Dusty Strings SING!: Sing-alongs to benefit Solid Ground

Kate Power & Steve Einhorn

Kate Power & Steve Einhorn

When was the last time you participated in a sing-along? Around a campfire? At a service? With your child? With friends? With strangers? Was it an uplifting, collective experience? Or awkward and embarrassing? Lastly, was it for a good cause?

The reason I ask these questions is because I bet 80% of you cannot remember the last time you participated in an informal group singing session. For one full hour. With a bunch of people you don’t know. That was free. But that also asked for donations to help those who need it most: those living in poverty.

The Dusty Strings SING! is an hour-long sing-along open to the public every Wednesday from 12pm-1pm at the Dusty Strings music store located in the Center of the Universe (also known as Fremont, Seattle). The SING is open to the public, all voices are welcome and it is free. However, donations in any denomination are encouraged, all proceeds benefitting Solid Ground.

Kate Power, Music School Director at Dusty Strings and Steve Einhorn, Musical Instructor at the Dusty Strings Music School, who host the SING every week, brought the idea of the Dusty Strings SING! in 2013. However, this is not the original site of their community singing endeavors.

In 1994, Steve and Kate bought Artichoke Music, then a store in Portland, Oregon that sold musical instruments. Inspired by the musical social justice movements of Pete Seeger, they decided to hold events to raise funds to donate to the Sisters of the Road, an agency and café in Portland that provides meals and services for people experiencing homelessness.

“One Pete Seeger concert would teach you a lot about social justice through song,” says Steve. “We were both raised in that generation of songwriters, like Bob Dylan and Peter Paul & Mary, who were singing about civil rights and progressive social issues.” And while those artists contributed to progressive action during their time, Pete really encouraged his audience to sing along and actively participate in what those songs were about. “Seeger was really a great model for ‘we shall overcome’ and [how to] come together with all of those people,” Steve says.

Once they got comfortable in Portland and cultivated some change by connecting with customers on a more private and smaller scale, they wanted to expand that connection to the community. “And we tried to figure out, ‘How can we [give back to the community] in a way that is meaningful?’ ” So they decided to hold concerts every year with a well-known lineup that included a raffle to give away a guitar. They raised $10,000 for every guitar given away, all of which was donated to Sisters of the Road.

Kate says they picked this particular cause “because everyone relates to hunger. Even if you have the money.” She also explains that embracing this type of open format for musical events in a come-as-you-are environment can create meaningful experiences for all participants while giving any afforded proceeds to those who need it most. This being said, it isn’t atypical to hear popular folk singers such as Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Utah Phillips and the like at any given sing-along. However, the floor is completely open and Kate and Steve take requests for all kinds of music. And all ranges of singing abilities, from those who can’t quite carry a tune to professional harmonizing masters (harmonies are openly encouraged), are invited to attend.

I had the good fortune of attending the most recent SING!, and while Kate and Steve hovered five feet in front of us (a group of about 15), adjusting their acoustic guitar straps and tuning the instruments up just right, Kate mentioned to the group that there’s nothing quite like collective singing. While Steve fiddled with the tuning nobs at the top of his guitar, softly strumming each string, she said sometimes it even brings her to tears. “Music is really how we come together,” Kate says. I couldn’t agree more.

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You can find out more about Kate & Steve’s ongoing musical adventures through their website, Quality Folk.

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University Rotary Club’s gift to Solid Ground has the kids jumping with joy

joey jumpsThe Rotary Club of the University District selected Solid Ground to receive a gift in honor of the club’s 75th anniversary. During the club meeting in Dec. 2013, Solid Ground’s Resource Development Director Dean McColgan and Director of Residential Services Dee Hills received the generous $50,000 gift from Marella Alejandrino, University Rotary President.

The gift funded the creation of a playground at Brettler Family Place, projected to open in March 2014, on the Rotary Club’s anniversary month. This partnership and gift will benefit the families of our Sand Point Housing Campus, and will be a step towards helping children overcome the impact of homelessness.

Solid Ground’s President & CEO Gordon McHenry, Jr. stated, “University Rotary truly understands what it means to be a good community partner. This generous gift will go a long way in helping our Sand Point families continue to move beyond the issues they face due to poverty and help them build a better future.”

