Building Community Luncheon was ‘bleeping awesome!’

On Friday April 10, Solid Ground had our most profitable Building Community Luncheon ever: We grossed $290,000 – as much revenue as last year, but with 500 fewer people in the room – and our net income was MUCH higher! We think it’s because people really resonated with our theme, If you want to end poverty, work for JUSTICE!, highlighted here in the Luncheon video:

Justice is, of course, both political and personal. As our President & CEO, Gordon McHenry, Jr. told the assembled:

Today, we are here because we are concerned about justice. I remember being concerned about justice as a young boy. It was in the mid-’60s when I was 6 or 7 years old, walking with my family in the small, segregated town of Terrell, Texas, where my mother was born and raised. It was an uneventful stroll until my parents stepped into the street, because there were some white people coming toward us. Even then blacks in the south yielded the sidewalk to whites.

“A few months ago, I was reminded that some troubling aspects of our society haven’t changed in 50 years. It was after Ferguson, and this time I was walking in the streets of Capitol Hill as part of a small but loud protest march. When we approached the East Precinct, our Seattle police surrounded us with a show of force far vastly outnumbering the protesters.

“Mistrust, Anger, Fear, Misunderstanding, and Conflict. We can all recall such powerful feelings. They are the feelings and experiences that come when you realize you are trapped by injustice. Sadly, it’s a near universal experience for people of color in our country.

“And YET there is the transformational experience of being part of powerful actions and mass movements for justice. The thrill of chanting and believing that our very presence will make a difference.

“What do we want? JUSTICE! When do we want it? NOW!

“Whether you marched for an end to the Iraq wars, rallied to demand
$15 Now, joined hands around an old growth tree, OR packed council chambers with angry residents in wheelchairs (something Solid Ground did in the early 80s to help secure the future of ACCESS transportation), most of us have had that experience. You know that feeling of coming together as MORE than a group of people, but as a FORCE for right, a FORCE for justice.”

Kathya Alexander, the Seattle Storyteller, who worked with us on 40th Anniversary activities last year, contributed and performed a riveting story about the civil rights movement. You can read some of her stories on her Seattle Storyteller website.

Grammy Award winning "Thrift Shop" vocalist Wanz singing "I Will"

Wanz wows attendees at Solid Ground’s Building Community Luncheon

And when keynote speaker Jessica Williams of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart had to cancel due to ill health, local Grammy Award-winning singer and Solid Ground supporter Wanz stepped in at the last minute as our surprise guest star. As Gordon mentioned in introducing him, “Talk about making lemonade out of lemons: ‘This is bleeping awesome!’ ” (a reference to Wanz’ signature riff on Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ hit track, Thrift Shop).

Wanz’ inspirational song I Will was a great addition to the program, focusing on the importance of community, especially in troubling times. We encourage you to follow Wanz on social media:

If you were at the event: Thank you for making it such a special occasion! If you missed out but would like to make a gift to make the event even more successful, please go to our online donation page. Thanks!!


The Boeing Company | DCG ONE | HomeStreet Bank | Microsoft | Safeco Insurance


The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation | Marguerite Casey Foundation | Real Change | REI | Seattle Children’s | Sprague Israel Giles, Inc. | Washington Dental Service Foundation | Whole Foods Market

40th Anniversary Timeline: 1974



In the wake of President Lyndon Johnson’s 1964 declaration of the War on Poverty, the North Seattle Community Service Center (NSCSC) opened in Fremont, then one of Seattle’s most economically devastated neighborhoods. A decade later, the Nixon administration slashed funding for many Great Society programs and the NSCSC was at risk.

Pat Proulx headshot

Pat Proulx, FPA founder, still actively working for a better world in Belfair, WA.

In response, local Fremont activists, including Pat Proulx and Fremont Baptist Church’s Rev. Bob Walker, re-formed the NSCSC as the nonprofit Fremont Public Association (FPA, renamed Solid Ground in 2007). In a community known for rabble-rousing artists, Vietnam war casualties and rampant poverty, the agency grew out of a strong community spirit: “to hell with the feds, in Fremont we can take care of our own.” That pioneering spirit of innovation, working together and taking action to build a better community, led to such innovations as curbside recycling, Community Voice Mail, Broadview Shelter and many others. And it still informs the work of Solid Ground today.

On Friday, April 4, 2014 from noon–1:30pm we’ll celebrate Solid Ground’s 40th Anniversary Building Community Luncheon.

We’ll highlight Solid Ground’s 40-year culture of innovation, partnership and action – which has created and supported some of our community’s most effective anti-poverty programs. We will lift up individual stories of leadership and courage, and discuss our plans for the future.

