The Chairman's Corner

Notes from Merv Shetler

July 2009

Bluebills Support for the Homeless – A Humbling Experience

In the last Corner I highlighted the many projects Bluebills are supporting in our four chapters. For the last five years, the Bluebills have averaged 85,431 hours/year volunteering their time, energy, skills, knowledge and experience to enhance their lives and to improve the quality of life in their respective communities.

For this column I have selected one project to highlight: -- a very humbling experience for all of us who participated.

Homelessness is a common concern in all our communities. United Way’s  Community Resource Exchange Program attempts to address this with a program that connects thousands of homeless people in our region with the services and resources they need.  In one place.  On one day.

The site was Qwest Field on April 8th and a number of Bluebills volunteered.  The day before the Day of Caring we assembled 1500 hygiene kits, sorted donated clothes into bins of socks, undergarments, dress clothes, winter coats, blankets, etc. which we brought with us.  Our members donated approximately $300 of socks, blankets and supplies. 

Qwest Field was set up with booths to provide information on employment opportunities, training, education, legal assistance and voter registration.

That morning about 900 homeless were greeted with a hot meal.  Some 400 volunteers assisted the attendees in finding the services they desired -- from free health service, haircuts, counseling, employment interviews, to voice mail accounts and more. Each participant received a hygiene kit and some much needed clothes together with a backpack for carrying everything.

It was an awesome experience for the homeless and the volunteers.

The 900 attendees represented only about 10 percent of the homeless One-Night-Count taken last January. The One-Night-Count is a point-in-time census of homeless found 8,500 in King County. Of that count they found 2,630 people surviving outside without shelter. (Some of our Bluebills also participated in the January count, where in the early morning hours, they found people on the street, under bridges, freeway underpasses, sleeping in cars and riding the bus all night.)

Here is a geographical breakdown of the homeless in King County :
         55% Seattle
         15% South King County
          6% Outside of King County
          5% East King County
          4% North King County
15% Outside of Washington State

Household Composition:
         36% Single adult men
         13% Single adult women
         50% Families with children
          1% Youth

The next Community Resource Exchange is scheduled for September 2009. The United Way is asking for our help again.  M.J. Sanker is the project leader on this worthwhile effort.

 Other sponsors for this program include Microsoft, Virginia Mason and Seattle Seahawks.  Additional information on this volunteer opportunity will be forthcoming in the near future.  

Your service will provide you with the satisfaction of helping connect homeless people with immediate access to the service and resources they need. It is a step in the Mayor’s goal to End Homelessness in King County.  But most of all, you will have a profound personal experience.  That’s what volunteering is all about and it’s another one of the good things that Bluebills membership provides.



"Charity sees the need, not the cause." – German Proverb

Merv Shetler

Chair, Central Leadership Council

Fall '08 Chairman's Corner


January '07 Chairman's Corner

December '07 Chairman's Corner

To see Bluebills Volunteer Statistics, click on the chart icon to the left.

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 date of this page version:15 September 2008