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

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