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June 2013

Best Wishes!

Dannette R. Smith


As I enter the final stretch at the Seattle Human Services Department (my last day is Friday, June 14th), I feel very proud of the work all of us have accomplished over the last three years for vulnerable children, families and individuals in our community.


I'm also confident that I'm the leaving the department in great hands with Catherine Lester, who will serve as Interim Director. Catherine will help the department move forward with a strong focus on the goals we've already established.


I treasure the relationships that I've made in the community and I thank you for all your support during my tenure as director. It's been an honor and privilege serving in this role and working with you.


My best and warmest wishes for the remainder of the year and beyond.

Dannette R. Smith
Director, Seattle Human Services Department
East African immigrant moves from homelessness to hope

SenaitThe attentive young mother from East Africa heard the same refrain from her daughter every time she served her dinner or tucked her into bed.

"I want to be in America. When are we going to the United States? I am an American!" the little girl would declare.

Senait Andemicael never had considered immigrating to the U.S. But the more she measured the milieu in her home country of Eritrea - a backdrop of war, a struggling economy, an autocratic government - the more her daughter's calls echoed in her mind. She entered a lottery for a special immigration visa and despite long odds, her name was selected among the scores of hopefuls who applied.

"I won because of my child's luck," Andemicael said. Perhaps it was destiny.

Soon after arriving in the U.S., however, her pursuit of the American dream became streaked with struggle, disappointment and frustration.

"My thinking was that I would get a job once I got here, but I couldn't find one," said Andemicael, who knew little English and possessed few marketable skills. She and her daughter, Edom, now 10, stayed in the extra bedroom of an apartment of a gracious woman. But the living arrangement was meant to be short-term.

Andemicael needed to find a safe and stable home for herself and Edom. Her search brought her to the threshold of Sacred Heart Shelter, a temporary home-like refuge to homeless families and single women in Seattle.

"I called many shelters and thank God I found Sacred Heart," Andemicael said. "I was very happy to find it. It was very clean, very neat and very safe."

The Lower Queen Anne shelter, a service of Catholic Community Services and Catholic Housing Services of Western Washington, is a partner of the Seattle Human Services Department. For a couple months, the immigrant mother and daughter stayed at the shelter in a small room with bunk beds and a closet, sharing a kitchen and dining area with other residents.

At the shelter, Andemicael practiced her English by talking to other residents. She and Edom also benefitted from other services provided through Sacred Heart, such as donated food that helped reduce her expenses. The shelter assigned a case manager, Eve McCarthy, who helped Andemicael navigate through a confusing maze of social services and pointed her toward longer-term affordable housing.

"Senait was incredibly motivated to improve her life and that of her daughter's," McCarthy said. "One of the advantages of transitional housing is that it not only provides individuals and families a safe and affordable place to live, but it also buys them time to move forward and better their situations."

Today, Andemicael and her daughter live in a secure and spotless apartment in Greenwood operated by the Low Income Housing Institute. The North End location is perfect for Andemicael, who attends Shoreline Community College in hopes of becoming certified as a nursing assistant. It also allowed her to keep Edom in a neighborhood school in which she is doing quite well.

On a clear day, Andemicael and her daughter can look out their living room window and see the blue skies ahead.

(By Stuart Eskenazi)  

Summer in the city

HS students in medicineThe Seattle Human Services Department's summer programs will launch later this month. Below is a summary of programs.

Seattle Youth Employment Program (SYEP): The summer program begins on June 26th and as of early June, staff have placed 297 youth into internships in a variety of sectors such as skilled trades, health care, human services, and information technology. SYEP interns will  improve workplace skills, gain valuable work experience, get connected to the community all while earning money. Youth were referred through community applications and partners or through the Seattle Youth Violence Prevention Initiative (SYVPI). The program also received financial support from a Bank of America grant.


Upward Bound: HSD's college prep program kicks off its summer program at Seattle University on Monday, June 24th and runs six weeks through Friday, August 2nd. Approximately 60 Upward Bound high school students - from freshmen to seniors - will participate in Upward Bound classes and activities that run Monday through Friday, 8:00-1:30 p.m. on Seattle University's campus in the heart of Seattle. Students in the summer program develop a sense of confidence and belonging on a college campus by accessing many of campus resources such as the school library or athletic facilities.  

