Volunteers count on Merry Christmas fund to help families

December 14, 2010

By Staff

Emergency relief for Issaquah area families is the one and only focus of Issaquah Community Services. But Issaquah Community Services could not exist without contributions from others. Two-thirds of its annual budget comes from donations to the annual fund drive known as Merry Christmas Issaquah.

But Issaquah Community Services also couldn’t be there for those in need without dedicated volunteers who meet with those seeking help, giving referrals and a small bit of financial help.

Issaquah Community Services volunteers work in pairs on a rotating schedule 9-10 a.m., five days a week. One busy day earlier this fall, there was the usual knock on the door, located at the fire station on Sunset Way.“It was a lovely East African woman,” volunteer Marie Frauenheim recalled. “Brilliant eyes reveal her strength but concern is on her face as she asks if this is where people can get help with rent. Her story is this: working 32 hours a week and being on her own for over a year while awaiting child support for her daughter and sons, she just can’t make ends meet.”

Issaquah Community Services is able to help, but with limited resources, $200 toward rent is the most they are able to provide.

“This will help her this month, we all hope for the next. She is genuinely grateful as she says thank you. I wish we could do much more,” Frauenheim said.

Before confirmation with the landlord is complete, there is a second knock. It is another mother who has recently moved herself and her children from the plateau to a less expensive apartment in the valley. She is looking for work in Issaquah, but she also seeks help with her rent. Again a landlord is called, a pledge made, but she will have to continue looking for ways to make the rental payment.

“Tears welling, she said ‘I used to do what you are doing. I was the one helping and now I do not know where to turn, or how I am going to make it,’” Frauenheim said. “We suggested other sources of help, then sent her out the door.”

The phone rings and this time a senior citizen tells of her added medical expenses and how she is behind in her power bill. She has very little money left for food.

“We called Puget Sound Energy, checked the specifics and pledged to pay her up to date,” Frauenheim said. “When we tell her, I remember that tears have sound on a telephone.”

The volunteers at Issaquah Community Services have one big wish — for more funds to be able to help more people help themselves get through a crisis. By the end of this month, Issaquah Community Services volunteers will have been called on for help nearly 500 times in 2010, a big jump from the 302 calls just two years ago. Some just need a bus ticket, but others fear becoming homeless. Most have children.

Send donations to Merry Christmas Issaquah, c/o The Issaquah Press, P.O. Box 1328, Issaquah, WA 98027. Donation names, but not dollar amounts, will be published unless anonymity is requested.

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