We did it!

You absolutely blew us away this holiday season with your generous giving.  Our 2014 End of Year Campaign raised $39,158 in just two months, exceeding our initial goal by more than $4,000, thanks to the tremendous support of this community!

Thanks to you, more than 1,200 individuals have a safe place to call home and on-site services to help them stabilize their lives and pursue their goals.  Together, we continue taking the steps needed to end homelessness in our community.  Thank you for partnering with us!

~Kendra Steiner, Annual Fund Manager

The importance of youth programming

As a new member of the Imagine Housing team, I am continuously learning about the different Imagine Housing communities and how much work goes into each site. Each day is different and every day gets better.

It has been exciting and drastically different learning how to run an after school program with youth ranging from ages K-12 when my previous experience had been working with high school age students.  I’ve had to adapt to the younger children who bring a large amount of energy and imagination. I work at two different properties in Issaquah – both very different. Each property has different residents and different personalities and finding an activity to entertain a wide age group can be a challenge.

The two hour after school program at each of these properties includes homework help and activity time and is a very important time in these children’s lives.  After school programming is not only a time for kids to get their homework done and play games, it is a time for them to create relationships in a safe and healthy environment. In some instances, this is the only interaction they may have with people after school until their parents get home from work. These kids are dependent on each other and enjoy having a place to go where they can play with their friends. I enjoy watching the children help each other with their homework and support each other through tough times. I have seen young children develop and learn from the experiences they have had within the program and transform the way they think about certain situations.

Working with a younger age group has taught me the importance of creating a difference early in one’s life. The differences that someone can make at an early age is important to their future education and social interactions with others. They may have a different way of learning or only like engaging in certain activities. Finding a way to interact with them and figuring out what special thing will keep them entertained, respectful, continuously learning, and discovering who they are is the most important thing that I have realized since coming to Imagine Housing. I hope to progressively gain more knowledge about how to benefit these children the best that I can so that they will feel strong and confident going into the next years of their lives.

~Molly Heine, Resident Support Specialist

Imagine Housing – Committed to Cultural Competency

Imagine Housing’s Cultural Competency Committee has been quite productive in the past few months including developing our Committee’s mission and vision.

Our mission:  We bring together knowledge about cultural competency and transform it into standards, policies and practices so that our organization may become a more effective agent of change in our community.

Our vision:  An inclusive, welcoming and diverse organization that works toward cultural competency by promoting equality, deinstitutionalizing racism and advocating for social justice.

Our Committee’s top priorities are:

  1.  Arrange training around cultural competency for all Board and staff one to two times a year.
  2. Offer training for staff on good interview techniques (especially with respect to cultural competency, disability, LGBTQ, etc.) This training will be provided by Board member Rob Moe today.
  3. Forge an environment of continuous education and accountability when it comes to cultural competency. This work never stops; we always need to be improving and educating ourselves.
  4. Translate all possible services and property management materials into other languages.
  5. Provide each department with tools that enable them to evaluate their own forms and operating protocols for cultural competency and ensure that each department does this evaluation work.

We have already begun this work.  Recently, an exercise on privilege was conducted at one of our Board meetings and are developing other cultural competency activities for future meetings.  Additionally, monthly staff meetings now include these types of learning opportunities.  We are committed to creating a culturally competent workplace for all members of our organization.

~Hester Winn, Office Manager and HR Administrator

Joining a great team

Less than two months ago, I was introduced to Imagine Housing at a dinner party hosted by longtime friends of my wife and I. The following week I had coffee with former Imagine Housing Executive Director, Ann Levine, and learned about the rich history of this organization.  The vision of a community that is welcoming and available for everyone to call home, including families with lower incomes, really caught my attention.  With rental costs rising faster than inflation, many people are being left out in the cold without reliable housing – in our own community!  Simply stated, I wanted to be a part of creating a solution to this problem.  This past December my desire to join this organization became a reality when Imagine Housing’s Board of Directors officially appointed me to the position of Interim Executive Director.

Ann Levine did an amazing job in the six years she served as Executive Director of Imagine Housing.   Ann not only led efforts that significantly increased the availability of affordable housing on the Eastside, but also paved the way for a significant increase in supportive services, proactive maintenance, advocacy and overall sustainability of the organization. Thanks to her leadership, Imagine Housing has tremendous momentum.  It is my job to make sure we don’t slow down!

In the short while I’ve been in my new role, I already realize what a skilled, motivated and passionate team I’ve joined.  The staff and board members, working together, have recently completed a five year strategic plan that is both visionary and challenging.  This plan, as it is implemented, will make the Eastside a vibrant community that welcomes, houses and supports everyone.  I’d be less than honest if I didn’t admit to being a bit overwhelmed at present, but I’m learning as fast as I can and look forward to the opportunity to meet our partners, supporters and friends over the coming weeks and months.

Happy New Year!

~Gary Helling, Interim Executive Director

2014 Holiday Gift Campaign

This year, Imagine Housing worked with 9 amazing community partners in order to provide the youth and families at our 13 properties with holiday gifts. We have had incredible, steadfast and even increasing support from members of our community who believe that every child deserves a great holiday. With the addition of a 13th property, the need for this resource has grown and our partners stepped up to meet the need. I would like to give an enormous shout out to the wonderful partners that helped make this year’s Holiday Gift Campaign a huge success.

Included in our group of donors for the gift campaign in 2014 are: Aldersgate United Methodist Church in Bellevue, Faith Lutheran Church in Redmond, Holy Spirit Lutheran in Kirkland, Sammamish Hills Lutheran in Kirkland, St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church in Bellevue, St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church in Bellevue, Valley Christian Assembly in Fall City, Symetra Financial and St. Luke’s Lutheran Church in Kirkland. Because of your generosity, more than 350 children living in Imagine Housing properties received holiday gifts. Because of you, the financial burden for these kids’ parents and caretakers was lifted. THANK YOU!

~Sarah Larson, Resident Support Specialist