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West Seattle High School students take on the homelessness emergency, with a suggestion

(WSB photo)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

While action on the homelessness emergency might seem to be mostly on the shoulders of adults – dealing with everything from encampments to taxes – homelessness has caught the attention of young people too.

We heard this week from Amy Ijeoma, a West Seattle High School junior who along with classmate Lexus Greenway made it the focus of a project they’re presenting in a regional competition tomorrow. We sat down with Amy after school on Thursday at WSHS to talk about it.

It’s the STAR (Students Taking Action with Recognition) Events competition as part of FCCLA (Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America). Their job: To come up with an action plan and present it to event officials, which they’ll do along with one other WSHS team and others from around the area, Saturday at Ingraham. They’re competing in the “advocacy” category, one of 15 categories.

As part of it, they are urging community members to do their part. They’re focused on Hope Place, which is a program for families experiencing homelessness. Amy says that volunteering is even more valuable than donating – “better to be there and see it yourself rather than throw some money and say that you’ve helped” – though Union Gospel Mission, which operates Hope Place, would be happy with contributions in either. You can tutor homeless elementary students, for example (volunteering info here; donating info here).

While working on the project, Amy says, she and Lexus have been going to Hope Place themselves “once or twice a month … to interact with the kids there.” It’s not just a shelter but also has a children’s activity center and continuing education for women, in areas from parenting to relationships and more, to help them successfully transition out of homelessness.

With us as we talked were two of the teacher/advisers of the program, Raya Klein and Brooke Huddleston, who explained that the students learned about Hope Place from WSHS’s new career specialist Helen Maynard, whose background includes nonprofit work. Visitors from Home Place presented at a WSHS assembly earlier in the year.

So tomorrow, Amy and Lexus have a 40-slide deck to present, about their goal, their plan, what kind of impact they’ve had, both through volunteering and through raising awareness on campus, including the poster with which Amy is posing in our photo above. “We want to get you thinking,” she says. They’re planning more posters, including some with statistics, and the causes of homelessness.

Teacher Klein adds that it’s an issue the school’s student-leadership ASB has embraced as well. And if more in the community are interested in helping – especially volunteering – that’s a win, regardless of how Amy and Lexus, and WSHS’s other team (also focused on homelessness, we’re told), do tomorrow.

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West Seattle/Fauntleroy YMCA launches fundraising campaign


The photo and report are from Joleen Post of the West Seattle & Fauntleroy YMCA (WSB sponsor):

Tonight, more than 100 YMCA volunteers and staff kicked off the Together We Can Build a Better Us campaign at The Hall at Fauntleroy! 2016 is an exciting year at the West Seattle & Fauntleroy YMCA and the goal is to raise $400,000 by March 16.

$350,000 will be designated to the Youth and Family Programs Fund. This enables the Y to offer West Seattle kids the chance to develop their full potential through academic support and enrichment, camps, youth sports, swimming, after-school programs, early learning, and more. Many of the Y’s school-based academic-support programs are free thanks to community donations. For Y programs with a fee, this fund supports families who cannot afford the full cost.

$50,000 will be designated toward the Building Fund, supporting the upcoming West Seattle YMCA facility expansion and renovation. The Y has already raised nearly $3.64 million locally toward an overall goal of $4 million. Construction on the expansion and renovation will start when the Y receives building permits this spring. Learn more at

Donors may choose which fund they prefer to support or designate their gift to the Community’s Greatest Need. Since this year is a big one for the Y – the West Seattle & Fauntleroy YMCA Board is diving in and matching every new and increased gift.

You can help by giving to the Y’s just-launched Together We Can Build a Better Us campaign here.

YOU CAN HELP: Outdoor education for Roxhill Elementary

Another local school is hoping you can help send its 5th graders to outdoor-education camp. Roxhill Elementary‘s counselor launched the crowdfunding campaign and the tax-deductible donations go through the Roxhill PTSA, whose co-president Erica Lankford e-mailed to ask if we would share it:

The intention is to raise money to send Roxhill kids to camp and field trips since we do not have the funds to do so this year. Roxhill is a school in need. … 80% of our students are on free and reduced lunch. Many of our students have never had the chance to attend camp or other field trips that enrich their education.

The donation link is here.

Get your hair cut, do a good deed on Illusions Hair Design’s 2016 ‘Have a Heart Day’

If you need a haircut soon – heads up:

Next week brings the 23rd annual “Have a Heart Day” at Illusions Hair Design (WSB sponsor) – Saturday, February 13th.

