The Queen Anne Helpline is at 311 W. McGraw St.
The Queen Anne Helpline is at 311 W. McGraw St.

Cara Lauer has strong ties to Queen Anne, and those connections are expected to grow even more as the new executive director of the neighborhood Helpline.

“I think a lot of people who grew up in Seattle feel some obligation, feel some connection with wanting to preserve things that are valued,” said Lauer, who started at Queen Anne Helpline in mid-August.

Lauer was born in Seattle, and grew up in San Francisco. She did her undergraduate and graduate studies at Stanford, where she earned her masters in psychology.

She spent many years in the nonprofit sector in Seattle, last serving as the aging and disability resource manager for Neighborhood House. Prior to that, she was executive director for Elderwise for two years.

Her grandmother, Fay Kerry, attended Queen Anne High School, and was the niece of Northwest lumberman Albert Kerry, who donated the land where Queen Anne’s Kerry Park is located. Lauer was very close to her grandmother, and being more connected to the neighborhood she loved was one reason why she applied for the position.

Queen Anne Helpline focuses on homelessness prevention and stabilization through financial and supportive services, serving Queen Anne, Magnolia and South Lake Union communities.

A recent report compiled by the Seattle Women’s Commission and the Housing Justice Project outlines the racial disparity in Seattle evictions, and highlight how easily someone can be evicted, even for owing a landlord as little as $10.

Lauer said people associate the Helpline’s coverage area codes with affluence, but there are thousands of subsidized apartments there, and many people struggling to stay housed — one emergency situation could change that.

“There’s a lot of need that people may not be aware of,” Lauer said.

And the community is motivated to help.

“I would say the volunteers are definitely more of the backbone than the staff, which is a good thing,” she said.

Lauer recently put that reliance on neighbors helping neighbors to the test, the Helpline publishing a Facebook post seeking to fill its empty food shelves.

The Queen Anne Helpline director said community members are not only responsive to immediate needs, but often add something to the mix.

“When people come by, usually they have a bag of clothes,” Lauer said. “The consumer economy means many of us have more than we really need.”

People regularly send the Helpline staples through Amazon, she said.

The Helpline runs two clothing boutiques — one each for those identifying as men and women — that includes accessories like backpacks. These boutiques are not limited to people in the neighborhood, Lauer said, and anyone can come for a certain number of items each month.

“We’re on three bus lines, so we’re relatively easy to get to,” she said.

Clients often also step up to volunteer and make donations when they can.

Lauer said Queen Anne Helpline recently went through a round of strategic planning.

“I feel pretty great about the direction we’re going,” she said, adding she feels her skills match that direction.

People familiar with the Helpline or wanting to learn more will have the opportunity to hear from Lauer over a bevy of small bites provided by local restaurants during the Taste of Queen Anne in St. Anne Church’s Banchero Hall, 101 W. Lee St.

This is the Helpline’s largest annual fundraising event, and is organized by the Helpline board of directors, which includes Rebecca Mann, deputy director of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and Pamela Mattson, executive development principal at Amazon.

“It also does have a kind of a gala feel, that people are coming together around a shared purpose,” said Lauer, who will make a speech during the event.

A Helpline client will also share their story about how the nonprofit helped them when they were in need.

Taste of Queen Anne runs 6:30-10 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 13. Tickets are available here: Single tickets are $125, and $1,000 for a table of eight.

Taste of Queen Anne will have about a dozen donated items available for a live auction.

Lauer said the event is a good way for people to get to know the diversity in their neighborhood, and to learn just how much a community organization can provide.

The Queen Anne Helpline is at 311 W. McGraw St. Donation hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday-Thursday, and client hours are 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. The nonprofit can be reached at 206-282-1540.