Bellevue LifeSpring recently held its annual fundraising luncheon, Step Up to the Plate, on March 19 at the Meydenbauer Center.
More than 800 people attended to hear the stories of how Bellevue LifeSpring has changed the lives of local families.
Bellevue LifeSpring’s 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.
Bellevue LifeSpring began in 1911 with three local women helping their neighbors. Today, Bellevue LifeSpring serves more than 15,000 children and families and is run by 95 percent volunteers.
Bellevue LifeSpring’s “wraparound approach” consists of four main programs.
Breaktime-Mealtime ends hunger by distributing Safeway food during school breaks to children enrolled in the federal free and reduced-price lunch program. According to Bellevue School District (BSD) Superintendent Dr. Ivan Duran, more than 18 percent of BSD students qualify for free and reduced meals. In 2018, more than 1,800 students were fed.
Clothes-4-Kids provides children with vouchers for new back-to-school clothes so they can begin their school year confident and ready to learn. More than 500 students were served in 2018. Working with Clothes-4-Kids, Thrift Culture supplies quality new and used clothing, shoes and household goods at affordable prices. Vouchers are given to families who cannot afford to pay. More than 100 families were served in 2018.
In terms of education, Bellevue LifeSpring offers Grads-On-Track, which gives summer school scholarships to high school students, helping them stay on track and graduate with their peers.
In total, 310 classes were funded last year. In addition, educational grants awards four-year scholarships for higher education so students can achieve stability and independence wherever their futures take them. Twenty-six (26) scholarships were awarded to students in 2018.
Duran said with BSD’s new vision statement, he believes Bellevue LifeSpring supports it and helps secure the future for Bellevue students.
Bellevue LifeSpring’s fourth program is emergency assistance. The program works to keep students stable and in their homes by providing food and basic needs, eviction prevention and move-in assistance for families in crisis. The program prevented 49 evictions helped five families move into new homes. However, Duran said there are currently 293 students faced with unstable living conditions.
Meghan (whose last name is withheld) is a local mom of four children. She shared how Bellevue LifeSpring has saved her family from homelessness and hunger.
“We faced the possibility of homelesness for two years. We couldn’t afford to move because there was too much cost… Bellevue LifeSpring paid for our first month’s rent and secured a place for us to live,” she said. “Thank you all for saving us from homelessness.”
While Bellevue LifeSpring has changed the lives of numerous children and families, it isn’t reaching everybody who is eligible.
“We are able to only reach about half of the people who need our services,” said Jennifer Fischer, the executive director for Bellevue LifeSpring.