An exercise on gratitude

I have seen a lot of changes at Imagine Housing in the thirteen years that I have had the privilege to be on the staff.  I have been part of the office moves from Saint Andrew’s Lutheran Church, to Issaquah, and to our current offices in Kirkland.  Our number of housing units has increased from 185 to 485 and our staff size has increased from five people to our current staff of 22 – it seems like every month brings someone new to the organization!  It is so exciting to be a part of this dynamic organization.

Along with rapid growth can come some growing pains.  One of the biggest challenges we have faced is how to maintain a strong, cohesive team with many staff members working at our properties rather than in our main office.  In order to feel as though we are one team, we dedicate time during our monthly staff meetings for staff recognition.

In October, IH staff members, Kendra and Frederick, led an exercise on gratitude.  We watched a short video on the positive impact that expressing gratitude to others can have on our own level of overall happiness.  Afterwards they challenged us to write comments of gratitude about each member of the staff and put them in each person’s own gratitude bag.  It was fun to think about things that I admire about each member of our incredible team and it challenged me to get to know some of the newest members of the staff better.

Our bags were redistributed at the November staff meeting where we each silently read the comments that were written to us.  Now we can reach into our gratitude bags whenever we may need a pick-me-up and instantly feel our spirits lifted.

In this season of thanksgiving, I encourage everyone to not only think about the people that we are thankful for but to also express that gratitude.  Trust me, it will make you happier.

~Sue Bliven, Director of Finance

Absolutely every advantage…

For more than two years, I lived in an adorable home, in a safe neighborhood, near a reliant bus line, less than a 15 minute drive from my work.  It was at the top of my price range for what I was able to pay in rent, but I loved it.  Then one day, my roommate and I got a call from our landlord letting us know that they would no longer be renting out the house and we had six weeks to find a new home.

We sat down together and listed out all the things we felt we needed for our new space: a good neighborhood, near a transit line, reasonable rent, good storage and parking.  After three weeks of looking, our list of needs became shorter and shorter and our willingness to pay a higher rent increased.  Our desired home didn’t exist anywhere within the budget we had set out for ourselves.

My roommate and I both made over 60% of the Area Median Income (AMI).  We were both employed with good references.  We had regular access to the internet.  We could check our smartphones for new postings before, during, and after work.  We had our own cars that we could take to look at apartments.  Still we couldn’t find a home for ourselves.

I had absolutely every advantage in life while I was looking for an affordable place to live and the process was still full of anxiety and tears.  Luckily my roommate and I did eventually find our new space where we’ve been for two years.

The 2,994 families on Imagine Housing’s current waitlists do not have the same privileges or advantages my roommate and I had.  At the very least, they all make less than 60% AMI ($37,080 for a one person household or $42,360 for a two person household).  Some have children they have to look after when they get off work, others don’t have a reliable vehicle, more don’t have the finances that it takes to afford a safe, clean home in East King County.

We need to create a community where everyone can afford an apartment that they feel proud to walk in and out of every day.  We need to build more affordable communities like Velocity to make a dent in the amount of neighbors who need our help.  We need to create a safety net for our friends and family members.

And we need to do it together.

~Kendra Steiner, Annual Fund Manager

Celebrating Our Veterans at Andrew’s Glen

This past Tuesday, our friends and partners from Saint Andrew’s Lutheran Church’s Veterans Ministry group, also known as Invest in Vets, hosted their 4th annual dinner for Veterans at Andrew’s Glen.

The event was open to everyone at Andrew’s Glen.  Veterans that live in two of our other Kirkland properties, Francis Village and Velocity, were also invited to the celebration. Over forty people attended the dinner. The event started with everyone reciting the Pledge of Allegiance and then singing the National Anthem. Then, those that served in our military were acknowledged and thanked for their service.

Grill master Steve Johnson worked feverishly to cook 50 steaks to perfection. The steaks were given at a deep discount by John Dick of Golden Steer Choice Meats, located in Bellevue (thanks John!).  In addition to the steaks, we served fresh veggies, string beans, baked potatoes, cookies, and ice cream sandwiches.

The common area in Andrew’s Glen was buzzing with chatter. Everyone enjoyed the good food and good company. Some people even stayed behind after dinner to chat with long-lost friends.

A special thanks to our event volunteers Dave Marcrander, Linda Gilham, Claudia Browers, Dave Holzbog, Steve and Delores Johnson, Kurt Lutterman, Erik Nielsen, and Debbie Szabo who helped with setup and cleanup for the event.

Thank you Saint Andrew’s Lutheran Church volunteers and our residents for making this year’s dinner another successful event!

~Monirul Hawke, Resident Support Specialist, Andrew’s Glen

Imagine Housing on New Day Northwest

Comcast is partnering with Imagine Housing to pilot a brand new public wifi network at Imagine Housing’s Velocity apartments in Kirkland. The service will make public wifi available in the lobby of apartment buildings, and will be available city-wide in the coming months.

Steve Kipp, VP of Communications at Comcast, and Anne Levine from Imagine Housing, joined New Day on Thursday to discuss the new service.

Original story with video