This is the annual day when Illusions opens for haircuts – at reduced prices for women’s and men’s cuts (teens/kids at full price) – with every cent of the proceeds benefiting local nonprofits.

Proprietor Sue Lindblom (left) says this year’s edition will help the West Seattle Helpline – which provides emergency assistance to people in need – and Pencil Me In For Kids, which provides school supplies to local public-elementary-school students in need.

“Everyone donates their time,” Sue explained when we sat down for a quick chat in Illusions’ lobby at 5619 California SW. She had already been in business for 16 years when she came up with the idea in 1994. “We thought, gosh, we wanted to give something back to the community, so we’ve been doing this (and other community-benefit campaigns) ever since, because that’s what makes you part of the community.”

Sue is part of the West Seattle community through and through – even “born in The Junction,” half a mile from her salon, she points out.

“Have a Heart Day” isn’t just a chance to do a good deed while getting a good haircut. It’s also something of a party. “We’ll have some treats for the customers who come in, and it’s just kind of fun – several of us will be hanging around.” You’ll get a chance to learn about the beneficiary nonprofits, too, and “you just walk away with a real good feeling,” as Sue puts it. It’s fun for them too – “we meet a lot of nice people we’ve never met before.”

But they have a limited number of appointments that day, so call Illusions ASAP – 206-938-3675 – if you want to “Have a Heart” on this special day.

West Seattle weekend scene: Hiawatha pancake time


So it’s brunch time more than breakfast time now, but – as previewed in our West Seattle Sunday list – you can still get pancakes and fixins at Hiawatha Community Center until noon.


The money raised goes to the scholarship fund to help cover the costs of programs so everyone can participate regardless of whether they can afford it.


This is on until noon. Hiawatha is at 2700 California SW.

SUNDAY: Pancake time at Hiawatha!

(WSB photo from 2013 Hiawatha pancake breakfast)
Pancake breakfasts are a time-honored and tasty way to raise some money – and this Sunday is one of the biggest ones of the year, Hiawatha Community Center‘s annual pancake breakfast. 8 am-noon on Sunday (January 31st) you’re invited into the gym at 2700 California SW for all-you-can-eat pancakes with butter and syrup; sausage, fruit, and bagels available too. $6 for people 13 and up; $5 for ages 3 to 12; free for ages 2 and under. Proceeds benefit the scholarship fund to ensure that more people can enjoy programs at Hiawatha.

FOLLOWUP: Trench incident victim identified; fund set up to help family


One day after a worker was killed while working in a trench alongside an Admiral home, the King County Medical Examiner’s office has identified him: 36-year-old Harold Felton. And in response to community members who have asked what they can do to help Mr. Felton’s family, his brother-in-law has announced a GoFundMe page on behalf of wife Jenna and baby daughter Grace. Find it here.

The page says, in part:

With his loss my sister will have to support her daughter and try to do what she can in the face of this unbearable loss. Funeral expenses are always high and she and Harold are modest people, but he was the only source of income for their family. Any expenses over that which covers the funeral will be devoted to helping take care of Jenna and Grace during this trying time.

Mr. Felton was working on what city documents describe as side-sewer repair alongside a house near 36th SW and SW Hanford when dirt suddenly fell into the trench yesterday morning. A huge response of firefighters and rescue equipment converged but was unable to dig their way to Mr. Felton in time.

State Labor and Industries is investigating; we just checked again with spokesperson Elaine Fischer, and she says it will be at least a month before they have anything to say. As we reported yesterday, and as Fischer reiterated today, the company working at the site, Arbor Heights-based Alki Construction, has no record of safety problems. This was the first trench-work death in our state in more than seven years.

YOU CAN HELP: Outdoor-education camp for Highland Park Elementary students

Outdoor-education camp is a highlight of the year for many students in our area. But it comes with a cost, and that’s a challenge for some schools and families. The fifth-grade teachers at Highland Park Elementary are trying an online fundraiser to help make sure none of their students are left behind, and one of their colleagues asked if we could share the link in hopes of inspiring some community generosity. From the teachers’ explanation:

Every year, we get to watch our students learn in a way that cannot be provided inside the four walls of a classroom. It is absolutely amazing to see the transformation under which many students go as they see a world beyond the one where they live.

You’ll find the fundraiser here. (For more on some of HPES’s challenges, read our report on a community conversation in 2014.)

