Bellevue LifeSpring is making a huge impact on our community during this time of uncertainty and economic struggle. We caught up with Executive Director, Jennifer Fischer to learn more about their mission.
Tell us a little bit about Bellevue LifeSpring’s mission.
Bellevue LifeSpring was established as the Overlake Service League by a group of women living in Bellevue’s earliest neighborhoods in 1911. Members delivered goats to provide milk for struggling families and started a well-baby clinic for immunizations and routine exams. In 1933, members also gave small tractors, seeds and farming equipment to families in need so they could grow their own food. In 1941, the agency donated 50,000 half pints of milk to children in schools.
Today, Bellevue LifeSpring continues to support children and their families living in poverty with an innovative, wraparound approach to services. Our goal is to address basic needs and provide educational support so low-income students graduate at the same rate as their peers by 2025. Our mission is to foster stability and self-sufficiency for Bellevue’s children and their families through programs that provide food, clothing, education and emergency assistance.
How has COVID-19 impacted our community and your work?
Despite Bellevue’s reputation for affluence, there are 3,500 children living in poverty and 368 kids are experiencing homelessness. The pandemic has been devastating for these families. With schools closed, parents are left scrambling to provide breakfast and lunch for their children. Families who have experienced job loss are left wondering how to pay their rent. During this crisis, we’ve established a laser-focused goal that no child in Bellevue will experience hunger or homelessness as a result of COVID-19.
How can people help from afar in this trying time?
Being flexible and responsive has always been a part of Bellevue LifeSpring’s DNA. Now, we have the opportunity to demonstrate these traits in an emergency unlike we’ve ever experienced before.
Our Board of Directors, which includes the Bellevue School District superintendent and other community leaders, has voted proactively to meet needs as they arise. For example, our first emergency food voucher order was approved within 24 hours of learning the need. We’ve also removed the requirement of an eviction notice from our rent assistance program so we can begin helping families before the eviction ban lifts.
Bellevue LifeSpring has the partnerships and logistics in place to meet the need, our only limitation is the funding to make it happen. Your investments will be immediately applied to preventing hunger and homelessness right here in Bellevue.
If you’d like to make an impact with your friends and families, there are lots of ways to work collectively while social distancing. Check out our blog for suggestions of how to fund-raise, spread the word, or collect food and hygiene items for families in need.
Can you include any statistics/facts that might have impact as we ask for donations?
In just two months, we have already helped 46 families with rent payments. To give you some perspective, we helped 20 families during the same two months last year. With the effects of an economic downturn looming, we anticipate this need to continue to increase. We’ve also provided grocery store vouchers to 2,850 students and their families while schools are closed, totaling over $800,000. We estimate the total need through August for food and rent assistance to be more than $1 million.
Learn more about all of the amazing work being done by Bellevue LifeSpring here.