Dining for a cause

Helpline raises more than $230,000 during annual Taste of Queen Anne

Queen Anne Helpline Executive Director Lisa Moore rattled off the numbers for the crowd on Saturday night at Banchero Hall at St. Anne’s Church.

Nearly 90 students received bags of food to take with them at the end of each school week.

More than 100 seniors had groceries delivered to their homes at Thanksgiving.

Five-hundred and fourteen people avoided eviction, and 143 households kept the lights on.

Over 1,000 benefitted from the clothing bank and hygiene bar.

All of it was in a year’s work for the Helpline, and that’s what drew several hundred people for the annual Taste of Queen Anne on Saturday night.

The event is the nonprofit’s premier annual fundraiser, bringing together more than a dozen local restaurants — including Maximillian Petty’s Eden Hill, Grappa, and Ethan Stowell’s How to Cook a Wolf — all offering samples of their fare. Meanwhile, attendees could bid on one of 13 live auction packages, which included everything from a weekend at the Gunn ranch in Winthrop, to a pair of tickets to Sunday’s Sounders regular-season finale coupled with a press box tour from goalkeeper-turned-analyst Kasey Keller.

That was followed by the “raise the paddle” portion of the evening, where donors could commit to giving anywhere from $5,000 — billed as enough to prevent 20 families from becoming homeless — all the way down to $100, enough to provide bus tickets for 20 people to get work and other appointments.

The hope was to best last year’s mark of $165,000.

By the end of the night, $232,950 had been raised from a record number of donors. During the paddle raise alone, approximately $120,000 was pledged. 

The influx of funds comes at a time when the Queen Anne Helpline is expanding the scope of its services. Moore said the assistance model that’s been used over the past 35 years, “is no longer enough to meet the growing demand and need of today.”

After evaluating the use of case management services for the past year, the Helpline is building off of that model to encompass supportive services that, “meet people where they are.” That includes stabilizing housing and finances, help with budgeting or debt reduction, assistance with benefits applications, or even finding employment.

It was a story longtime Queen Anne resident Rick Littleton knew all too well, seeking out the Helpline when he needed to make rent, and, “I and my bank account ran into some thin spots.”

While he said it was hard to ask for help, he praised the nonprofit for respectfully and warmly receiving him, and for its accessibility to the community.

“Lisa Moore is a shining example of a highly-coordinated organizer, and she’s also a certified DFP: Damned fine person,” he said.

A believer in paying it forward, he’s since made a few donations of his own to the organization.

“The Queen Anne Helpline is a life ring,” he said. “It’s that spare key, and it’s the temporary hand-hold that is good to have in our Queen Anne village.”

In essence, Moore said, the work of the Helpline is about ending the revolving door of homelessness, with compassionate, fast, and easy-to-access financial assistance in the short-term in tandem with long-term planning.

“They come to us because an injury meant unpaid time away from work, or a car broke down, or they have an expensive new prescription, and without a safety net, they’re suddenly not able to pay their rent or utility bills,” she said.

Still, the executive director said she has faith moving forward.

“We are living in troubling times, but I have hope,” Moore said. “I have hope because I have seen how our communities respond: With kindness, with caring, and with action.”

That hope proved well-founded by night’s end.

To learn more about the Queen Anne Helpline or to make a donation, go to www.queenannehelpline.org. To comment on this story, write to QAMagNews@nwlink.com.