Summer Food Service Program: Thousands of Seattle children ages 1 through 18 will enjoy free breakfasts and lunches this summer through the Seattle Human Services Department's Summer Food Service Program. The U.S. Department of Agriculture-funded program, formerly known as "Summer Sack Lunch," is open from June 24th through August 23rd, 2013 at approximately 100 sites across the city. These include designated community centers, Seattle park playgrounds, Boys and Girls Clubs, YMCAs and YWCAs, and other community sites throughout Seattle and parts of King County. For a complete list of sites and hours for the Summer Food Service Program, please call 206-386-1140 or visit this Web page.   

Step Ahead preschools now enrolling for 2013-2014
Child w/backpackSlots are now available for high-quality, low-cost preschool for the 2013-2014 school year through the Seattle Human Services Department's Step Ahead Preschool Program. Step Ahead preschools are located in numerous locations in Seattle. Step Ahead teachers have degrees in early childhood education and receive continuing education. Schools feature small class sizes and enriched learning environments. Bilingual programs and staff are available.

Full-Day Preschool: For families needing help to pay for a full-day program, payment assistance is available through the Working Connections Child Care (DSHS) or the City of Seattle Child Care Assistance program. Programs are located in the Seattle area. Parent needs to pay part of the cost.

Part-Day Preschool: Free for eligible families.

To qualify
  • Children must be three or four years old by August 31, 2013
  • Families must live in Seattle city limits
  • Parents must be employed/training
  • Families must meet the income guidelines based on family size
Call 386-1050 for more information.
Elder Abuse Awareness Day in Seattle
Elder abuse is a global health and human rights issue that affects millions of older adults, including thousands in the greater Seattle area. Elder abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation are growing problems in our community and affects people of all ethnic, cultural, racial, economic, and religious backgrounds.
Elderly woman

The City of Seattle-through its Human Services Department and Aging and Disability Services (ADS)q, the Area Agency on Aging for Seattle-King County, collaborates with the King County Prosecuting Attorney's Office, Adult Protective Services, social service agencies, health care professionals, law enforcement, and other first responders to address the special needs of older adults who experience any form of abuse or neglect. Since funded in 2012, ADS has helped over 85 victims by providing a broad range of support and access to community resources.

The United Nations has designated June 15 as World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. In support of elder abuse awareness, Mayor Mike McGinn will proclaim June 15th as Elder Abuse Awareness Day in Seattle.

Citizens can report concerns or suspected abuse of vulnerable adults to the Department of Social and Health Services at 1-866-EndHarm (1-866-363-4276). The hotline is confidential, toll-free and available 24 hours a day. For more information on elder abuse, please visit this Web page

Center City Initiative

CCI mapThe City of Seattle is working hard to make downtown Seattle a thriving, safe and inviting place for all. The Seattle Human Services Department (HSD) is teaming with a number of other City of Seattle departments, the City Council, key external agencies, service providers downtown residents and businesses on the Center City Initiative (CCI). The initiative is a long-term commitment to address challenges facing downtown neighborhoods through a wide range of actions focusing on public safety, street disorder, vital human services, public spaces and cleaning services.

With a focus on four downtown neighborhoods - Belltown, the 3rd Avenue Corridor, Pioneer Square and the International District - the goals are to
1. Create a street environment where all people feel safe
2. Sustain a vibrant and inviting public realm
3. Support thriving business and residential neighborhoods downtown
4. Provide outreach, health and human services to people in need
5. Provide many attractive options for traveling around downtown

HSD and its partners are focusing on the fourth goal, and we've already made great strides in reaching out to people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. Based on best practices from successful programs in other parts of the country, we are proposing a multidisciplinary outreach and engagement team approach to connecting people with services. The approach will create a more coordinated effort among service providers and government agencies with a focus on:

  • Meeting people where they are
  • Having multiple interactions with people at all times of the day and week
  • Flexible programs and program spaces
  • Collection of data to better understand needs.

For more information on Center City Initiative, please visit this Web site.  

Emergency preparedness for people with disabilities

Shelter exerciseA disaster can strike anyone, anytime, anywhere. If emergency management planning does not include the whole community, barriers may exist for some people to respond and recover from a disaster. After observing disasters across the country, emergency management planners have learned that people with disabilities can be especially vulnerable before, during and after a disaster event. These planners have a duty to seek input from the disability community, understand their capabilities and plan for potential disasters in a way that both empowers and minimizes barriers.