YOU CAN HELP! Honor history by beautifying Beach Drive area’s Chilberg Avenue SW

Tomorrow, Sunday, and subsequent weekends into mid-March, you are invited to join West Seattle’s newest neighborhood-beautification campaign – on the sloped median of Chilberg Avenue between Genesee and Douglas, just east of Beach Drive, leading to Emma Schmitz Memorial Overlook Park.

(WSB photo showing part of the project area)

A group of neighbors, Friends of the Chilberg Link, successfully applied for a Neighborhood Matching Fund grant, $8,900 to be matched by more than $10,000 in volunteer work and contributions. Janice Nyman – herself an arborist and architect – sent word that their work parties are about to begin and they’re inviting participation.

“Although its looking pretty raw right now,” she said, “I think it’s going to be quite pretty: Fruit trees, pollinator wild flowers, berries!” You can see the plan here.

The announcement adds that “Friends of the Chilberg Link will remove invasives, prune vegetation, plant edible plants, and create an area for rainwater holding and a secured art piece. Work parties will be held in the winter and spring of 2016. Professional landscape firms will be hired to lead the community in landscape installation, including: Mariposa Naturescapes, Garden Cycles, and Black Lotus Landscaping LLC.”

The project will evoke the area’s history, according to research done by local historian Judy Bentley – a one-lane road ran through a meadow filled with wildflowers.

At the northern end of the Schmitz property, a single-lane dirt road wound down a hill through substantially uninhabited meadow to a dead end a block beyond Carroll Street.

When walking to and from the old Alki School [at Chilberg Ave. SW/59th and Carroll], we frequently preferred the trail along Chilberg Avenue, to enjoy some of the most beautiful wild flowers in the open fields and leading up into ‘The woods,’ the hillside forest.” (Lillevand Papers, SWSHS).

“We love the historical reference to a winding meadow with wildflowers, so we are using it as the basis of our design,” Nyman says.

Join them Saturdays and Sundays, 10:30 am-12:30 pm. You’re asked to “bring shovels, pruners, and gloves”; cardboard donations are welcome too, as is the donated use of yard-waste containers. Questions? Contact Nyman at

P.S. If you or someone you know has more information about the history of Chilberg Avenue, please contact Bentley at or Lissa Kramer at the Log House Museum.

TOMORROW: Take your trivia team to a fundraiser for the Senior Center of West Seattle!

Tomorrow night, you have an extra-special opportunity to play trivia hosted by longtime Talarico’s trivia host Phillip Tavel, while helping the Senior Center of West Seattle! Doors open Tuesday at 7, with trivia starting at 7:30, at the Senior Center (in the Sisson Building, California/Oregon). $12/person if you sign up in advance, at or by phone at 206-932-4044, extension 1; $15/person at the door. The Senior Center needs an extra boost this year because of a funding cut, as reported here last month. No-host bar and snacks will be available. Go show what you know!

YOU CAN HELP! Local students are waiting for literacy tutors

Dozens of local students are waiting for tutors to help them improve their reading skills. Maybe you can help? From Reading Partners:

Reading Partners is a nonprofit literacy organization that recruits and trains community volunteers to work one-on-one with elementary students who are behind grade level benchmarks in reading. At each of our school sites we have a dedicated reading center where all tutoring takes place. Volunteers are asked to commit to as little as one-hour of tutoring each week. We ask that each volunteer commits to the same one-hour to work with the same student weekly. During every session tutors follow a structured, research-based curriculum with the support of a full-time AmeriCorps Site Coordinator. Additionally, we offer initial and on-going training and support for every volunteer.

Anyone interested in getting involved can follow this link to sign up or contact Reading Partners at Below is scheduling and location information for our highest need schools:

Highland Park Elementary, 1012 SW Trenton St
*21 students waiting for a tutor
*Tutoring runs from 8:45 a.m. to 2:35 p.m. Monday through Thursday

Sanislo Elementary, 1812 SW Myrtle St
*13 students waiting for a tutor
*Tutoring runs from 9:30 a.m. to 3:40 p.m. Monday through Thursday

West Seattle weekend scene: Firefighter fundraising

January 16, 2016 1:24 pm
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 |   How to help | West Seattle news

While on an errand in The Junction this afternoon, we happened onto Port of Seattle firefighters fundraising for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society on behalf of a big event that’s coming up: The Scott Firefighter Stairclimb, March 6th at Columbia Center downtown. They’re done for today but told us they planned to be back 9 am-1 pm next Saturday (January 23rd).

