“It was heart wrenching to see my child cry and ask ‘Why can’t we just get a place of our own?’” KITH’s client Suzette Guity shared on Friday, March 14 with 187 guests plus volunteers at KITH’s 5th Annual Fighting Homelessness Luncheon, presented by FIX AUTO Bellevue and Len’s Automotive at The Westin Bellevue. Founded in 1989, KITH (Kirkland Interfaith Transitions in Housing)’s mission is bringing our community together to partner with homeless families by providing affordable housing, empowering them with practical case management and hope.
“Having a safe, stable place to live gave us the opportunity to begin working on our goals and I can share some of those with you: I took training and passed the state licensing exam to be a Licensed Home Care provider…Now I am working as a caregiver and with an income I was able to save money and purchase a used car. My son runs track and field and won a national title as the age of 10. This year with the sponsorship of KITH he is joining a team through USA Track & Field. Last year he won first place in his event at State and placed regionally. He’s a winner and I believe in him!”
Emcee KOMOTV4 Investigative Reporter Jeff Burnside shocked a few guests as he announced that the Seattle Metro area of King County has the third highest population of homeless people in the country. Honorary Luncheon Chair, King County Council Vice Chair Jane Hague, surprised many who had not read that the 2014 One Night Count of Homeless Persons in King County showed an increase of 14% over 2013, and that Bellevue School District has 157 homeless students, up from 131 in 2013, and Lake Washington School District identifies 209 homeless students (up from 169 last year).
KITH Executive Director Jennifer Barron told guests “It takes more than a roof over your head to win the race caused by a crisis of homelessness. We partner on a journey with our families to make real lasting change. Last year KITH case managers spent more than 4,500 hours working alongside families, meeting them one to one, helping them identify their strengths, plan their next steps, empowering them to go back and get that GED, college degree, or clear up their credit rating. Families might compare their case manager to a coack, focused on wins and executing the basics that help them create a solid track record.” Barron reported that in 2013 KITH served 44 families including 54 children with housing and services. 100% of families graduating from KITH programs in 2013 successfully transitioned to permanent, stable homes.
Keynote speaker Olympic Gold Medalist Anna Mickelson Cummins inspired guests with stories about her 2008 Olympic Gold win in Beijing, reminding the audience that teams working together with the support they need can overcome any obstacle.
Joan McBride, candidate for Washington State Senate, challenged guests to stretch their giving. Angels contributed $27,000 to the Bill Petter Angel Matching Fund to match gifts at the event, which raised over $73,000 to support KITH programs helping homeless families transition to stable housing and self-sufficiency.
John Chapman of the Holmberg Company accepted the 2014 Bill Petter Homeless Housing Advocate Award for Holmberg Company. This award honors an individual or company for exceptional dedication and investment of time, talent and treasure to further KITH’s work helping homeless families transition to self-sufficiency.
KITH announced during the final remarks at the event that it was one of five local nonprofits chosen by Windermere Foundation to compete in its “Charity Challenge.” The community can help raise another $25,000 from Windermere Foundation for KITH programs by voting for KITH March17 - April 4 (daily) and sharing with friends on social media. For details of the Charity Challenge visit www.kithcares.org.
For homeless families,