Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and Helpline Executive Director Lisa Moore.
Photos by Don Milgate and Marty Perlman.
Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and Helpline Executive Director Lisa Moore. Photos by Don Milgate and Marty Perlman.

Despite predicted high winds and possible power outages, the annual Taste of Queen Anne fundraiser for the Queen Anne Helpline went ahead as planned on Oct.15. A sell-out crowd of more than 250 people gathered in Banchero Hall at St. Anne Catholic Church, raising a record $160,000 in support of the Helpline’s programs, which include rental, deposit and utility assistance for individuals and families facing financial crisis, basic needs assistance, bus tickets and an ever-growing Weekend Food for Kids program that addresses weekend hunger in school children.

“Everywhere we look we see a homelessness crisis,” said Helpline Executive Director Lisa Moore. “We at the Helpline are laser focused on preventing homelessness.”

The Helpline offers immediate and compassionate assistance to the Queen Anne, Magnolia and South Lake Union neighborhoods, while also addressing root causes of homelessness through case management, moving clients to self sufficiency. In the past two years, the Helpline has helped move 45 households into permanent housing. That’s 120 individuals, including many families and veterans, now with a roof over their heads. The Helpline also prevents more than 500 evictions annually.

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray addressed the crowd, giving the Helpline an enthusiastic endorsement for its success in preventing homelessness.

“When I became mayor, the Obama Administration came to Seattle and pointed out to me that what we are doing here about homelessness is absolutely the wrong thing,” Murray said, addressing the larger crisis facing our area. “We need to stop funding those things that don’t work and start supporting those that do, and the Queen Anne Helpline does.”

In a moving and personal testament to the Helpline programs, former Helpline client Violet Lavatai described how after a lifetime of working she lost her job, then her apartment, forcing her to live in her car with her young son, her voice shaking at times as she described the fear and humiliation during this period.

“I was willing to work. Anything!” she said to the hushed crowd. “Being homeless with my son really affected me.”

After gaining access to subsidized housing, she earned an accounting degree, only to find herself once again facing a crisis, this time over exorbitant school, sports and extracurricular fees for her son.

“I could pay these fees, or pay my rent,” she said. “I was terrified of becoming homeless again.”

Someone told her of the Queen Anne Helpline.

“I was ashamed to ask for help,” she said,” but what I found was love, compassion and immediate support.”

The Helpline supported her through this temporary crisis and kept her in her home.

The crowd gathered in the hall responded generously. Spectacular small portions of house specialties were donated and served by 22 area restaurants.  Emcee David Silverman kept the evening lively throughout the raffle and small live auction, interspersed with jazz from the Tim Kennedy Trio. The Taste has become a wonderful annual community event, enjoyed by sell-out crowds in support of neighbors facing financial crises. Area volunteers — neighbors, businesses and college students — work hard to ensure a fun, festive and successful event year after year.

Corporate and business sponsors also provided funding, headlined by Title Sponsor HomeStreet Bank, along with Metropolitan Market, Amazon, Vulcan, Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, Union Bank, Siderius Lonergan Martin LLP; Aegis Living of Queen Anne, Bayview Community, Emerald Bay Equity, Ron Wright & Associates, Quantitative Social Science, Ellen Gillette, Windermere Real Estate/Wall St. Group, Sellen Construction, Ken Graff Realtor, Coldwell Banker, and Rafael Carrabba Violins. Table sponsors included Umpqua Bank and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.