Valley community feasts for Hope


Snohomish County nonprofit Housing Hope has worked for 28 years to alleviate homelessness in Snohomish County. Last week, residents from Monroe and surrounding communities showed up in full force to help ensure its work will continue.

The third annual Evening at Adam's fundraiser took place at 6 p.m. Monday, Aug. 8, at Adam's Northwest Bistro and Brewery in Monroe. Hosted by Chef Adam Hoffman, guests enjoyed a custom four-course meal with wine pairings. Hoffman and his staff volunteered their time to support the event, which welcomed 56 guests and raised more than $11,000 for Housing Hope.

All proceeds raised during the event will be used to support programs in east Snohomish County.

"Every year, we are amazed by the generosity of East County, and this year is no exception,GÇ¥ said Housing Hope CEO Fred Safstrom in a news release. "From Adam and his staff donating their time, to the guests who made this evening a success, Monroe is a community that is serious about solving homelessness and poverty.GÇ¥

Safstrom gave attendees a brief glimpse into the history of Housing Hope, from its origins 28 years ago to what it has become today. Initially, solving the problem of homelessness was the organization's primary objective, but what it learned in doing so is that homelessness is a complex, multifaceted issue. Housing Hope leaders decided to broaden the nonprofit's approach, Safstrom said, to accommodate the needs of the families they were seeking to help.

Homeless families with children were so focused on trying to provide shelter for their families, he said, they didn't have time to deal with the issues that led to their homelessness in the first place.

So they created Tomorrow's Hope Child Development Center, originally known as Tomorrow's Hope Child Care Center. Located at the main Housing Hope complex in Everett, Tomorrow's Hope offers robust programming aimed at helping children of homeless and low-income families become school-ready.

"This program has become central to our strategy of breaking the cycle of poverty. These kids are our future, and if we're going to break the cycle of poverty, it really begins with these kids,GÇ¥ Safstrom said. "I can tell you we are making a tremendous difference.GÇ¥

Over the years, the organization celebrated its successes, but then they had to reevaluate, Safstrom said. Housing Hope families were still relying on public assistance, he said, and so it became time to really look at what they were doing to solve the issue of poverty.

"We faced the hard reality that solving homelessness is a wonderful thing, but it's not enough,GÇ¥ Safstrom said. "We have to solve the problem of poverty, and that involves education and it involves job training.GÇ¥

In January 2011, they launched HopeWorks, a Housing Hope subsidiary designed to help families gain the skills and training necessary to obtain a living wage job. HopeWorks owns and operates three businesses, which enables it to provide hands-on experienced-based training and paid internship opportunities. It's a key program, Safstrom said, and it's working.

"I can tell you that we are having tremendous success with families that are solving poverty,GÇ¥ Safstrom said. "They are getting off of all public assistance and their children are thriving, so that is an absolutely fantastic result.GÇ¥

Housing Hope's College of Hope program works in concert with programs like HopeWorks and Tomorrow's Hope. College of Hope offers life-skills classes for Housing Hope residents, including instruction on family life, economic well-being, health and wellness and housing expertise. The program rounds out Housing Hope's vision of providing a continuum of services designed to steer residents toward self-sufficiency.

Safstrom gave an update on the Monroe Family Village, a new 47-unit Housing Hope community that opened in Monroe last year. They are seeing spectacular success stories, he said. The facility offers a weekly support group for families involved in Child Protective Services,cooking classes, two community gardens and more. Families are transforming their lives through jobs and continuing education, he said.

The beauty of it, he said, is that they have overcome great challenges and are managing to successfully live normal lives.

"These are homeless households that are living a normal life, and these kids are living a normal life,GÇ¥ Safstrom said. "This is inspiring.GÇ¥

Housing Hope East County Board President Chris Gray thanked guests for their generosity and support, as well as the city of Monroe and Mayor Geoffrey Thomas for assisting Housing Hope's efforts to alleviate homelessness in east Snohomish County.

"East County is such a special community,GÇ¥ Gray said. "We work together, we support each other, and when it comes to issues like homelessness and poverty, we all pitch in to help our neighbors in need.GÇ¥

For more information on Housing Hope, visit

Photo by Chris Hendrickson Chef Adam Hoffman takes a quick break from his eveningGÇÖs work to thank his guests for their generosity in supporting Housing Hope.


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