“Kindness Begets Kindness” – Coming Together for Those in Need

If you’ve walked through downtown Seattle recently, or actually any neighboring city or suburb, you’ve probably passed by someone in need and thought, “How can I help? How can I make a difference?”

2016’s Employee of the Year, Arthur Valenzuela. When given the chance, Arthur’s career trajectory “took off like a rocket.”

While the issues of homelessness and poverty are complex and require many interventions to solve, it is simpler than you may think to be part of the solution. With so many organizations in our region working to uplift those facing serious challenges, businesses, community organizations and people like you are coming together to support each other in lifting up those in need.

Our Chef Showcase & Employment Excellence Awards event gives our supporters – people like you, local businesses and more – the opportunity to come together to celebrate the collective successes within the Millionair Club Charity community. We get to honor one of our exemplary workers, an employer that helps create opportunity for workers, and a community partner whose support is invaluable to rebuilding lives, one job at a time.

Thank you to Harborstone Credit Union for sponsoring the 2017 Chef Showcase & Employment Excellence Awards!

We couldn’t put on this event without even more support from our community. We’re grateful to have groups like Harborstone Credit Union making the 4th Annual Chef Showcase & Employment Excellence Awards a possibility.

“Harborstone Credit Union appreciates the great work the Millionair Club does for our diverse community,” said Mark Minickiello, Harborstone’s Vice President of Community Development. “We’re also fortunate to have one of our team members, Mike Paul [MCC board member], so deeply engaged in the organization’s volunteer activities to support those in need of a helping hand.”

This year we are also proud to partner with Michelle Esteban, anchor and reporter for KOMO 4 News, who will serve as the emcee/host for the event.

Michelle Esteban, Anchor & Reporter for KOMO 4 News, will be the host/emcee for the evening.

“We often see problems around us and say, someone should do something about that,” Michelle said. “I’m thrilled to partner with the Millionair Club Charity, a team who isn’t saying someone should do something, they’re actually doing it. Kindness begets kindness.”

Attending the Chef Showcase & Employment Excellence Awards is guaranteed to be an enjoyable, tasty and uplifting evening. But more importantly, your attendance means you are supporting efforts to help those facing barriers to employment get job ready and on the path to self-sufficiency.

Be part of the unique jobs-first approach to homelessness – get your tickets today and enjoy food from Huxley Wallace Collective, Ezell’s Famous Chicken, Ethan Stowell Restaurants and Sweet Iron Waffles, along with expert wine pairings from Alexandria Nicole Cellars and delicious desserts from Seattle Sorbets. We hope to see you there!

Sorbets & Shared Values: Making the World a Friendlier Place

Workers who come to MCC have many goals – some just need a job quickly to supplement their income so they don’t lose their home, others are looking to build their soft skills to succeed at any job they work, and some individuals simply need a hot meal and a shower. Your support can help reduce barriers to workers trying to meet their goals by providing access to essentials support services.

While workers face barriers and challenges, it is important to celebrate their accomplishments, which is why we host the annual Chef Showcase & Employment Excellence Awards. We want you, our community of supporters around MCC to join us in honoring the successes of our workers, along with the significant efforts and contributions made by our employers and community partners.

Hosting this event would not be possible without the support of local businesses like Seattle Sorbets, who have been involved in this event since it began four years ago. Claiborne Bell, Seattle Sorbets’ VP of Operations and Marketing, is involved not only with Chef Showcase, but is also on our Kitchen Task Force.

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Claiborne Bell of Seattle Sorbets with his mother, Belinda, at last year’s Chef Showcase & Employment Excellence Awards

“We have a great family run business here at Seattle Sorbets and it’s really important to all of us to give back to the community that has supported us,” Claiborne said. “We believe that helping people is our responsibility and that doing our part to leave this word better than we found it makes us better people.”

Attending Chef Showcase means getting to enjoy delicious desserts from partners like Seattle Sorbets, unique small plates from Ethan Stowell Restaurants, Huxley Wallace Collective, Sweet Iron Waffle Bar and Ezell’s Famous Chicken. You even get expert wine pairings from Alexandria Nicole Cellars!

“The Chef Showcase is a great way for us to give back to our community, meet people who enjoy our sorbets, and network in the food industry with the other chefs,” Claiborne said. “We are honored to be invited back and we look forward to it every year.”