We’re honored to have Spike Lee as keynote speaker. With a body of work that spans four decades, he has written, produced, directed and acted in countless films that illuminate the impacts of racism in our country. Spike talks candidly, and with authority, about issues of race in mainstream media and Hollywood, using as a backdrop a rare behind-the-scenes look at his celebrated body of work. Solid Ground is pleased to bring such an influential person in the conversations about race and social justice to our event.

40th Anniversary Building Community Luncheon with keynote speaker Spike Lee, 4/4/14

Keynote speaker: Spike Lee, film director, producer, writer & actor

Keynote speaker: Spike Lee, film director, producer, writer & actor

Join us for Solid Ground’s 40th Anniversary Building Community Luncheon on Friday, April 4, 2014 from noon–1:30pm. This year, we’re honored to host Spike Lee as keynote speaker. With a body of work that spans four decades, he has written, produced, directed and acted in countless films that illuminate the impacts of racism in our country.

As one of the most outspoken African-American voices, he talks candidly, and with authority, about issues of race in mainstream media and Hollywood, using as a backdrop a rare behind-the-scenes look at his celebrated body of work.

And as an organization working to undo racism and other oppressions that are root causes of poverty, Solid Ground is pleased to bring such an influential person in the conversations about race and social justice to our event.

At this year’s Luncheon, we will also come together to celebrate 40+ years of building community to end poverty. We’ll highlight Solid Ground’s 40-year culture of innovation, partnership and action – a culture that has created some of our community’s most effective anti-poverty programs. We will lift up individual stories of leadership and courage, and discuss our plans for the future.

Save the Date for Solid Ground's Building Community Luncheon, 4/4/14

Investing in success

Solid Ground’s 13th Annual Building Community Luncheon was a resounding success! Over 650 people attended and we have raised in excess of $220,000 to help turn generational poverty into generational thriving!

Johnnie Williams

Johnnie Williams

Thank you to all of you who gathered with us on Friday, April 5. You are actively changing the story for 50,000 people a year: people like Johnnie Williams, who as a teen at Broadview learned to draw on his skills and strengths, build new ones, and land in a place of stability, where he could give back to the community and mentor others. Your investment in this work makes our community stronger.  You are our partners in this work and we are incredibly grateful.

Zufan, Sarah, Senit

Zufan, Sarah, Senit and Winta (l to r)

It was inspiring to shine a light on the personal stories of the generational successes from families who have lived at Broadview Emergency Shelter and Transitional Housing. Several case managers sat with the families as we screened the video at the Luncheon, and one shared some lovely comments on the experience:

“It was really wonderful and touching to see Zufan and her girls honored in such a way. Having known their family since they first came to Broadview and having the honor and privilege of working with them and seeing them rebuild their lives over the years it was really special. Zufan and Senit and Winta were literally “lit up” and smiling and laughing and so happy as they watched the video! It was really touching and special for me to be a part of their celebration.”

You can watch the full story of Zufan and her daughters, as well as youth mentor Johnnie Williams here.

Paul Tough, best-selling author

Paul Tough, best-selling author

We were also delighted to invite Paul Tough to discuss the ways an organization like Solid Ground can help children living in poverty succeed. The highlight of the program for me, personally, was when Paul was asked how he would invest $500 million to close the achievement gap and asked, “Could I just give it all to Solid Ground?” My answer to that is a resounding yes! (Paul, we’ll be following up with you on this later).

Most importantly, the Luncheon would not have been possible without the generous support of our sponsors. By underwriting the cost of the event, every dollar raised by our guests goes directly to Solid Ground.


We’d like to give a special thank you to AT&T, the Presenting Sponsor of the Luncheon this year. AT&T has had a strong legacy of investment and impact in the communities they serve for over a quarter century, and Solid Ground is delighted to be amongst AT&T’s partners.



If you are interested in getting involved with Solid Ground events as a table host, guest or sponsor, email me at

Tough talk on how children succeed

Nicole Brodeur to host Tough talk on how children succeed at Solid Ground’s 13th Annual Building Community Luncheon, April 5

Paul Tough, best-selling author

Paul Tough, best-selling author

For nearly 40 years, Solid Ground has grappled with how to effectively end poverty for families and individuals. How do people build the foundation they need so that they and their children can thrive?

On April 5, 2013, we are bringing best-selling author Paul Tough to our Building Community Luncheon to help us find out. (Noon – 1:30 pm at the Westin Hotel, 1900 5th Ave. Guests asked to give a suggested minimum donation of $150.)

“Paul Tough has scoured the science and met the people who are challenging what we thought we knew about childhood and success,” said author Charles Duhigg. “And now he has written the instruction manual. Every parent should read this book – and every policymaker, too.”

To that we add: Every social change agent should read it – and hear from Paul Tough as well!

