More than 750 Bellevue community members gathered at the Meydenbauer Center on Thursday, March 30th to raise funds for local children’s charity, Bellevue LifeSpring.
John Stanton, chairman of Seattle Mariners and a lifelong Bellevue resident, helped the luncheon raise a record $462,285 for programs that feed, clothe and educate children living in poverty in Bellevue.
Featured speaker Stanton spoke to the message of the event, the ability to help over 3,700 children living in poverty in Bellevue to achieve their full potential. Stanton grew up in Bellevue, graduating from Newport High School, and he went on to become a pioneer in the wireless industry. His speech gave a history of baseball in Seattle and the many intersection points with Bellevue LifeSpring and his own life along the way. Stanton’s parents moved the family to Bellevue from Seattle in 1959 because of the quality of the school district. Through high school, he watched the families of his friends struggle when they lost jobs at Boeing and he remembered delivering food baskets to help families in need.
“Overlake Service League (now Bellevue LifeSpring) had a fundamental role in helping families who were struggling,” Stanton said. “I’ve led a charmed life and much of it is because I grew up in Bellevue and went to schools in the Bellevue School District.”
Guest speaker Dr. Tim Mills, Bellevue School District superintendent, gave an update on the success the school district has seen during his tenure as superintendent. Then he shared the story behind the story. He reported one in five children in the school district is living in poverty and over 200 students are homeless. Low-income children face a 26 percent achievement gap in reading and a 34 percent achievement gap in math. Mills praised the work of Bellevue LifeSpring in addressing the needs of these children with programs like Breaktime-Mealtime, which provides kids living in poverty with food during school breaks. Additionally, Bellevue LifeSpring is supporting the district’s goal of a 100 percent graduation rate by offering scholarships for students to attend summer school and retrieve credits necessary for graduation.
Joseph Brazen, president and chair of the board of Bellevue LifeSpring, kicked off the event with the announcement that the organization will combine its administrative offices with its Thrift Shop and move to the top floor of Bellevue Square. Kemper Freeman and his family received a standing ovation from the audience for their support of Bellevue LifeSpring, including their history of commitment to only charge the Thrift Shop $1 per year for rent so all profits can go directly to programs.
Bellevue LifeSpring has worked closely with the community since it began in 1911 as Overlake Service League.
The organization is supported by hundreds of
local residents, community partners and corporate sponsors in its mission to
foster stability and self-sufficiency for Bellevue’s children and their families
through programs that feed, clothe and educate.