Keith’s Story

Keith is a graduate of the ICS Recovery Shelter and proudly states he has over 2 years of sobriety!
Before coming to ICS Recovery Shelter, he was sleeping on a bench in Pioneer Square Park. Keith had lived on the streets for several years after being arrested for an altercation with roommates.  When he got out of jail, he found himself homeless and fell into addiction.  He eventually found his way to outpatient treatment and the ICS Recovery Shelter to start building a sober life for himself.
Keith now lives next door, in his own apartment. He started an AA meeting in his building and is working on his certificate for peer support counselor. He returns every week to volunteer at the SLU Food Bank at ICS handing out food as a way to give back.  He doesn’t want any recognition for his service; he says his reward is helping others and earning another day of recovery!

In the News

Some of you may remember our friend Reggie. He was a longtime guest in our Hygiene Center and slept on the stairs of our building for over a decade. He moved into permanent supportive housing a few years ago and stopped by this week to let us know that he has moved out of that building and is in his very own apartment now. We are so happy for him! Check out his story on the front page of the Seattle Times earlier this week!

Finding Home

Since the beginning of the year, nine members of the ICS community have moved into permanent housing!!

Several longtime Hygiene Center guests and a few Recovery Shelter residents signed leases, received their keys and after a combined 100 years of homelessness, they finally have a safe place to call home. This is not an easy process, which makes these moments when a person takes that first step into their new lives that much sweeter.


New Adventures in Familiar Places

Don is our Meals Program Assistant serving with us through AmeriCorps. He cooks and serves delicious breakfasts and lunches for our Hygiene Center guests each day with care and compassion and when he’s not doing that, he’s helping in the Food Bank! Don lives in the neighborhood and at times has used ICS programs in order to survive.

What a wonderful chance to start again. AmeriCorps has opened my eyes to new adventures. I’ve always been cooking for people; homeless people, community people, people I see and live around every day. I am so grateful for this opportunity to not only get a job near where I live but that they have given me the opportunity to give back to an organization and community which has helped me personally. While at one point I relied on Immanuel Community Services for Assistance, I now, on a day-to-day basis, have been able to do exactly what they’ve done for me, for others in my community, some of which I’ve known for years. I’m 73 years old. At ICS, age doesn’t matter, race doesn’t seem to matter. It’s a help one, help all kind of job. With all, not just me. Thank you!

Quilts, Crumbles, and Community: Reflections from an ICS Board Member

I love to cook for people. I love the instant feedback, the ability to share that I care, and that look on people’s faces when they close their eyes and think “mmm, that’s good”. So it was natural that when I wanted to start volunteering with ICS, I combined one of my favorite things to do with volunteering – by cooking dinner monthly for the men in recovery!

My husband and I had done this for over a year back in 2017-2018, and I loved the feeling of making something nice that people would love – ribs, meatloaf, bratwurst. And I loved when I got my friends and family to come join us, and adding their faves – homemade mac and cheese, greens, bread from scratch. But more than that, I loved being able to get to know the guys, and for my friends to get to know them too. We got to be there from the first month that some men showed up, and were there when they moved into permanent housing. We were able to share conversations about how life can suck. We shared dreams, shared regrets, and looked to the future. I was able to understand life beyond my own, beyond the lives of my friends, and I am so grateful for that. I got to make a quilt for graduation, and when one of the guys picked it up to keep, it felt so awesome.

We took a hiatus for about a year after we got a kiddo. BUT! Last month, we started it up again. We brought some faves – ribs, greens and sausages, homemade bread, and a crumble… though that didn’t turn out super great. 🙂 This was the first time we got to meet a lot of the new guys in the program, so it was weird to go back to not knowing people as well as we once did – everyone had graduated since we last cooked! But I’m excited to keep going monthly so that we can get to know them, and they can get to know us and our kid.

I would highly encourage finding a way to volunteer at ICS. Think about something you love to do; you can share that with the guests at ICS! From cooking, to painting, to reading, to … whatever! You have a gift that someone would love for you to share with them. Talk with me, a board member, or our Executive Director to let us know you want to share your time or skills and we’ll make it happen! 

