The Queen Anne neighborhood is one of the most affluent areas in all of Seattle — why would it need a food pantry, clothing bank, services for people being evicted from their home, services for residents who are sick and can’t afford medication, and services for single parents who want to go back to school but can’t also afford the grocery bills?
Lisa Moore, executive director of the Queen Anne Helpline, explains that, yes, even in Queen Anne there are many people who are low-income and need assistance — even if the need is not visible.
“There’s a perception that Queen Anne is an affluent community, and so people will ask, where is the need? But there is a need,” she said. “Firstly, the two ZIP codes we serve, 98109 and 98119, extend to a lot of subsidized-housing units and housing shelters.”
“No. 2, there are people losing their jobs and don’t have enough savings or safety net. Or people that have some sort of medical crisis in their lives and are unable to work or afford their medical bills,” she said. “These are people who aren’t necessarily living in shelters but are our neighbors and, because of a misfortunate position, are unable to pay their bills.”
The Queen Anne Helpline, celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, assists individuals and families that are confronting short-term financial crisis. Services include an adult continuing-education program, a children’s tutoring program, a clothing bank, a nonperishable food pantry and bookshelves.
The Helpline helps those fighting hunger and homelessness by facilitating the move out of poverty. It helps qualified people to their pay utility bills and medication.
“We had a gentleman come in here, who always pays his bills but was diagnosed with cancer and was unable to work. He wanted to make sure he wouldn’t be evicted from his home while receiving treatment,” Moore said. “We have single, low-income people who are going back to school, and we offset some of those costs. This helps them stay in school so they can become self-sufficient.
“We pass these people on the streets every day, and you wouldn’t necessarily think are in need,” she said.
Working with, for neighbors
Hossein Soleymani, vice president of Helpline’s board of directors, was also fazed when first asked to join the board 10 years ago.
“At the time, I thought it was a crazy idea: No one needed help on Queen Anne,” he said. “But then I realized there are people who do need help — education, clothing and different things in many ways. We provide clothing, toiletries and back-to-school bags, all prepared by donations.”
The Helpline procures $200,000 a year for client services. Its two major fund-raisers are the annual gala and the Queen Anne Fun Run/Walk. The Helpline is a volunteer-run organization, except for Moore’s position as executive director. The 15-member board of directors is made up of community members, including business owners.
“We have an amazingly hardworking, involved board, and I’m incredibly fortunate that way,” Moore said. “I’m very grateful.”
The Helpline has a working relationship with Seattle Pacific University and looks to build more collaborative partners in the area. Moore said the Helpline works with local churches and food banks so that services do not needlessly overlap.
For Moore, this type of work is what makes her tick.
“When this position opened up, I was interested. It’s a community I care deeply about, and the fact that it’s a nonprofit working with marginalized people who are struggling, is work I love doing,” she said.
“One really wonderful thing we do every year is put together Thanksgiving grocery bags and deliver them to low-income seniors, working with John Hay Elementary School to help pack the food for deliveries,” she said.
The Helpline has a longstanding tradition of partnering with Boy Scouts of America Troop 72 to sell Christmas trees. Until Dec. 20, trees will be sold in the parking lot of the Queen Anne Hill Safeway, on the north side of the building. All the profit goes toward the Helpline and the Boy Scouts troop.
On Dec. 15, the Helpline will host a Santa party. Families are encouraged to stop by, eat, drink and take photos with Santa.
For more information, visit queenanne helpline.org.