Way of King County told 30 groups that it provides funding to that they are going to lose that funding as a result of a shift in emphasis the agency is making. Out of the $1.8 million budget change, $60,000 will be lost by the Senior Center of West Seattle.

The emphasis for United Way will move to include homelessness and programs for children and families UWKC said.

Senior Center Director Lyle Evans said, “ 2016 is a crucial year for the center and we need your assistance. For the last twenty-five years, we have received funding from United Way. Sadly, they have told us that our funding will be cut by $60,000 next year. Our Center is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. We are responsible for raising 75% of nearly $800,000 annual budget. This loss hits hard since we have counted on this stable income”.

We have started a fundraising campaign for $25,000 by the end of the year to help jump start us for 2016. I’ll forward you the email that will be going out this week. We have a donation link on our website www.sc-ws.org also that does give some specifics:

Can you make a donation of $25. To help meet someone’s basic needs – whether it be a week’s worth of hot meal, a warm jacket, or housing alternatives?

Consider a donation of $75 – where that money supports those resources to help our seniors navigate through our challenging medical systems, or to help with legal concerns.

Consider a donation at the $100 level – where that money helps expand one’s horizons. One is never too old to learn!

Consider the donation at the $250 to $500 level where you can truly keep our Center Thriving! All the various levels work off one and another to provide benefits beyond the individual level to creating a community Center that benefits all. We urge you to contribute at a level where you can make a difference.”

The Senior Center plans to recoup the losses by doing more fundraising. Approximately 75% of their program budget is paid for through fundraising efforts already. In fact a brand new fundraising campaign is just being launched.

Cathy MacCaul, director of advocacy for AARP Washington, said United Way officials told her their strategic plan has changed to reflect what donors want to support. MacCaul agreed there’s no lack of worthy causes, but called the move shortsighted. “This is just not the time to do that,” she said. “There is a huge ‘age wave’ that has just begun – more than 10,000 people turn 65 every day, for the next 15 years. So, there will be a dramatic increase in the number of seniors who need these types of services.” MacCaul said there’s concern that other United Way chapters could follow King County’s lead and leave more senior programs scrambling. She pointed out that King County voters just approved a “Best Start” property tax levy, an influx of new money to be used for child and family programs and early learning. Paula Houston, CEO of Senior Services, said that for her organization, the cuts will mean about $800,000 less funding next year for transportation, Meals on Wheels, community dining and more. And this population just isn’t as resilient as young families, she added.

“People don’t see issues of aging, and what happens to people as they age when they don’t have services, as an immediate crisis,” said Houston. “It’s certainly going to be a crisis, because if we don’t have these services, people are going to fall further into poverty, which makes them not be able to stay in their homes.” She said her group expects to curtail services in some cases and start waiting lists. The United Way’s change is planned for June 2016. United Way of King County netted $112 million in its most recent fundraising campaign.

Senior Center of West Seattle

It’s easy to visit the Alaska Junction in West Seattle and not know about all the great activities going on at the Senior Center of West Seattle, also known as “The Jewel of the Junction.” Located above the popular Stop ‘n Shop thrift store just off the corner of Oregon and California, is this vibrant Center that serves thousands of people every year. The thrift store itself is a community gathering place for many seniors and volunteers and also serves as a fundraiser for the Center.

It’s a place where Joyce, West Seattle resident, started working as a volunteer last Fall as a reason to get out of the house more. She started with two days but soon was up to three. “I really like working here,” said Joyce. “It’s a wonderful place with wonderful people.” Joyce does everything from sorting, pricing, ringing up customers, or just talking with those who have a story or two to share.

Kim started coming to the Center just days after she moved to Seattle. Kim taught Business Occupations for many years and although she is 77 and retired she is happy to use and share those skills with others. She also finds she is learning new skills as part of the West Seattle Senior Center community. “I feel valued here,” she said. “It’s a special place.”

On any given week, there are 50+ classes, groups, and events to attend. There are a wide variety of music, arts and computer classes as well. The Center also offers important health services like foot care, blood pressure checks, Reiki, and massage. Delicious, made-from-scratch lunches are served daily in the “Junction Diner,” created by their fabulous chef, Ellen. The Center also has a café where seniors enjoy fresh baked cookies, coffee, made-to-order sandwiches and homemade soup. Lunch is served daily, Monday through Friday, for $3 for those over the age of 60 and $6 for those under 60.

The Senior Center of West Seattle also supports its local community by donating slow moving items from the Stop ‘n Shop thrift store to Tent City (Nickelsville homeless community) and by offering a food bank every Tuesday morning.

The Senior Center of West Seattle will celebrate National Senior Center Month in September by doing what it does best – serving the many people who utilize the senior center every day.