Kevin Johnsen 
Board Member

The ICS 2018 Annual Report

Thank you all for believing in our mission. Because of your support and partnership, we provided Food for those who are Hungry, Hygiene for those who are Homeless and Recovery for those who are addicted in 2018. We will continue to carry this mission into 2019 with compassion and kindness.

Read our Annual Report by clicking on the image below.

Advocating for Compassion: An ICS Response to the KOMO Special on Homelessness in Seattle

Many of you may have seen the KOMO television special, “Seattle Is Dying”. Sadly, this show is deeply flawed and not as transparent or accurate as it would like you to believe.

We cannot criminalize our neighbors who do not have homes. We cannot simplify the issue and point fingers because we don’t like seeing the heartbreaking poverty in our neighborhood. The issue is complex and painful.  With unprecedented growth in our city the last few years, it is important to remember how that impacts people just barely hanging on….or how it impacts our neighbors experiencing homelessness who have been pushed from the shadows into public spaces because construction has consumed any hidden nooks & crannies in our city.

The KOMO piece is unapologetically biased and slanted.  They did not really look at all sides of the issue, instead they make an outrageous claim that they “don’t know one person who’s gotten treatment and gotten off the street.” This means that they did not talk to one single service provider working to combat this issue.  Here at ICS, we know many people who have gotten treatment and gotten off the streets. Starting with the 15 men living in our Recovery Program Shelter right now, who together have over 3,100 days sober. ICS clients who moved into housing in the last year or so had more than a combined 130 years of homelessness!!   

The KOMO piece is blaming the problem on the people who are suffering and shaming them because they are homeless. They are trying to stoke fear and incite anger in the community instead of looking at the problem honestly.  They are failing to explore the systems and institutional failures that got us here to productively try to figure out a solution.  They are condemning the poor and calling them names which only makes the problem worse.

Next time you come across someone, be a part of the solution instead of the problem. Instead of turning away, smile and say hi. Help them hold onto some of their humanity and dignity so perhaps they can begin to imagine a different life for themselves.

#Compassion #Humanity  #HopeDignityCommunity #Homelessness #Homeless #Poverty #SeaHomeless #SouthLakeUnion

If you’d like to read more, Catherine Hinrichsen, Project Director of Seattle University’s Project on Family Homelessness wrote an Op-Ed in Crosscut outlining 6 Reasons Why KOMO’s Take On Homelessness Is The Wrong One

An ICS Recovery Program Success Story

The success of our program can be seen in the example of a recent graduate of the program who struggled with alcoholism for decades. It ruined his family life and his business life. He had failed at prior treatment programs multiple times and eventually found his way to Matt Talbot. He moved into our Recovery Program Shelter so he would have a safe, clean place to live while he attended Matt Talbot Center for intensive outpatient treatment. Because he had a safe place off the streets, a bed and food on the table, he didn’t have to worry about how he would survive but could focus all of his attention and work on his recovery.


It wasn’t an easy path and after a few months, he relapsed but he immediately decided to get back on track.  He returned to inpatient treatment and when he completed treatment, he returned to ICS…and the rest as they say is history!  When he started regaining his health and embraced the tools needed to maintain recovery, he transitioned into the second phase of his program and returned to school, pursuing a degree in computer science through a local community college.  This career path now promises him a middle-class supporting wage.


Then one day, while on campus, he unexpectedly ran into one of his daughters he had not seen in over a decade. She was so impressed with his complete change of being and sobriety, they have been meeting weekly getting to know one another again.  She also brought one of her brothers along who has started reuniting with him as well. The overwhelming gratitude this individual feels was recently expressed in his comment at his phase 2 graduation when he stated, “someone pinch me because this has to be a dream come true.”

How to set-up a Fundraiser on Facebook

Step 1: Click here to start a fundraiser.

Step 2: Click the blue “Raise Money” bar and when a window pops up, click the box that says “Get Started”.

  • Another window will open and then choose “Nonprofit” from the three options.

Step 3: Search for Immanuel Community Services.

Step 4: Once you have chosen ICS, you will be able to enter your information.

Step 5: Customize your fundraiser!

We’d love for you to add personality to your text and description. Here are the details we want to make sure you include:

  • Please use this format for the Fundraising TitleHelp [your first name] raise $1k to fight homelessness and hunger!
  • Enter December 31, 2017 as the end date for your fundraiser.

Your goal amount is $1,000.

Thank you for your help and support!