“Rotary’s motto is Service Above Self,” Alejandrino said. “We seek community partnerships with organizations like Solid Ground that provide vital services to our community. We’re delighted to have chosen a project to bring exercise and joy to the children of the Brettler Family Place.”

This partnership with the University Rotary Club will play a positive role in the lives of Sand Point Campus children, giving them a joyful place to play and grow for years to come!

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Visit the University Rotary Club website for more information about the organization.

Youth Service America gives Penny Harvest a shout out

Contributed by Kathleen Penna, Interim Penny Harvest Program Coordinator

Adams Elementary check presentation to PAWS

Penny Harvest Philanthropy Roundtable members from Adams Elementary School present a check to one of their chosen grantees, PAWS.

On September 26, Youth Service America highlighted youth philanthropic efforts across the country. Solid Ground is excited that they recommend Common Cents Penny Harvest, the largest youth philanthropy program in the country. (Solid Ground operates the Seattle branch of Penny Harvest.) Also in the report: A new study finds that 90% of youth ages eight to 19 participate in philanthropic efforts. We believe that engaging young people in strengthening their communities is a vital part of ending poverty.

Penny Harvest provides young people, their families, and their schools with the tools to take action and create positive social change on the issues they see impacting their communities. To start each year, students collect and gather coins. Student leaders at each school research issues impacting their community, interview organizations working on those issues, and make grants to organizations they see having the greatest impact.

Registration is still open for the 13/14 school year! If you are interested in signing up your school, please register at www.pennyharvest.org/SignUp, or email pennyharvestseattle@solid-ground.org for more information.

Financial empowerment Intensive Learning Cluster update

art by Rainer Waldman Atkins

art by Rainer Waldman Atkins

Last October, Solid Ground entered into a very exciting partnership with the Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED). Solid Ground was selected, along with four other organizations nationally, to participate in an Intensive Learning Cluster allowing us to work on further integrating financial empowerment into the services provided through Solid Ground.

Our goal is strengthening the economic security of the families and individuals we serve, and addressing deep-rooted issues that face households getting by on low incomes in our communities.

This Learning Cluster came to a close in March and we are now charged with keeping the momentum going and using all of the tools and new ideas that were raised throughout the last six months.

The highlights of this experience and some of our lessons learned along the way are featured in a brief published by CFED and posted on the CFED blog.

Pouring on the support

Executive Chef Augi and General Manager Tino in the kitchen

For many years, the Nickerson Street Saloon has come up with creative ways to support Solid Ground. With the support of their suppliers, they have a tasty history of donating a portion of their holiday beer revenues to Solid Ground.

This year is no exception: Through the end of the year, they will donate a portion of the sales of every glass of New Belgium’s Shift Pale Lager to Solid Ground. Stop on by for a fine brew to support a fine cause!

Also, last week Nickerson Street Saloon hosted its second annual Thanksgiving feast for clients of Solid Ground and the FamilyWorks food bank.

“Our involvement with Solid Ground started through Kira Zylstra [who manages Solid Ground’s Homeless Prevention Programs],” explains Chris “Tino” Martino, General Manager.

“She worked for me for a number of years and it was a natural fit. I think our goal as a business has always been to be partner with our community. We have always thought of ourselves as a neighborhood restaurant and part of that includes trying to help out and give something back. Fortunately we have been successful enough to be able to host these types of things and have always had great support from our vendors like Georgetown Brewing, New Belgium Brewery and Columbia Distributing.”

Tino adds, “Our Thanksgiving meal was something we started last year. We had talked about it for a number of years and last year it just sort of came together. Kira pointed me towards Jake Weber at FamilyWorks, and we just went with it. I’m really looking forward to this year. I was really struck by how grateful and thankful all the people we had last year were. I thought it was nice that we were able to serve people in the context of our restaurant; I think our guests enjoyed it. It’s something we plan to continue to do as long as we can.”

Kira volunteered on Thanksgiving, helping to serve the 75 guests. “This wasn’t a buffet: We served our guests and got them what they wanted,” she said. “It was a really welcoming environment.”