Lafayette Elementary community mourns student’s mom, victim of Everett espresso-stand fire

January 12, 2016 2:53 pm
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 |   How to help | West Seattle news

(Everett Fire Department photo)

We’ve just learned today from Seattle Public Schools that the woman killed in an Everett espresso-stand fire was the mother of a student at West Seattle’s Lafayette Elementary School.

SPS says Lafayette’s principal Robert Gallagher and acting assistant principal Kathy Jolly are sending a note to the school community:

It is with great sadness and a heavy heart that we share the tragic news that a Lafayette parent died yesterday after a recent and sudden accident.

As a community, we will come together to support the student and family. We will continue to have counselors and mental health support available for students, staff and families, as needed.

When someone dies, it is normal for children to have different kinds of feelings and reactions. Parents and guardians have important roles in helping students understand these tragedies. We understand that each culture has its own way of dealing with death, and we encourage children to talk with their families about their ideas, thoughts and beliefs. We recognize that even if your student may not have known or been close to this family, he/she may still feel a strong reaction. We also realize this may be your child’s first experience with death or it may trigger feelings about other deaths your child may have experienced.

The family will be in our thoughts as they grieve their loss. As we learn of more ways to support them, we will let the school community know. Please note that we are honoring the family’s request for privacy at this time.

The victim has been identified in regional media, including The Seattle Times, as Courtney Campbell. She was badly burned when her Everett espresso stand went up in flames – complicated by a propane-tank explosion – on Thursday, and then came news yesterday that she had died. She was mother of two daughters, including the Lafayette student, and her family has set up a GoFundMe account.

UPDATE: Caspar Babypants canceled, performer ailing

January 12, 2016 2:02 pm
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 |   How to help | West Seattle news

THURSDAY UPDATE: Organizers say the concert is canceled and they’re refunding advance ticket sales – CB is ill.

Just got word of a concert that will liven up this Saturday morning for hundreds of local families – Caspar Babypants is performing at the Brockey Center on the south side of the South Seattle College (WSB sponsor) campus. It’s a fundraiser for the SSC Cooperative Preschools’ Mary E. Philips Scholarship Fund – organizers say, “It’s a super-fun time for a great cause. Come dance with your kids and help keep co-op preschool available and affordable for all families.” 10:30 am Saturday (January 16th), 45-minute show, admission $7 (kids under 1 year old are free). WSB photo, 2014

P.S. Tickets will be sold at the door – or you can get yours online now, here.

Admiral Neighborhood Association’s first meeting of the year Tuesday. Want to step up and be a leader?

January 10, 2016 2:55 pm
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 |   How to help | Neighborhoods | West Seattle news

Tuesday night, the Admiral Neighborhood Association meets for the first time this year – and it’s a big one, as ANA president David Whiting reminded the ANA mailing list in his announcement: “Your attendance would be really helpful as we need to accept nominations and elect new officers for ANA and a voting quorum is required. We certainly welcome anyone to step forward to be nominated as president, vice-president, secretary and treasurer.” The organization’s bylaws limit terms, and so Whiting and the others currently on ANA’s executive committee must step aside for new leadership. Here’s more information about what it entails; here’s more information about the group’s 2015 accomplishments; and here’s the full preview of Tuesday’s meeting (7 pm, The Sanctuary at Admiral, 42nd SW and SW Lander), also including an update on what’s next for the former site of interim Fire Station 29.

YOU CAN HELP! Sustainable West Seattle seeking board members

January 8, 2016 9:27 pm
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 |   How to help | Sustainable West Seattle | West Seattle news

From Sustainable West Seattle‘s Stu Hennessey:

Sustainable West Seattle has board of director positions open for 2016. The board members meet once a month to plan the activities and events, like the Green Life Festival that Sustainable West Seattle is known for. The board members also take part in the management of the various projects they partner with such as the West Seattle Tool Library and the Community Orchard of West Seattle.

Being involved with Sustainable West Seattle can be great for experiencing the building of community and hope. Please join us!

The annual membership meeting for Sustainable West Seattle will be held on MLK Day of Service, January 18th at the Admiral Bird Café, located at the corner of California Ave. SW and SW Admiral Way. The meet and greet starts at 6:30 pm and the meeting starts at 7 pm.

YOU CAN HELP! Chief Sealth IHS benefit auction tickets update

January 8, 2016 9:22 am
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 |   How to help | West Seattle news | West Seattle schools

From the Chief Sealth International High School PTSA: Sunday night is your deadline to get early-bird tickets for the 7th annual Seahawk Spirit Auction fundraiser:


David Kelly is this year’s auctioneer!

The Chief Sealth Jazz Band will be performing. Come enjoy the fantastic entertainment of our talented student musicians directed by Brian Goetz.