The food, wine and desserts are certainly a treat, but that’s not the best part: attending the Chef Showcase & Employment Excellence Awards means supporting our workers in reducing barriers to their long-term goals, helping them on the path to success and bettering the greater community.

“This world can be an unfriendly place at times but if we all can do a little bit to help make it a little easier on someone going through a tough time then that’s what we should do,” Claiborne said. “Millionair Club Charity shares these values and that is why we work with them, they work diligently to elevate people and restore their hope for a better future.”

Get your tickets today to the 4th Annual Chef Showcase & Employment Excellence Awards and help make a difference for those in need in our region. This event is generously supported by Servco Foundation, Harborstone Credit Union, Pacific Continental Bank and the Schuster Foundation.

Why are eyeglasses so important?

Yelena (right) and Donovan have both received glasses from our Vision Clinic.

If you can’t read the words on a job application – it’s difficult to get on a path to success. Thanks to the hard work and support of volunteers, donors and Walman Optical, we are able to run a Vision Clinic at Millionair Club Charity (MCC) that not only offers free exams, but also free eyeglasses for our workers and anyone in need. We are the only permanent clinic that offers free glasses to those in need in the Seattle area.

“Each week I get to see a lot of happy and appreciative people come in, get their eyes checked, and pick out frames,” said Lauren Kubik, who helps coordinate MCC’s client services. “Working in the Vision Clinic is my favorite part of my job.”

Many people who live in poverty or experiencing homelessness can get free eye exams, but it is very difficult to pay for or find affordable glasses. At our Vision Clinic, anyone in need can make an appointment and gets to pick something personal that fits their needs or style. We get the privilege of seeing our clients’ reactions when they see the beautiful selection of frames.

Volunteers Jackie & Redick near our collection of frames we have available.

“For some people, this is the first time they have ever had their eyes checked,” Lauren said. “It feels good to be a part of something that really impacts peoples’ day to day lives.”

For the past 26 years, MCC’s Vision Clinic opens once a week from September through June. Over the last year, we provided 570 people with free prescription frames, serving 90 more people than we served in the prior year.

Know someone in need of glasses or vision care? Call 206-728-5627 to set up an appointment when our clinic reopens in September.

Making the Vision Clinic possible are more than 35 volunteers, which include opticians, optometrists and others who dedicate their time each week to making things run smoothly.

Thank you to all who support our Vision Clinic and make it possible! You too can help our community get on the path to rebuilding lives – learn about ways to give to our programs.

Get Your Tickets Now: Have Fun & Make a Difference!

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Join us in celebrating employer, employee and community partner of the year at our 4th annual Chef Showcase and Employment Excellence Awards! Enjoy small bites from your favorite local Seattle restaurants, along with expert wine pairings from Alexandria Nicole Cellars. Have fun while supporting MCC’s employment program and those who help us rebuild lives, one job at a time. Confirmed participants include Seattle Sorbets, Ethan Stowell Restaurants and Huxley Wallace Collective – stay tuned as we add more!

  • Where: 415 Westlake in South Lake Union
  • When: Thursday, September 28, 2017 from 6-8 p.m.

Last year you helped us raise almost $25,000 to support our employment program – we hope you’ll join us for an evening of celebration and great food.

Register Today

There will be tickets available for purchase for a drawing to win wine, passes to the Museum of Pop Culture and a gift certificate to Alair Neighborhood Gift Shop!

This event is generously supported by Servco Foundation, Harborstone Credit Union and Pacific Continental Bank.

Shining a Light on #SeaHomeless

Everyone wants to know how they can be part of the solution, part of the fight to end the issue of individuals experiencing homelessness. Thanks to the effort of local media organizations, today many will be posting on social media using #SeaHomeless. This year, the “media blitz” on homelessness will focus on solutions to one of the most pressing issues our region is facing, according to an article by Greg Hanscom, Editor in Chief of Crosscut.

At Millionair Club Charity, we believe we can help rebuild lives through jobs. But we know that many of our workers face a variety of barriers to being successful at temporary or permanent employment. How many of us could focus on our daily tasks if we didn’t know where we were sleeping that evening? Or when we’d get to shower next?

