One day when she was leaving the Centerstone office in downtown Seattle, CEO Andrea Caupain met a homeless man outside the building. She stopped to talk to him and he explained that he couldn’t eat the food he had just picked up from the food bank. He had a week’s worth of fresh food, but no pot to cook it in. So, the next day she brought him a pot from home that he could use to cook his meals with from then on. This interaction reflects the core of Centerstone’s mission: to be a lifeline in the community.
Centerstone began in the '60s as part of the War on Poverty movement. Along with 31 other community action agencies formed in the state, it advocated for low-income individuals’ rights in legislation and provided them with daily necessities through on-the-ground programs. Over the years it evolved and began offering services to anyone in need. Today, Centerstone provides energy, housing, and food assistance for families, seniors, immigrants, and people with disabilities who are having financial difficulties. Staff members pay bills so people can keep their heat on in the winter, provide deposits for people trying to obtain a new apartment, and distribute food at a local food bank. And once a crisis is averted, they also teach individuals life and money management skills.
Youth in Focus hosts free afterschool classes for teens facing a range of challenges, such as low income, addiction, and LGBT identity issues, teaching positive social skills and helping students see themselves through photography. In small classes, professional teaching artists and volunteer adult mentors work with students, encouraging and challenging them as they learn technical photography skills, artistic concepts, and how to use the storytelling quality of images to express themselves. Through photography and with a network of caring adults, Youth in Focus helps young people experience success, which can translate to confidence when they face other challenges.
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Jubilee Women’s Center aims to propel women out of crisis situations by providing the resources to help them achieve safe housing and financial stability. Jubilee's clients live in a long-term community housing program for an average of 14 months. During this time, they can interact with other women experiencing homelessness and work toward new goals in a supportive environment. Jubilee’s education center sponsors classes for more than 50 residents each year in a variety of technology- and skills-oriented subjects including credit repair, word-processing, and interview skills. These programs aim to help women find jobs or increase their incomes so that they can attain stable housing and become self-sufficient.
A group routine at Culture Shakti is intended to be greater than the sum of its individual parts. To accomplish this, Artistic Director Katrina Ji introduces students to the innovative and improvisational art of American tribal-style belly dance. The method draws inspiration from the Romani migration through India, northern Africa, and Spain, combining Flamenco-style arm movements and Egyptian-style hip undulations to create a graceful, seamlessly flowing, and internationally influenced dance style. Most importantly, this type of dance emphasizes the collective and coordinated movements of the group as a whole. Classes cater to students of all ages and skill levels, introducing them to the basic steps and advanced transitions that define the art form. Additionally, the studio offers lessons in Bollywood choreography that explore the dance steps, facial expressions, and hand gestures that comprise a typical routine.
Northwest Harvest took root more than four decades ago when a group of community leaders got together to empower underserved people. The group learned that hunger was one of the largest causes for concern in Seattle and beyond. As the years passed, Northwest Harvest's leaders found that it was more than the underserved populations who experienced food insecurity, and in fact many out-of-work middle-class families were in the same situation. So they worked to establish a partnership network of more than 325 food banks and meal programs to help extend their reach and supply nutritious food to people across the state.
Today Northwest Harvest focuses on delivering healthful meals and teaching families about nutrition while reducing overall hunger in a way that respects individual dignity. With the organization's partnership network, thousands of volunteers prepare more than 1.6 million healthful meals every month with adequate servings of fruit and vegetables. Furthermore, the distribution centers are spaced across the region to ensure rural and urban communities have an equal access to food.
While it’s impossible to know what Seattle’s skyline will look like in the future, the Seattle Architecture Foundation hopes that citizens at least have some input and interest in the developments. To do this, the organization arranges a slew of architecture- and design-related walking tours, lectures, youth workshops, and volunteer opportunities throughout the city. Ideally, the activities help people become more informed and enthusiastic about great design and more willing to become involved when the city finally launches into space.