Tough’s How Children Succeed picks up where his look at Geoffrey Canada and the Harlem Children’s Zone left off. In it, he presents cutting edge research from neuroscientists and psychologists about the challenges that most significantly impact young children, especially those growing up in poverty. Educators weigh in on some of the most promising school- and community-based interventions.

As Solid Ground interacts with kids from families living on low-incomes in school-based programs through Washington Reading Corps, Apple Corps and Penny Harvest – and houses an increasing population of young children – we continue to build and refine our own models of support for families moving from crises to thriving.

The Luncheon will shed light on the generational success stories coming out of our Broadview program, which has been responding to the needs of women and kids experiencing homelessness, most of them victims of domestic violence, for more than 20 years. And we will engage Tough in a dynamic conversation that moves beyond a standard keynote speaker’s recitation of the highlights of their book.

Nicole Brodeur

Nicole Brodeur

Noted local journalist Nicole Brodeur of the Seattle Times will emcee the event and lead a conversation with Tough focusing on how a social justice agency like Solid Ground can incorporate new understandings and best practices into our work.

In the New York Times Sunday Book Review, Annie Murphy Paul said that Tough’s work “illuminates the extremes of American childhood: for rich kids, a safety net drawn so tight it’s a harness; for poor kids, almost nothing to break their fall.”

Much of the book revolves around a developing thesis that success is based more on character traits than cognitive skills. Among the most important is learning how to manage and overcome failure.

Tough looks at science that demonstrates how our adrenal response to environmental stress can program us for failure. Neuroscientists and psychologists weigh in on how growing up in poverty creates stress and trauma that lead to “impaired social skills, an inability to sit still and follow directions, and what teachers perceive as misbehavior.”

“Despite these children’s intense needs, school reformers have not been very successful at creating interventions that work for them; they have done much better at creating interventions that work for children from better-off low-income families, those making $41,000 a year. No one has found a reliable way to help deeply disadvantaged children, in fact. Instead, what we have created is a disjointed, ad hoc system of governmental agencies and programs that follow them haphazardly through their childhood and adolescence,” Tough writes.

But, having said that, Tough documents reformers in schools and other settings whose efforts are making an impact on their communities, and offers learnings that can influence our work in Seattle and beyond.

“But we could design an entirely different system for children who are dealing with deep and pervasive adversity at home,” Tough writes.

Come join us on April 5 to be part of this conversation and hear directly from Tough what Solid Ground and you can do to help children succeed.

Thank you for having lunch with us

Melissa Harris-Perry presents the keynote address on poverty and racism in the U.S.

You, our fantastic table hosts and guests, raised nearly $200,000 for Solid Ground’s 12th annual Building Community Luncheon! We’d like to thank everyone who made the event a success: our speakers, sponsors, table hosts and guests.

It was energizing to come together to celebrate our ongoing work and together move forward. We are finding ways to better integrate our services to be more effective, with the continuous goal of best serving our community.

Quinn Smart: How many of you have taken the time to seek out and listen to a child’s opinion on how to be a better philanthropist?

Quinn Smart, Penny Harvest Youth Board member, captivated us once again and illustrated how much of an impact one person – one kid – can make, when we work toward a common goal together. Her ask for support definitely inspired our guests.

Melissa Harris-Perry’s keynote was riveting. It was hard to fight the urge to take copious notes as she discussed structural racism and how important it is that we all remember that we are connected. Luckily for me (and you), there was no need to take notes, as her full keynote address is available on our YouTube Channel.

Most importantly, the Luncheon would not have been possible without the generous support of our sponsors. By underwriting the cost of the event, every dollar raised by our guests can go directly to Solid Ground.

Thank you to Microsoft, our Presenting Sponsor this year. We are honored to continue a partnership that has spanned over 15 years. Through significant investments in our programs, housing facilities and IT capacity, Microsoft has helped Solid Ground get more people out of poverty and to a place of thriving.

Thank you, also, to our Community Builder and Supporter Sponsors.



Melissa Harris-Perry, rising media star and noted author, to deliver luncheon keynote

Melissa Harris-Perry

Solid Ground is thrilled to announce that Melissa Harris-Perry will present the keynote address at our May 11, 2012 Building Community Luncheon. She will speak on “Racial justice and its relationship to fighting poverty.”

Harris-Perry, a longstanding political analyst and contributor to MSNBC, is a frequent guest of PoliticsNation with Rev. Al Sharpton, and also serves as occasional host of The Rachel Maddow Show and The Last Word. Beginning mid-February she will host her own show (as yet unnamed) on MSNBC on Saturdays and Sundays from 10am – 12noon.

Harris-Perry “take(s) on the most-challenging issues of the day with the kind of sophisticated sass and vigor that is often lacking on mainstream television,” according to NewsOne for Black America.