That’s why our efforts are called a supportive employment program. Our relationship with our workers doesn’t end when someone gets hired on full-time outside of our program, many of them still live in our transitional housing, Kasota Apartments, or receive meals or take showers at our building. We want to make sure our workers, of which around 70 percent are homeless or unsheltered*, are getting the support they need to be successful in getting a job and keeping that job, so that they can work toward getting housing and rebuilding their lives overall.

We’re looking forward to following the #SeaHomeless conversation and hearing the stories that come from our region’s problem solvers, as well as those impacted by homelessness. We hope you’ll follow along and join in the conversation as well.

*This data is based on self-reporting from workers being onboarded to our employment program. It includes those who are sleeping on the streets, in encampments and shelters.

20 Years of Service – Head Chef Terry

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We’d like to take a moment to honor someone who is a vital part of our Millionair Club Charity community – Chef Terry. Chef Terry has served more than 2 million meals not just to MCC workers, but to anyone in our community in need of a tasty, nutritious meal.

Those who have interacted and worked with Terry know that he is the epitome of dependability, and his meals are always of the highest quality. Anyone who has had the opportunity to taste his food – especially his holiday turkey lunches – he is great at what he does and we are so grateful for his many years of service to our community.

“Chef Terry is amazing to work with, not only with his wonderful meals but with training hundreds of people to be job ready in the food industry!” said Brent Herrmann, Director of Food Programs.

To honor Chef Terry, he was presented with a custom chef’s coat that indicates his longstanding commitment to providing delicious and wholesome food to our community. On behalf of all MCC staff and the thousands of people whose lives you have touched, thank you Chef Terry for your decades of service!

Chef Terry holding his new custom chef's coat highlighting his 20 years of service, with Director of Food Programs Brent Herrmann (right).

Chef Terry holding his new custom chef’s coat highlighting his 20 years of service, with Director of Food Programs Brent Herrmann (right).

MCC staff with Chef Terry during the celebration of his 20 year anniversary.

MCC staff with Chef Terry during the celebration of his 20 year anniversary.

New Training & Outreach Specialist Will Support Labor Standards Education

Picture of Evelyn OjwangThanks to a grant from the City of Seattle Office of Labor Standards, Millionair Club has added a part-time Training & Outreach Specialist, Evelyn Ojwang, to help support our workers on their path to permanent employment. We asked Evelyn to answer a few questions about what this role will do and how it fits in with our mission – plus, a little bit about herself!

We’re excited to have you on the team at MCC! Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background.
I’m from Seattle! I grew up in West Seattle mainly and I am a proud alumna from Washington State University so you already know one of my favorite animals – go Cougs! I often get hang-ups about the rain even though it is a part of the very fabric of Seattle, but I love Seattle summers. I’m hoping we get more than a month of heat this summer season; fingers crossed! As for some of my hobbies, other than spending time with friends and family, I enjoy the arts, and that can vary from a trip to the Seattle Art Museum, catching a live concert at KeyArena, and occasionally going to Alki Beach when the weather is nice.

What do you want people to know about our MCC community?
The MCC community is about rebuilding the dignity of our workers and supporting their needs. Our workers come from a wide variety of backgrounds with very diverse life experiences and I really enjoy getting to know each one of them. From the STEP graduation ceremonies on Fridays, to the impromptu chats with workers joking around with staff, at MCC, everyone here is a face to remember. We work with them each step of the way as they strive to overcome their circumstances. We strive to change lives, we meet our workers where they are and we attend to their needs until their personal goals, as well as our mission, are met.

Tell us about your work and how it fits in with MCC’s employment programs.
I will be serving our community by providing education, training and outreach through activities, events, resources, referrals and other support needed to help workers understand and advocate for their rights. Workshops will be conducted on Wage Theft, Secure Scheduling, Fair Chance Employment and Hotel Employee Health and Safety.

Since I am also responsible for outreach, many of these workshops will be open to other community members not currently enrolled in MCC’s employment program.

These workshops are integrated into MCC’s STEP Program to make sure the Labor Standards requirements are met and also the Millionair Club mission and goals are accomplished. I also help workers with technical assistance in our computer lab, since we offer resources and permits related to job readiness and placement.

What I hope to do is help further motivate our hardworking community members about their rights, while responding to their unique employment and other service needs.

