The Millionair Club Charity brings urban farming to Seattle

The Millionair Club Charity's Hydroponic Demonstration Garden.

The Millionair Club Charity’s Hydroponic Demonstration Garden.

In keeping with our mission of rebuilding the lives of men and women experiencing unemployment and homelessness in our community, we are proud to announce the launch of an Urban Farming Initiative to build Seattle’s first commercial hydroponic farms.

The program will provide fresh produce for local sale, as well as supply homeless individuals and families with donated fresh produce and create job training and employment opportunities in urban farming to participants in the organization’s jobs program.

In November we finished building our first 250-square-foot garden in the basement of the Millionair Club Charity. This fully operational hydroponic urban farm doesn’t need large tracks of land to grow quality crops. The garden right now grows salad greens using energy efficient LED grow lights and nutrient-rich water. We can grow about 800 plants per month, which can produce 1,600 bowls of salad per month or 19,200 bowls annually.

“Launching an urban farming program is an opportunity for the Millionair Club Charity to help address community need for year-round, fresh and local produce, while delivering on our mission to provide new employment and job training opportunities for people experiencing unemployment in this region,” said Jim Miller, executive director of the Millionair Club Charity.

We’ve partnered with UrbanHarvest, a Seattle-based for-profit urban farming business, to launch this program. The salad greens we produce will be served in our meals program, donated to partner nonprofit organizations and sold to local restaurants and businesses.

Tutta Bella Neapolitan Pizzeria has signed on as the program’s first customer.

DSC_0454

DSC_0458

DSC_0465

“This program is another opportunity to help support the work that the Millionair Club Charity is doing on a daily basis to help hundreds of individuals who are homeless or unemployed in Seattle,” said Joe Fugere, owner of Tutta Bella Neapolitan Pizzeria. “And, we’re going to be serving fresh hyper-local produce grown just blocks away from the Westlake restaurant. It simply makes sense.”

Currently, we are growing butter lettuce, red oak leaf lettuce, green leaf lettuce and bok choy (Chinese cabbage). Ten percent of what we grow will be donated to programs that feed homeless individuals and families, including our own meals program that fuel our workers.

A hydroponic garden is great for the environment because it grows its plants more efficiently than traditional farmland. It uses nutrient-rich water instead of soil, uses as little as one-fortieth of the space of a traditional land farm and one-tenth of the amount of water.

“By growing and selling our produce within the Seattle urban area, our fresh greens will travel very short distances from farm to consumer, resulting in reduced transportation costs and lower CO2 emissions,” said Chris Bajuk, Millionair Club Charity Urban Farming Program Manager and founder of UrbanHarvest. “Our goal with this program is to create a new industry in Seattle around urban farming.”

Early visitors of the hydroponic garden have been impressed with what they’ve seen so far.

“I really enjoyed visiting the Millionair Club Charity’s new hydroponics project,” said Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles. “In fact, I am so impressed with the vision, significance and potential for it that I returned for a second visit. I’m also working to get funding included in the state capital budget as it brings so much into one project—urban farming, meals program and job development.”

In addition to urban farming, the Millionair Club Charity is launching other social enterprise programs in 2014 to provide larger pools of employment for unemployed men and women in the region. A janitorial service began in January.

DSC_0450

Our 2013 Accomplishments

92,000 meals is enough to feed sold out crowds at both CenturyLink Field and Key Arena combined!

92,000 meals is enough to feed sold out crowds at both CenturyLink Field and Key Arena combined!

Since 1921 the Millionair Club Charity has helped rebuild lives by restoring dignity and self-reliance to unemployed men and women in the greater Seattle area.

2013 was a great year for us. We made great strides in boosting our presence in the Seattle community while launching and developing new programs to better serve our participants.

Here are some accomplishments we made in 2013 thanks to our donors and supporters:

Jobs

We helped place 89 eager workers into permanent full-time or long-term temporary employment, which is an 85 percent increase from last year! It is estimated to cost the community up to $50,000 per homeless individual to provide shelter, medical and dental care and, unfortunately, sometimes resources through the criminal justice system. This means we are saving the community up to $4.45 million annually because of these placements. Additionally, these men and women are now contributing back to the local economy every time they purchase goods and services and pay taxes.

11,764 total daily work assignments were dispatched to more than 400 workers last year.

More than 3,900 employers, including homeowners and local businesses, hired our workers.

Housing and shelter

We helped 65 of our workers secure permanent or transitional housing or prevent eviction through our Housing Assistance Program. Of those, 9 were military veterans.

About 29,200 beds annually are provided in our secure building (about 80 people every night) through our collaboration with Compass Housing Alliance and Operation Nightwatch to give emergency shelter to those lacking a place to sleep.

Meals

92,064 hot, nutritious meals were served to people seeking sustenance.

Eye Care

We provided 314 individuals with glasses and eye exams to help prepare them for the workforce.

Other wrap-around support services

We served 497 people through our continuum of care wrap-around services; which include dental and vision care, AA meetings, English as a Second Language classes, smoking cessation and referrals to services with regards to domestic violence, disabilities, preventive medical treatment, mental health and substance abuse.

About 100 individuals every month took showers or used our laundry services. This adds up to more than4,025 total showers and loads of laundry for our workers.

Our Food Pantry and Clothing Closet were visited 423 times by our participants.

Volunteers

659 volunteers gave their time in service of the Millionair Club Charity, totaling nearly 2,272 hours of service.

Fundraising and success stories

We held a series of exciting new fundraising events that brought our organization before a wider audience. Celebrity Waiters Luncheon, Larry Kaminer’s daring Jump for Jobs campaign, Chef Showcase and the 2013 Giving Campaign increased the Millionair Club Charity’s capacity to rebuild lives in the greater Seattle area.

We also had many success stories of hardworking people who have benefitted from our Employment Program. Read about Kenn and Danny and watch this video about Donald and Derrick so you can learn more about their stories.

92,000 Meals Served in 2013

Thank you Seattle City Light for being one of our most faithful Meals Program volunteer groups!

Thank you Seattle City Light for being one of our most faithful Meals Program volunteer groups!

Did you know in 2013 we served more than 92,000 hot meals? That’s enough to feed sold out crowds at both CenturyLink Field and Key Arena combined!

The Millionair Club Charity serves breakfast and lunch Monday through Friday to anyone who walks through our doors. That includes our workers who are prepared to go on a job and everyone in our community who seeks a hot, nutritious meal.

Thank you staff, volunteers and community partners who help fuel our workers for the day and feed hungry men and women in our neighborhood.

An example of what we serve for lunch at the Millionair Club Charity.

An example of what we serve for lunch at the Millionair Club Charity.

USDA Non-Discrimination Statement

USDA Non-Discrimination Statement Spanish