Spaghetti for support: Dinner to aid Central Area transitional housing

On March 11, Epiphany Church in Madrona will host its sixth-annual spaghetti-dinner fund-raiser to benefit the YWCA East Cherry transitional housing program.

Hosted by Madison Valley's Bill and Karen Forbes, the dinner is one of the many ways Madrona-based Epiphany Church contributes to the program, which focuses on helping families on their way toward independence.

"Our East Cherry apartments are for clients who have already been through our emergency-housing program [on Boren and Yesler], and transitional housing is the next step for them," said Sarah Ortner, community resource coordinator for the East Cherry YWCA.

Supporting families

The apartments, located in Seattle's Central Area, are available to families for up to 18 months; rent is based on a percentage of their income.

"We also help families open savings accounts and manage their money," Ortner added. "Our case managers help them find child-care opportunities, take care of their medical needs and address domestic-violence concerns. It is a support system to help people stabilize themselves."

The families referred to East Cherry apartments by their case managers must be in a position to make the step toward transitional housing

"We don't want to put anyone in a position to fail, so we have to make sure they are ready to make that move," Ortner said.

The East Cherry transitional housing program strives to be supportive of families in all situations.

"Our transitional program is different from others because we work very hard to keep families together. A lot of programs just accept women and their children," Ortner said.

"A lot of times people come to us with criminal histories or drug histories - things that make them unsuitable to other programs," she continued. " We work really hard to try not to turn anyone away."

Other services

The East Cherry YWCA, 2820 E. Cherry St., doesn't just provide housing; its programs take a comprehensive approach to addressing the total needs of the families.

The YWCA offers many different services to meet our clients' needs, including an eviction-prevention program, teen-parent programs and a GirlsFirst mentoring program for girls in ninth grade.

"Within our housing services, we try to address the total needs of the families," Ortner. "It's not just a housing program; we help them with all their needs in becoming self-sufficient."

Between the emergency-housing services and the transitional housing, the YWCA has more than 70 units available to families. A great deal of support for these programs comes from the volunteer work from Epiphany, an Episcopal church approaching its centennial anniversary.

"The church has been very helpful in bringing in funds that we put toward our transitional housing," Ortner said. "They've recently been really stepping up their involvement."

"Epiphany has been involved in the neighborhood through social-action groups for quite a few years," said Forbes. "We've worked with the East Cherry YWCA for about 20 years, helping out through donations."

A high school project

The Forbes' fund-raising dinner started out as a high school project for their daughter, Christina.

"[Christina] decided to do a charity dinner to help raise money for East Cherry YWCA.... A lot of people [got] involved, and [it] got a lot of news and publicity for the housing program," Forbes explained. "From that point on, my wife and I took over, with help from other people from the church."

This year, proceeds from the benefit dinner will go toward upgrading the kitchen used in YWCA's Youth Program, which educates residents about nutrition and healthy eating. Currently, the kitchen does not meet USDA requirements, putting the program's funding in jeopardy.

The church also collects donations on an ongoing basis. There is a current need for can openers.

"Families come into East Cherry and then move into regular housing, and often they are permitted to take some of the kitchen things with them. So we have a program of replenishing what is needed for the new families," Forbes said.

In the past, the spaghetti dinner has helped to raise between $600 and $700 each year for the East Cherry YWCA. This year, the goal is between $1,200 and $1,500.

"We like doing it because it's a local program. Rather than giving money to some large entity, we can do hands-on work," Forbes said. "It's a self-help thing we like being involved with."

The dinner will take place March 11 at Epiphany Church, 1805 38th Ave., from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Cost is $6 per person; $12 per family.

Monique Ohanessian may be contacted via[[In-content Ad]]