FOOD for those who are Hungry

HYGIENE for those who are Homeless

RECOVERY for those who are Addicted

The ICS Offices & Hygiene Center will be closed on Wednesday, June 19th, in observance of Juneteenth. The ICS HYGIENE CENTER will remain closed Thursday (6/20) and Friday (6/21) for some unexpected repairs. We will reopen Monday at 8am. Thank you!

A Note from the Executive Director

“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” –Aesop

A few weeks ago, my cell phone started acting up. I wasn’t receiving texts & calls were unreliable so I found myself in the store buying a new phone.  As I was finishing my purchase, the store was closing and there was someone who wouldn’t leave. The young man clearly had developmental capacity issues and wasn’t being easy to work with.  He would respond “I’m just looking” when he was asked what he needed help with and after several minutes of this, he was asked to leave because the store was closing.

The store manager handled it perfectly. He was kind, calm and patient but also firm.  When it became clear that they were at an impasse, he called the police.  The sheriff deputy that responded, on the other hand, did not handle it well. He was rude. Condescending.  Belligerent.  The young man was not being aggressive, had no weapons and was not being threatening. He was simply not leaving but everyone in the store could tell he was confused.

The deputy called for backup and when it arrived, all three of them jumped the young man and knocked him to the ground.  He was wailing and crying, clearly terrified.  They pinned his face down on the carpet for quite awhile and when they finally let him up, he had carpet burns, scratches & blood on his face.

A similar situation occurred two weeks earlier outside of ICS. Someone known in the neighborhood and understood to have cognitive issues, was tackled to the ground by several officers; his face smashed into the street with officers kneeling on him.  He also clearly showed signs of an impairment. He was crying out because he was scared and did not understand what was going on.  The officers didn’t show any sign of getting up off the ground and continued to kneel on him even though he was subdued & in handcuffs. It was only when I walked over to them that they finally let him up and guided him to the police vehicle.  If the situation wasn’t bad enough already, the five officers kept asking one another what he was being arrested for. No one knew.

We’ve all heard a lot of talk about the need for law enforcement to be trained in crisis response and to have mental health counselors present. This is critical.  Would these incidents have turned out differently? Absolutely.

But I also believe this is about more than that.  This is about our deeply dysfunctional system and a brutally broken social contract. It is aggression against people in our community who are living on the margins — those suffering from homelessness, cognitive & intellectual impairment, substance use, hunger and mental health issues.  Marginalized people just trying to survive.  It’s heartbreaking.

We see this with the City of Burien making it illegal for “Burien residents experiencing homelessness from living on public land for survival” or the Kenmore City Council rejecting a fully funded 100-unit affordable housing building because Kenmore residents “didn’t want the homeless” in their community.

There was a third police incident I witnessed, just last week outside of ICS. This person also had clear mental health/cognitive issues but he also swung at the officers.  Of all three incidents, this was the only one that warranted physical intervention…and it’s the only time it wasn’t used. So, it IS possible to meet someone in crisis with compassion & empathy and resolve a difficult situation peacefully.  If we treat folks in our community as “neighbors”, they will act like our neighbors.  If we treat them as “other” they will act as “other”.

It’s a new month, so instead of fear and aggression, let’s focus on kindness, compassion and loving our neighbors.

Shawna McMahon, Executive Director

Volunteer Help Needed!

  • FOOD BANK & GROCERY RESCUE – We need your help with our Food Bank on Mondays and our drivers for Grocery Rescue during the weekend.
  • HYGIENE CENTER VOLUNTEERS – Prepare and serve meals to guests in our Hygiene Center. Tues-Fri, 10A M-1:30 PM
  • VOLUNTEER COORDINATOR – Looking for someone to schedule and support volunteers in the SLU Food Bank, Grocery Rescue, Home Deliveries and Meal Program.  1-3 hours/week. (CURRENTLY FILLED)
  • COMMUNITY LUNCH – Looking for volunteers for the last Saturday & Sunday of the month to help prep food and serve.

 

Groups must be planned one month in advance.

Email volunteers@icsseattle.org for more information.

What If we walked a mile in their shoes,
Assumed a little less,
Tried to feel what they feel?
What if we opened our hearts a little more
And asked ourselves, what if, what if this was me?
‘Cause they are just like you and me,
Trying to find a way to be in this world
And live in peace.
Is that a crime?”

Music & Lyrics by Naomi Wachira

 

ICS strives to create a Community of Hope and save lives by making sure people have the basics that every human being needs: a warm welcome, nutritious food, a place to take a shower & use a restroom…and a place to sleep.

Our programs are made possible by the generous support from our partners...

Our mission is to alleviate the effects of poverty, hunger, homelessness and addiction by providing community-based social services to those in need.