Category Archives: Volunteering and Giving

People’s Place fundraiser at El Centro tonight

People’s Place is a new homeless advocacy organization combining community support with professional advocacy to help chronically homeless people become stable. We are hosting a fundraiser and information session at El Centro de la Raza, 2524 16th Avenue South, tonight from 6:30 – 8:00 pm.

Auction items include arts and crafts created by our members, as well as packages that include a chance to spend time with local political figures—have lunch with Mike McGinn, go for a bike ride with Mike O’Brien, or enjoy drinks with Pete Holmes. All proceeds go directly to shelter costs for People’s Place members. Contributions are tax deductible.

Light snacks, good company, great cause—what better way to spend a Friday night on Beacon Hill?

The suggested donation is $35 at the door. For more information, see the People’s Place Facebook page or email  If you can’t make it to the event, please consider making a donation using the PayPal link.  Thanks!

(Melissa, who contributes the “Walking with Tica” column to the BHB, is a co-founder of People’s Place.)

EarthCorps opportunities abound this weekend

Via Craig Thompson on the BAN list:

Saturday, January 16, EarthCorps, Seattle Parks & Recreation, and the Seattle Green Partnership will kickoff the Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday / King County United Way Day of Caring volunteer events at Dr. Jose Rizal Park. The event runs from 10 AM to 2 PM, with set up beginning around 9. Around 50 volunteers are expected, who’ll work on planting 300+ native plants and doing maintenance work on previously cleared areas, and continue reclaiming the southwestern slope of the area for restoration. If a few neighbors come, we can move some logs and improve the trail into the area, too.

And on Sunday, January 17, in case you can make it, at Dearborn Park off Othello Orcas, there will be another event, from 10 AM to 2 PM.

A second Beacon Hill event will take place on Monday, January 18, with 300 volunteers (!) coming to the Cheasty Greenspace on the east side of the hill. Sponsors include EarthCorps, the Green Seattle Partnership, Service for Peace, City Year, YMCA Earth Service Corps, University of Washington, and Seattle Parks and Recreation. This is the “signature” event for the MLK Day of Caring volunteer events in Seattle’s south end. Following the event will be a service appreciation reception at Jefferson Community Center, which is a great opportunity to network with volunteer agencies doing on the ground work on Beacon Hill.

The Beacon Hill events are on our event calendar, as well.

Thanks Craig! And thanks for the correction, Deborah!

Walking with Tica: Neighborhood Planning

North Beacon Hill neighborhood plan update cover

Cover of the North Beacon Hill neighborhood plan update from DPD

Have you checked out the North Beacon Hill Neighborhood Plan Update? In case you’re new to North Beacon Hill, this is the draft document generated out of hours of meetings with the City of Seattle Department of Planning and Development (DPD).  The North Beacon Hill Neighborhood Council and many individuals have worked very hard to collect input and share neighborhood opinions about how our community (“urban village”) should look.

Perhaps the biggest change proposed in this draft is increasing the height limit of buildings surrounding the light rail station.  There’s also a proposal to update El Centro de la Raza’s zoning.  It’s currently single family residential—no, I’m not joking. In case you’re unfamiliar with El Centro, there are dozens of programs operating out of that building, serving thousands of people of all ages and from all backgrounds.  Childcare, senior meals, homeless services, a food bank, immigrant advocacy, and more.  There are also businesses operating within El Centro: CommuniChi acupuncture, Excelsior Travel Agency, and others.  For a complete list and to learn how to volunteer or make a donation to El Centro, visit their website. El Centro hopes to develop affordable housing and expand their program facilities.  This is an incredible opportunity for our entire neighborhood.

One potential future for North Beacon Hill (looking north on Beacon Avenue, near McClellan).
Many people have concerns and fears about changes to our neighborhood, especially around the idea of increasing density.  What’s important to you? What makes Beacon Hill a place you want to live?  What would you change?  I’m concerned about preserving the character of our neighborhood and encouraging good design.  I want to keep what we have (Red Apple, Baja Bistro, La Cabaña, etc.) and add businesses that serve our community (a bookstore, a consignment store).  I want to preserve the charm of our single family blocks and add dense, affordable housing near the station.  I want our sidewalks and crosswalks accessible to the seniors who’ve lived here for decades and to those of us pushing strollers through the neighborhood.

My priorities around neighborhood planning were honed when we were looking for a house in 2003.  I attended Seattle Midwifery School at El Centro (they’ve now moved) and loved Beacon Hill.   It only took one walking tour to convince my partner that this was a great place to live.  Our goal is to live in this house for 20-30 years.  We planned where we were going to buy a house based on what was important to us:

  • walkability/run-ability (safety, accessibility, comfort, quality of sidewalks and trails)
  • services (grocery store, library, coffee shop, bar/pub, restaurant)
  • transit access and easy access by car to other places
  • diversity
  • established community
  • parks and green spaces

We’re expecting another human member of the family in May.  I’m excited to see baby/kid-friendly businesses opening in our neighborhood.  We always assumed we’d send our kid to the neighborhood school, and were content with Beacon Elementary and Kimball as choices.  The Seattle School District is shifting to location-based school assignment, which will (hopefully) mean that our south-end schools start achieving parity with the rest of the city.

