Merry Christmas Issaquah assists families in need
November 26, 2013
By Christina Corrales-Toy
When popular Bellevue eatery Lil’ Jon restaurant went up in flames June 13, it was a heartbreaking blow for regulars that frequented the spot, known for its breakfasts.
It was even worse for Issaquah resident and Lil’ Jon server Marita Davidson, who temporarily lost her job, as the restaurant underwent a major rehabilitation.
“It’s been there so long and nothing tragic has ever happened there before, so we were all in shock and devastated by that,” she said. “It was hard to regroup after that with the loss of income.”
Davidson will return to her job in mid-December, when the restaurant is set to reopen after extensive repairs, but it is this kind of sudden, unexpected occurrence, that moves Issaquah Community Services into action.
The all-volunteer organization offers emergency financial aid to residents of the Issaquah School District in the form of utility payments, rent assistance and other miscellaneous contributions, depending on a client’s specific need.
Issaquah Community Services helped Davidson, who cares for her three young grandchildren, pay for her rent and power bill while she got back on her feet.
“They’re just so wonderful. They make you feel so welcomed when you come to them,” Davidson said of the all-volunteer staff.
Issaquah Community Services receives about 500 requests for emergency aid each year. The organization currently has an annual budget of just more than $100,000.
The nonprofit is maintained by a team of 25 volunteers, allowing nearly every penny donated to go directly to the families in need.
Merry Christmas Issaquah is the organization’s most important fundraiser all year. Organizers set a $75,000 goal for 2013.
The fundraiser — spearheaded by The Issaquah Press since 1981 — set a record for the number of donors last year with 244, but fell short of its $75,000 goal, raising $68,683.
Issaquah Community Services relies on a trained team to assist people in need — especially if the person requesting assistance is embarrassed or reluctant.
That’s one of the things Davidson said she appreciated most about the organization — a staff that understood the needs of their clients and were sensitive to their situations.
“They’re an organization that really cares about people that are coming to them in need, and they don’t make them feel ‘less than’ just because they’re asking for help,” she said.
The holiday fundraising drive accounts for about 80 percent of Issaquah Community Services’ annual budget.
The fund has received more than $800,000 in donations since its inception.
Davidson said she would always be grateful to Issaquah Community Services for coming into her life at a time when she most needed it.
“There’s no one else like them out there, that helps the way they do,” she said, “and with the attitude that they have.”