More hot stuff to bid on:

• Take a ride with the Seattle Police Department Harbor Patrol
• Pagliacci Pizza gift card
• Reisling Wine Basket
• Woodland Park Zoo passes

Something for everyone and every budget!

The auction’s on February 20th in the Brockey Center at South Seattle College (WSB sponsor). Get your ticket(s) online here.

YOU CAN HELP! Donation drive for All Cycles at West Seattle VAIN

A unique, and much-needed, donation drive is under way this month at VAIN (WSB sponsor) in The Junction.

They’re one of six dropoff locations in the city collecting “pads, tampons, wet wipes, and underwear of various sizes and styles” for All Cycles, which provides menstrual products for homeless and income-insecure people in need. Chelsea from VAIN explains that it’s a “grassroots effort” started in the community; you can drop off unopened boxes/packages of the requested items at their West Seattle boutique/salon, 4513 California SW. The drive continues through February 20th.

West Seattle scene: Offering post-Christmas gift of warmth

ORIGINAL: Thanks to Marianne for sharing the photo of what she saw near the Westwood Village Staples. While the winter-holiday donation drives are over, the need for warm clothing is not (and if you know of ways/places people can keep donating, please let us know – – thanks!).

ADDED MONDAY: Judy Pickens replies to our request above:

The Homelessness Task Force at Fauntleroy Church is collecting new athletic socks through January for distribution to homeless men by Operation Nightwatch. Collection boxes are in the church lobby and narthex (9140 California Ave. SW). Those not able to buy socks may leave a check in the church office.

TOMORROW: Give the gift of life – and education! – at local student-organized blood drive

Another chance to clear the decks for the new year by wrapping up the old one with a gift – a potentially life-saving blood donation, at a time of the year when it matters more than ever. Local student Dennise Lopez is co-hosting it at Holy Family tomorrow. Here’s her announcement, if you haven’t already seen it in the WSB West Seattle Event Calendar:

What a wonderful gift – please help save lives by donating blood. During the holiday season, your donation is more important than ever. When schools, Boeing, and Microsoft are closed for the holidays and donors are just plain busy, the Blood Center sees a 15 percent decrease in donations, yet they need to collect even more blood (1,000 units a day) to maintain supplies through the holidays. The Bloodworks Northwest (formerly Puget Sound Blood Center) bloodmobile will be at Holy Family Parish, 9622 20th Ave. SW, on Tuesday, December 29th, from 10:00 am to noon, and 1:00 until 4:00 pm. Walk-ins are always welcome, but reservations are preferred. Anyone who is in good health, is at least 18 years old (persons 16 or 17 years old may donate with a Blood Program consent form signed by a legal guardian), and weighs at least 110 pounds may donate blood every 56 days. To help ensure success of the blood drive, please make a reservation by contacting Dennise Lopez at 206-414-8402 or by email at

P.S. You’re giving another gift by participating – Bloodworks offers college-scholarship money to students who organize successful drives. Dennise is a Chief Sealth International High School graduate currently attending UW Bothell.

FOLLOWUP: Here’s a local organization accepting last-minute toy donations for Christmas gifts

We published a question earlier today, on behalf of a reader who asked, and anyone else who might be wondering: Who’s still accepting toys for Christmas gift donations in our area? Alice Braverman replied:

Navos, a nonprofit organization located in West Seattle and Burien, serves the most vulnerable children and youth in our community. Our clients include school-age children who have been removed from their homes due to neglect and abuse as well as older youth with serious mental health issues. We also serve all ages of low income children and youth with outpatient services in their homes and in over 40 schools. We would be pleased to accept donations of toys to distribute to our clients. We can arrange to pick them up tomorrow morning before noon if anyone in our community would like to donate to Navos and the children we help. Contact us at Community support is vital to sustaining our programs and services so thank you for your consideration.

If you know of anyone else also still accepting toy donations (or other gift items) tomorrow, please e-mail us and/or comment.

HOLIDAY GIVING: Anyone still collecting last-minute donations?

Most of the gift drives we had featured in the WSB West Seattle Holiday Guide are over now, so that the recipient organizations have time to get everything wrapped and delivered for Christmas. So after getting a reader note asking what to do with unwrapped, unopened toys, we’re asking you: Anyone still in need of donated items for Christmas gifts, toys or otherwise? If so, please let us know what/who and when/where dropoffs can be made. You can e-mail us at – we’ll add to the story – or, you can comment below. Thanks!

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