Change can be challenging.  For some perspective on all the changes in Beacon Hill over the last 100 years or so, check out Seattle’s Beacon Hill by Frederica Merrell and Mira Latoszek. (Merrell is an occasional contributor to the BHB. — ed.) The book is chock-full of photos from the Jackson Regrade—when neighborhood planning meant washing huge portions of the city down into the Sound!  Now is our chance to shape our community for decades to come.  Get informed; get involved.  Attend meetings (the North Beacon Hill Council meets on the first Thursday of every month at the library) and talk to your neighbors.

(Editor’s note: If you’d like your own copy of Seattle’s Beacon Hill, you can order one from Amazon through the link on the lower right of this page.)

An artist's depiction of a future event at the Lander Festival Street, from the North Beacon Hill neighborhood plan update.

Education roundup: Open houses and more

Photo by Doug Wilson.
The STEM Open House and recruiting fair is happening at Cleveland High School on Saturday, January 23rd from 10am to noon. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, and is a curriculum with where students may choose from two academies: Life Science and Global Health or Engineering and Technology. See the PDF flyer. More information on the program at

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Jerrod Gonzales, the Director of Childcare at Jefferson Community Center, shares:

[O]ur After-School program was lucky enough to receive a $3,000 grant from School’s Out Washington for quality improvement. We are very excited for the opportunity to add new reading and homework materials to our site to help our kids succeed!

The community center currently has openings in their after-school program — contact Jerrod if you’d like more information.

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Romina Rivera, Volunteer Coordinator for Youth Programs for Neighborhood House, writes:

WANTED: Mentors for Middle School Students

January is National Mentoring Month. To celebrate, Neighborhood House is launching the Recruit-A-Mentor Challenge. We’re trying to double the number of our CASASTART volunteer mentors for our middle school students.

Mentors are an important component of CASASTART. Each month, mentors join our students in various activities during after-school hours. These activities range from educational to simply hanging out. By being present each month, mentors become positive adult role models to our students which they may not otherwise have if it were not for the CASASTART program. The time commitment is two hours per month with the students plus some planning time with the other mentors. We ask that mentors commit at least six months to the program.

If you (or anyone you know) are interested in becoming a mentor, please e-mail for more information on how to get started as a mentor.

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Lissa Munger, a teacher at Van Asselt Elementary, writes concerning an Open House there on Thursday, January 28th from 6:30-8:30pm:

We want to welcome community members, not just current Van Asselt families. At the open house, neighbors can:

  • Learn more about the Student Assignment Plan
  • Find out which schools your family is assigned to
  • See our facilities
  • Meet current Van Asselt staff and families (and district officials)
  • Hear about Van Asselt’s programs
  • Participate in a parent meeting

Please plan to join us!

ROCKiT space roundup

ROCKiT space logo
Image courtesy
ROCKiT space music classes for kids and teens, hosted by Marc Smason and Stephanie Hughes, have started as of Monday this week. For kids ages 6 to 11, classes are held on Mondays Thursdays from 4:00 to 5:30 pm. Kids from 12 to 18 can attend the Tuesday classes, also from 4:00 to 5:30 pm. Topics covered include rhythm, songs, videos, movement, etc. Classes are $10 per session or $35 for an entire month. Call at 206-323-7115 or email for more information or to sign up.

Updated Thursday to reflect the revised day of classes for 6-11 year olds and to list additional instructor Stephanie Hughes.

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ROCKiT space is also seeking “creative types with good people skills” to volunteer their time for daily tasks at the space in return for rehearsal time or art space at the ROCKiT facility. Contact Jessie McKenna at 206-323-7115 for more info.

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And if you know about screen printing, ROCKiT space would love to hear from you. From Craigslist:

ROCKiT space on Beacon Hill (a community art and music space) is looking for artists to host/facilitate or co-facilitate a workshop or series of workshops on silkscreening/screen printing. We have some supplies and a neat space to work/teach in. This is a money-making opportunity for someone who can help a group of folks to learn and apply the basics of the silkscreening process.

We already know how to make stencils and tape them to screens and scrape ink across them. We need something a little more in depth than that, someone who can teach photo emulsion techniques etc. You don’t have to be an expert! But good people skills and some moderate to mad silk screen printing skills are a must.

Again, contact Jessie at 206-323-7115 with interest or offers.