Why is educating our workers about Labor Standards important and how does it fit in to their pathway to permanent employment?
Educating our workers about Labor Standards is important because the demographic of people we serve are disproportionately affected by these issues and also suffer from homelessness and/or face barriers to employment. For example, the Fair Chance Employment Ordinance is a Labor Standard that applies to people with criminal records which impacts some of our worker population. They need to be aware of their rights given their situations. Another reason why Labor Standards education is vital is because our workers, and temporary workers in general, are more at risk for wage theft and other abuses, and may not be served well by conventional news sources relaying information about labor laws. As our workers transition into permanent employment they will be aware of their rights and confident in asserting them and reporting any violations as needed.

What made you want to pursue this work?
Seattle is a unique city. It’s awesome that the city has the jurisdiction to enforce laws that are separate from the state level that provide enhanced support for historically marginalized communities. I’m aware of the issues that minorities face being a minority myself, and I am passionate about service and the socioeconomic challenges that under-served communities in Seattle face. I believe it starts with rebuilding the self confidence and dignity of people that fall under that umbrella. Knowing one’s rights is a great start to rebuilding the lives of our workers, one job at a time.

Introducing the Next STEP for our MCC Employment Program

Each year the Millionair Club Charity’s employment program helps over 1,000 men and women who are homeless or living in poverty become job ready and connect to employment opportunities. To enhance job readiness, the Millionair Club Charity (MCC) offers a variety of free services to meet the specific needs of people living at low income levels or on the streets. Services to facilitate job readiness include:

  • Meals
  • Showers
  • Laundry
  • Storage Lockers
  • Work Clothes
  • Computer Access
  • And so much more

Once individuals feel ready to work, they can access jobs through our temporary staffing agency, a supportive employment program that is utilized  by over 1,000 employers in the greater Seattle area. In 2016 MCC workers were employed on 15,000 days of work, meeting the staffing needs of our diverse employer base. The ultimate goal is for the MCC worker to find a permanent job with a living wage. In 2016, 232 men and women achieved this goal.

In January 2017, the MCC identified the need to motivate workers in the employment program to obtain additional training that would make them more successful at finding and keeping permanent jobs. This new program is called STEP- Strategy, Training, Employment, and Performance. The STEP program has a four level structure, with each level bringing enhanced status for workers within our employment program hierarchy. STEP uses incentives to motivate workers to attend workshops on a variety of topics designed to enhance their job search and on-the-job performance.

From Bronze to Platinum, each STEP level increases job readiness to improve our clients long term job goals, from a simple safety training in the MCC’s computer lab, all the way to opening up a bank account with the help of MCC staff. Eddie, pictured below, comes to the MCC every morning and gets great feedback from employers. He has now graduated into the Gold level of STEP. Congrats Eddie.

SONY DSCTo date, 17 clients have achieved the Silver level, 12 have achieved Gold, and 3 have accomplished the Platinum level. In all, our MCC job seekers have attended STEP workshops on 158 occasions. 

The MCC staff reports that employers are more eager to hire workers that have achieved levels of competence through trainings, and have earned designations that show those achievements. The MCC staff looks forward to reporting more on STEP, and its impact on permanent employment and job retention success at the end of 2017!

You can benefit a worker like Eddie by hiring through our MCC staffing service, or by donating to help our workers increase job readiness through MCC support services.

The Millionair Club Charity’s supportive employment program is a social enterprise that is a proud subgrantee of the Social Innovation Fund (SIF) and a member of the REDF portfolio. 

THANK YOU SUPPORTERS – You Contribute to the “Jobs First” Solution to Homelessness for Folks like Reggie

Today on “Giving Tuesday,” all of us a the Millionair Club Charity want to give thanks to our donors, volunteers, and community partners, who help our “jobs first” solution to homelessness stabilize and rebuild the lives of hundreds of men and women each year. Reggie, pictured below, is just one of the 854 people who received services through the MCC’s supportive employment program last year. THANK YOU SUPPORTERS – without you, success stories like Reggie’s would not be possible.

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Reggie @ the MCC

Reggie’s Message

“If you’re a homeless person, and able-bodied, I don’t know why you don’t get down here to the MCC. I can come in here and take a shower, wash clothes.  I can eat.  This place is like, the hand that pulled me up, and made sure that once I was standing, that I had everything I needed to stay up. They got you.  They got you.”