Leading this work for the Seattle Human Services Department (HSD) are Karimah Cooper and Jill Watson. Together, they coordinate the disaster planning for mass care, housing and human services for the city.

HSD's emergency management planning initiatives also involve many City departments and regional partners, including Seattle Parks and Recreation Department, Seattle Animal Shelter, Seattle Office of Emergency Management and Public Health - Seattle & King County. Additionally, numerous other organizations, such as the Hearing Speech and Deafness Center and the Seattle Commission for People with disAbilities, contribute to this effort. For more information, please contact Jill Watson, Seattle Human Services Department, at or 206-684-7788. 

HSD funding awards for youth, seniors, caregivers
The Seattle Human Services Department recently awarded $320,000 to three community agencies serving low-income youth through a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) process. Awarded agencies are: YouthCare, YMCA of Greater Seattle and SeaMar. The funding provides employment and educational services for in- and out-of-school youth who are 16 to 21 years old and meet Workforce Investment Act (WIA) eligibility guidelines. The agencies will support youth to succeed in school, access job-training and higher education opportunities, and gain the skills needed to progress into well-paying careers.

Among other recent funding awards:
  • A total of $2.8 million was awarded in May to 14 agencies for the Senior Nutrition Program, which includes congregate meals and dietician services.
  • $116,000 was awarded to Catholic Community Services for services supporting kinship caregivers (relatives caring for another family member's child).

For details please see this Web page.


HSD Deputy Director selected for Casey fellowship

Catherine LesterSeattle Human Services Deputy Director Catherine Lester is among 16 leaders from across the country selected to be one of the Annie E. Casey Foundation's 2013-2014 Children and Family Fellows. The fellowship was created to increase the pool of leaders with the vision, drive and ability to create and sustain major system reforms and community initiatives that benefit large numbers of children and families.


Fellows will participate in a series of intensive leadership opportunities, including group seminars, individual coaching, and site visits to learn about innovative service delivery models.  

New name for division
Two Seattle Human Services Department divisions - Community Support & Self-Sufficiency and Transitional Living & Support - have merged into one new division called the Community Support & Assistance (CSA) division. The name needs to be officially approved as part of the annual budget process, which will be completed this fall. CSA includes the following work teams:
  • Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault Prevention
  • Planning & Development Team
  • Homeless Services Investments
  • Community Development Block Grant & Facilities
  • Utility & Energy Assistance Program
  • Planning team that managed PeoplePoint and the Washington Portal
'A needed response'
A needed responseApril was Sexual Assault Awareness month and staff from the Human Services Department's Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Prevention unit came across this short but powerful video.  

Coffee Hour to feature Department of Neighborhoods Director

Bernie head shotPlease join us at the Mayor's for Senior Citizens' Senior Coffee Hour, this month featuring Seattle Department of Neighborhoods Director Bernie Matsuno.


Event details: Thursday, June 20, 2013, 10:00-11:00 a.m., at the Central Building, 810 3rd Ave., between Columbia and Marion streets. 

Mobilize volunteers for United Way Day of Caring
United Way logoUnited Way of King County's annual Day of Caring, the largest one-day mobilization of volunteers in King County, is on Friday, September 20th, 2013. Last year over 11,000 volunteers spent the day helping over 300 organizations with a variety of projects from painting, to job coaching, to landscaping and invasive plant removal. Your organization can be part of this great event by registering a project (or projects) between May 16th and July 19th 2013. Volunteers from companies throughout King County will start registering for projects in early August. For more information, please see this Web site.
Human Services Awards
The 2013 winners of the Seattle Human Services Coalition's Human Services Awards will be announced in a ceremony on June 13:
  • Outstanding Organization Award - Navos
  • Innovative Program Award - Scofflaw Mitigation Project
  • Excellence in Advocacy - Karen Jackel
  • Stewardship Award - Got Green
  • The Ron Chisom Anti-Racism Award - Council on American-Islamic Relations
  • Mayor's Award & Proclamation - The Center School Community 

For details, please see this Web site. 

How to play with infants and toddlers
Here is some great advice from Public Health - Seattle & King County on the importance of playing with your baby or toddler. 

HSD logo

Life Lines is published monthly by the City of Seattle's Human Service Department. Our mission is to connect people with resources and solutions during times of need so we can all live, learn, work and take part in strong, healthy communities. For more timely or breaking news, visit our blog, Human Interests, or visit our Web site. If you have questions, please e-mail David Takami or call 206-684-0253.

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