It’s been an especially cold winter. No one knows that better than those fighting the elements and living outside, as well as the staff at REACH Center of Hope in Renton and the Auburn Food Bank and Shelter.
Homelessness is on the rise in King County. Last January, One Night Count reporting almost 11,000 living without a home, which was an increase from years prior.
REACH is a safe space to recharge, get warm and clean, while receiving mentorship and assistance in job application or skill set preparation. But this isn’t a place to come and just use the amenities. Here, personal responsibility and leadership are taught through chores and a sense of community, shared by all. For use of showers and washing machines, participants contribute to helping keep the Center running smoothly for everyone, while adding a sense of normalcy and comfort to their lives.
Designed especially to help mothers, children and boys over the age of 12, they even offer to fill their participants shopping lists right in their facility, with supplies donated by families and other businesses in the nearby areas. Every morning kids are taken to school in a shuttle straight from the Center, while mothers can get the training or help that they need to get back on their feet.
Auburn Food Bank and Shelter is nearing a decade away from running for a full century. Established in 1930 after a fire took a family’s home and belongings, it has always organized the community in times of emergency with resource distribution. Providing assistance like food and supplies, they foster a level of respect and tenderness that allows people to feel a sense of self-worth and peace. You could see it on the faces of the visitors and those working to aid them, smiles and a feeling of family, a community, together to make it better, even just one person at a time.
Visiting the Auburn Food Bank and Shelter showed first hand how many people use and need their services- although open daily at 9 am- a line formed out the door, waiting for the facility to open the morning we had arrived to drop off our donation.
Busy with deliveries and services, we were unable to get a tour- but it was clear- you can’t always tell who is homeless or needs help with just your eyes. The people present appeared to look like your schoolmates or even a grandmother. For many, homelessness was not something they clearly wore on their face. You would never know it.
The Evergreen Market operates with four core values including Integrity, Respect, Community and Passion. There is a familial feeling in the day-to-day activities between staff, customers and management. Community is the essence of what we represent, and wanted that to be clear in our actions and presence in the state.
Nearing almost two years of business in Renton and one year in Auburn, the season to give was upon us. Originally planning to close our doors for Christmas, the staff voted to work on a volunteer basis- those who wanted to stay at home or be with their families would not be scheduled, others wanting the hours, had the opportunity to work. All profits from both locations were donated to REACH Renton and Auburn Food Bank and Shelter.
Although easy in this situation, one problem facing the cannabis industry and involvement in giving back is the opposition in receiving funds by charity organizations. In many situations, this is not intentional, but circumstantial. Many charities are federally funded or grant receiving, and since the Federal Government still views cannabis in the same category as heroine, they are unable to receive funds from a group associated with cannabis.
In the past, The Evergreen Market has volunteered at pet rescue events through Emerald City Pet Rescue and we look forward to organizing our own community and park cleanups in the near future.
With the change in political power, the future is unclear, but as we continue to come together with love, respect and peace, we know we can build a strong and evergreen community.
Written By: Masha Brown
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