“Chris Gerke is the owner of the Nick and he has always been the reason we try to do what we do,” Tino says. “Giving back and trying to leave things better than you found them is something he has always preached and I have embraced as well. In the end, helping to care for each other is something I believe we are all responsible for and a great reminder of how fortunate I have been in my own life. Perspective is always a good thing.”

‘Rebuilding the plane while we fly it’

Boeing Dreamliner in flight

Boeing Dreamliner in flight (photo used by permission of The Boeing Company)

Solid Ground is pleased to announce that we have received a grant of $85,000 from The Boeing Company to support our Strategic Approach to Meeting Community Needs project.

“In an environment of increasing needs and diminishing resources, strategically-driven planning can significantly impact the amount and quality of services,” said Gordon McHenry, Jr., President & CEO of Solid Ground. “This project will enable Solid Ground to more clearly focus resources against critical priorities and establish a framework for continuous assessment and reporting of our performance.”

The end result will be to better serve more people and have a greater impact on their lives.

“Boeing is committed to partnering with organizations that help individuals in our community struggling with poverty and unemployment,” said Gina Breukelman, community investor for Global Corporate Citizenship. “We have a long history of partnering with Solid Ground and are excited about investing in their work to improve internal systems so that they can efficiently and effectively respond to the increased need for their services.”

The Boeing grant builds upon other recent awards of $25,000 from Enterprise Community Partners and $50,000 from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to support aspects of Solid Ground’s strategic planning and program assessment processes.

“A lengthy cycle of growth followed by recent years of economic contraction created some challenges for Solid Ground,” said Sandi Cutler, Solid Ground’s Chief Operating & Strategy Officer, who will oversee the project. “Years of growth created a variety of programs, often with divergent procedures and systems. Solid Ground’s Board of Directors recognized the need to adapt our way of operating in order to meet the new demands facing the organization.”

“This strategic project amounts, in many ways, to rebuilding the plane while we fly it,” McHenry said. “And so, even while we take this strategic step, we continue to provide 60,000 people a year with housing, food and nutrition, counseling, legal aid and other resources to help them escape poverty and thrive.”

“Solid Ground’s effort is consistent with a larger regional effort that is transforming how nonprofits bring a renewed focus on effectively merging vision, leadership and planning into our work,” Cutler said. “The essence of this initiative is the integration of better systems, practices and methods, creating a ‘new normal’ that makes the entire organization more sustainable, and enables us to deliver better services.”

McHenry said, “We must become more effective and more efficient in order to improve the resources and support we provide to those who rely on our services, many of whom have  multiple challenges to self-sufficiency. We are grateful for this partnership with The Boeing Company to support this vital work.”

Memorial statue unveiled

This post is a follow up to our 4/5/12 post, Help honor a local fallen hero. A large number of Solid Ground’s Seattle Personal Transit (SPT) program drivers and passengers are U.S. veterans – and a disproportionate number of homeless adults in King County are vets. SPT ACCESS van driver Dick Clements, a U.S. Army veteran, shared these photos and details about the unveiling of a memorial statue in honor of U.S. Army Spc. Mikayla A. Bragg.

Mikayla Bragg Memorial Statue

Mikayla Bragg Memorial Statue

On Wednesday June 6, 2012, a memorial statue was unveiled in a ceremony in honor of U.S. Army Specialist Mikayla A. Bragg of Longview,WA, who was killed in action on December 21, 2011 in Knowst Province in southern Afghanistan at the age of 21. The statue was placed in an outdoor courtyard next to the History Department at Mark Morris High School in Longview, where Mikayla graduated in 2008.

The statue, called the Battlefield Soldier’s Cross, depicts a pair of boots with a rifle standing on its end, barrel down, with a helmet resting on the butt end of the rifle. Cast in bronze, it has a bronze plaque at its base featuring Mikayla’s picture and service information.

During the unveiling, a replica of a Civil War blanket given to fallen union troops was presented to Mikayla’s family by the Patriot Guard Motorcycle Club. SPT driver Dick Clements reports, “We of the Black Horse Regimental Motorcycle Club inducted Mikayla into the Black Horse honorarily.”

According to veteran Kristopher North, who spearheaded the memorial statue project, “Generations of students will be able to see this memorial on a daily basis and know that not only was this one of our own but, that Freedom isn’t Free.”

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