An award-winning author and columnist for The Nation, Harris-Perry is also a professor of political science at Tulane University, where she is founding director of the Anna Julia Cooper Project on Gender, Race and Politics in the South.

Her latest book is called SISTER CITIZEN: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America – For Colored Girls Who’ve Considered Politics When Being Strong Isn’t Enough.

Luncheon guests will be treated to Harris-Perry’s warmth, intelligent humor and sharp analysis. For a preview, check out this clip from her January 9, 2012 appearance on The Colbert Report.

Luncheon sponsors and table hosts will be invited to a special Q&A session with Harris-Perry following the event. For more information on sponsoring or hosting a table, contact Megan Locatelli at 206.694.6862 or

Luncheon preview: A bigger chance to change the world

Maybe you are thinking: How is this fundraising luncheon different from other fundraising luncheons? Because at this event, we present to you true hope for the future. Here’s a little sneak peek…

We’ll also have moving testimony from folks who have made the transition from homelessness back to solid ground, a captivating keynote speech from Dan Savage about the It Gets Better Project, and 800 folks who, like you, think that building community to end poverty is not just a good excuse for lunching together, it’s what we do. Every day.

There are still seats available, tables to host and sponsorships to buy. Email to get involved.

Goose bumps and our annual Luncheon

Moving in to Brettler Family Place!

I hope you saw the recent B-1 feature in the Seattle Times about Brettler Family Place, entitled Families’ new lives a sign homeless isn’t hopeless. Everyone who has been to Magnuson Park to see Brettler Family Place gets goose bumps just looking at the beautiful development and realizing what a life-changing opportunity it is for the 51 formerly homeless families who are moving in this month. As a community, we can all take pride in coming together to end homelessness for these folks.

On Friday, May 6, we’ll gather at the 11th Annual Solid Ground Building Community Luncheon to celebrate efforts like this and focus on the work ahead. We want you to be there to share in the powerful stories of our programs’ success.

In fact, please consider hosting a table of 10 and inviting your friends, family and colleagues to join you. There is no ticket price, but we’ll ask you to donate $150. The Luncheon is 12:00 noon – 1:30 pm at the Washington State Convention and Trade Center. To sign up for the Luncheon, contact Megan Locatelli at or 206.694.6862.

Our keynote speaker is Dan Savage, an outspoken and sometimes controversial speaker who at times challenges even things we hold dear! Dan will inspire us with a talk about his It Gets Better Project, which provides support and guidance to LGBT youth who have been bullied – in fact to anyone seeking a relief from isolation and oppression. Table Captains will be invited to attend an exclusive Q&A with Dan following the event.

For more information on the event, go to our website.

Operators are standing by; contact Megan Locatelli at or 206.694.6862!

Here is one sample video from the It Gets Better project. Just try watching this without being moved!

Dan Savage brings It Gets Better project to Solid Ground Luncheon

It Gets Better with Dan Savage

On Friday, May 6, 2011, we will come together 800 strong to celebrate courage and hope: the courage to stand up for what we believe in and the hope of a better future for our community. Solid Ground’s work to undo poverty and oppression sits on a foundation of engaging and encouraging each other – clients, staff, donors and community members – to be a part of something bigger.

We hope that you will join us this year for the 11th Annual Building Community Luncheon. We are currently seeking Table Hosts who can invite their community to join in support of Solid Ground. The Luncheon is Solid Ground’s most important fundraiser, and revenue from the event  sustains Solid Ground’s vital anti-poverty work in King County. Guests at the Luncheon will be asked to make a minimum gift of $150.

We are thrilled to welcome keynote speaker Dan Savage. While Dan is best known as editor of Seattle’s The Stranger newspaper and author of the internationally syndicated Savage Love relationship advice column, he has also done groundbreaking anti-oppression work that shows just how effectively one person can change the world! Looking for a way to respond to the epidemic suicide rate among gay teens, Dan and his partner Terry launched the It Gets Better project, which involves a series of viral videos aimed at giving hope, strength and support to gay teens who struggle with social isolation, depression and bullying.

By creating this safe space, Savage mobilized a movement of caring adults who through thoughtful and passionate videos share their similar experiences and urge teens not to give up. The “It Gets Better” project is a powerful testament to the impact any one of us can have on the world!

As a Table Host, you will fill a full table (10 people) or half table (5 people) from your networks, and serve as the point person for your table at the event. We will support you as much as needed in asking your friends, family and coworkers to attend the Luncheon with you. While there is no ticket price, guests are asked to make a gift of $150 at the event. Many give much more!

And as a Table Host, you will be invited to an exclusive post-event question and answer session with Dan Savage!

For more information, or to sign up as a Table Host, email Ali Friedman or call her at 206.694.6852.

Here is Dan and Terry’s initial It Gets Better video:

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