Contributions wanted for neighborhood status report

The status of Beacon Hill for the next few months is likely to be something like this -- rainy. Photo by Bridget Christian in the Beacon Hill Blog photo pool on Flickr.
The status of Beacon Hill for the next few months is likely to be something like this -- rainy. Photo by Bridget Christian in the Beacon Hill Blog photo pool on Flickr.
by Frederica Merrell

Beacon Neighbors,

It occurred to me this week we should put together a status report on our neighborhood issues, projects and forums, for Mayor-Elect McGinn. Here is a draft. I came up with a bunch of categories that we could write short summaries on. Some stuff we could pull right off the Blog. Volunteers?

Take a topic and write a short summary as a comment to this blog post. As I see them posted, I will compile into one doc. I will post the results and we can hand it out to our Mayor-Elect at the upcoming forums and also distribute to new council members. If this format works, we could do an annual or biannual report.


DRAFT North Beacon Hill Status Report to Mayor-Elect McGinn November 09

North Beacon is an active and articulate residential community. North Beacon Hill pioneered urban village planning in 1990 (North Beacon Hill Action Plan), before the City initiated the 1998 planning cycle. We are currently working on recommendations for our third neighborhood plan and have numerous other planning documents completed.

Here are the highlights of our areas of focus, projects and forums:

Primary Issues of Concern and Focus 2009 (Summaries below)

  1. Neighborhood planning and urban village investment
  2. Equitable High Speed Internet Access for local businesses and residents
  3. 15th Ave. S Street Project
  4. Public Safety
  5. Stevens Street Utility Poles Remediation
  6. Ongoing outreach to our diverse community
  7. Improving local schools and youth programs

Projects (Summaries below)

  1. Jefferson Park Reconstruction (Implementation by the City with stewardship of the community)
  2. Lander Festival Street (Implementation by the City with stewardship of the community)
  3. Beacon Rockit: Local folks initiating arts and gatherings in a storefront on Beacon Avenue
  4. Beacon Farmers Market: Long desired use for the new festival street
  5. Urban Agriculture Project: Designed for Jefferson Park by local permaculture students.

Continue reading Contributions wanted for neighborhood status report

Volunteers needed for Van Asselt playground work day November 19

Photo of playground fun by GoonSquadSarah.
Photo of playground fun by GoonSquadSarah.
Keyunda Wilson of Van Asselt Elementary writes,

Dear Neighbors, the time has finally arrived! We will begin building our community playground at Van Asselt Elementary (8311 Beacon Ave. S.) on November 19. We are in need of 75 volunteers to help construct, spread wood chips, paint, and various other tasks. If you are available any amount of time on this day and would like to give your support please email me as soon as possible

Van Asselt is now located at the former African-American Academy school site, a bit south of the old Van Asselt site.

SPU wants waste advice

Curbwaste poster from SPU. Click for a larger, readable version.
Curbwaste poster from SPU. Click for a larger, readable version.

From Jenna Franklin, Strategic Communications Advisor with Seattle Public Utilities:

Seattle Public Utilities is looking for a few good candidates to appoint to the Seattle Public Utilities Garbage, Recycling, Yard and Food Waste Community Advisory Committee.

Candidates from all backgrounds are encouraged to apply to become community advisors — committee members advise the utility on how to increase program offerings, reach the Seattle’s recycling goals, and provide better customer education and information.

“We hope the open slots attract a varied group of candidates, committee members reflect on the many issues the utility and its ratepayers face, and that includes a variety of operational, economic, social, environmental, and language issues,” said Program Manager Aurora Mendoza, it’s so important to have a mix of people that can represent the diverse perspectives and concerns of the wider community.

From discussions on utility policies, business strategies and performance goals to conversations centered on operational issues, language translation and environmental justice, the committee spends 6-8 hours a month examining the utility’s ability to deliver services that meet the needs of Seattle and the people who live here.

Committee member should have interest in conservation or environmental issues, waste reduction, community outreach, utility operations, or public affairs. To apply, please fill out a Citizen Advisory application online at For additional information about participating contact Aurora Mendoza, Program Manager, at (206) 733-9687

In addition to providing a reliable water supply to more than 1.3 million customers in the Seattle metropolitan area, SPU provides essential sewer, drainage, solid waste and engineering services that safeguard public health, maintain the city’s infrastructure and protect, conserve and enhance the region’s environmental resources.

Beacon Bits, briefly: volunteer armies, bagpipes back, and board membership

Adding to the fleet of SPU students in the neighborhood volunteering today is an army of 400 Seattle U. freshmen working in the Cheasty Greenspace with EarthCorps.

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This missing bagpipes have been found! Somebody tossed them in a trash bin, but they were found before it was emptied.

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Denise Louie Education Center is looking for a board member.