Reggie’s Story

Reggie became homeless after Hurricane Katrina in 2009. Since that time, he and his family relocated from state to state, hoping that eventually they would find a place that provided a living and felt like home.

Unfortunately for Reggie, his travels never brought him to a place of stability. In April of 2016, he came to Seattle, with just a suitcase. “When I came to Seattle, I had lost everything, literally everything.  I was living on the street and had no resources.  It was the first time I really, really needed help as an adult person.  And I kept thinking, what is it going to take to get me back on my feet?” 

Reggie found a place to sleep in a mission, so that solved that problem. But what Reggie really wanted to do, was find a job.  He was told to try the Millionair Club Charity.

“I didn’t have the clothes or shoes to work at a proper job. Miss Olivia and Miss Lily at the MCC helped me so much.  I mean, they didn’t know me from a can of beans, but they just helped me.  It’s not just a job to them – here it’s personal.  And there’s a whole team that shows up for me.”

With his work clothes and Food Handler’s card provided by the MCC, Reggie went to work at Century Link stadium. He tried different kinds of jobs – cleaning streets for the Metropolitan Improvement District, and light industrial work at iClick Industries – then found a permanent job as a kitchen manager at the Underground Tour office.  But there were still some things that were holding Reggie back from success.

“Living at the mission, I had to carry around my bags with me all day. I was so embarrassed to have to bring my bags to work.  But there were all these lockers lining the walls at the MCC.  I said, who are they for?  They said, they’re for workers like you. This doesn’t sound like a big thing, but considering the situation I was in, it was gigantic.”

Reggie also remembers that it was really hard to work six days a week while sleeping at the mission. The MCC’s employment program told Reggie he could move in to the rooms at the Kasota apartments, but Reggie worried that he didn’t have enough money saved to pay a deposit on the rent. Then he was told that the first month’s rent would be taken care of by the MCC.  “My room might be small.  I might be able to sit in the middle and touch both walls of my apartment with my hands outstretched.  But these are MY walls.  Being in my own room is like removing an elephant that was jumping on me every time I tried to get up.  I feel normal here.  I feel like a normal person.  When Angele gave me that key to my room, I was like WOW, these are my walls.”

 

 

 

A Time to Celebrate: Holiday Lunches at the Millionair Club Charity

A Time of Celebration:  Holiday Lunches.  November 23 & 24, 2016;                             December 23, 2016; 12:noon to 1:30 pm

 “The Thanksgiving and Christmas lunches are something special,” smiles Brent Hermann, who has coordinated the meals program at the Millionair Club Charity for over 15 years. “We have two lunches where we have a holiday meal with ‘all the trimmings’:  Thanksgiving Eve and Thanksgiving.”

SONY DSC “Community Volunteers set the tables with tablecloths and decorations, and folks have a chance to sit down and be served turkey lunch, followed by pie,” continues Brent. “We want it to be a time of relaxation and rejuvenation over a hot delicious meal.”

 Thanksgiving morning kicks off when 80 volunteers from Full Life Ministry arrive, to package up thanksgiving lunches that are delivered to home-bound seniors.  Each meal is thoughtfully put together with a handmade card and placement from local school children.  The presentation includes a flower with every meal.”

SONY DSC Community Volunteers take the holiday packages to home-bound seniors, and sit with them, so they have company on the holiday.

The line starts forming outside the Millionair Club Charity building early for holiday lunch. Volunteers go outside and bring warm coffee.  They’re looking forward to a meal with “all the trimmings”:  turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, green beans, a roll, and a BIG piece of pie.

SONY DSC Over 800 holiday lunches will be served at the three holiday meals. Volunteers serve meals “restaurant style”, with our diners able to sit down, relax, and have dinner and pie brought to them.  It’s a joyous time for our staff, as many of our regular clients bring young children and friends to share the joys of the day.

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 The Meals Program at the Millionair Club Charity serves over 97,000 hot nutritious breakfasts and lunches, Monday through Friday, throughout the year. It is just one service of the supportive employment program at the Millionair Club Charity, that assists men and women who are homeless or have little or no resources, to get the services they need to become job ready and connect with employment opportunity. Services s include a shower, laundry, job training, licensing, work clothes, free prescription eye glasses and access to housing.

The Millionair Club Charity has been rebuilding lives through jobs and supportive services in its Belltown location since 1921. Find out more at millionairclub.org.