Council sets aside nearly $1 million for affordable housing

September 30, 2015

NEW — 5:17 p.m. Sept. 30, 2015

While council members have admitted the money won’t do much by itself, on Sept. 21, the City Council approved setting aside $965,000 for affordable housing projects in Issaquah.

Actually, the council returned the money to the cause of affordable housing after an effort to create a human services campus in the city ended in August. That effort started in 2006; the council approved moving $1 million in affordable housing funds to support the campus effort in 2008.

Saying they simply had exhausted every feasible possibility, officials of the Redmond-based Together Center called a halt to the effort to build a combined social services center in Issaquah. Center officials said they simply could not find affordable property and called a halt to the search. At the Sept. 21 meeting, various council members expressed disappointment the plan did not come to fruition. Councilman Joshua Schaer expressed a hope the money set aside for the center eventually would be put to some other significant use. Minus $35,000 spent on a city-approved feasibility study, the money earmarked for the Together Center became available again. Read more

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Together Center abandons plans to bring human services campus to Issaquah

August 17, 2015

NEW — 6 p.m. Aug. 17, 2015

An effort apparently underway since 2006 has come to an end.

On Aug. 14, Together Center announced it is concluding efforts to establish a human services campus in Issaquah.

Lead volunteers Margaret Moore and John Rittenhouse, along with Together Center CEO Pam Mauk, met with Issaquah officials to inform them of their decision.

“Identification and acquisition of appropriate property has been the major stumbling block,” Moore said in a press release. “We know the Issaquah community’s need for easier access to services has only grown. We also know that there are many agencies that would love to be part of a nonprofit service hub. We just could not find a site where we could pull this off in Issaquah.” Read more

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Issaquah resident named to Together Center board of directors

December 23, 2014

The Together Center recently announced the addition of Rob Forenza to its board of directors.

Forenza, a resident of Issaquah, is principal, designated broker for Applied Capital in Bellevue.

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Human Services Campus plans move forward

August 26, 2014

Issaquah’s planned Human Services Campus has made its way back to the City Council for discussion.

Service organizations AtWork!, of Issaquah, and the Together Center, of Redmond, have long worked to develop an Issaquah campus that would incorporate a number of local nonprofit organizations under one roof.

A search for a location to house the campus held the project up until last year. Now, with a location in mind, the two organizations will work on a three-party agreement with the city to see the plan come to fruition.

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Teamwork could form human services campus

July 30, 2013

Service organization AtWork! might team up with the Together Center to found a human services campus in the former’s existing facility.

In its effort to bring employment and community service agencies together, the Together Center, in Redmond, has had plans to established a location that could house multiple resources for all people. Housing, job placement and medical services are just a few of the things it hopes to bring into such a facility.

“We’ve been looking for property for years,” Together Center Executive Director Pam Mauk said. Though the two organizations have only been communicating for a few months, she said their common goals could mean cooperation. “We are both in discussions. The missions of AtWork! and Together Center could work together at that site.”

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Time runs out for end-of-year donations to nonprofit organizations

December 31, 2012

NEW — 2 p.m. Dec. 31, 2012

The need is up nonprofit organizations, but as donors start to make out checks for year-end donations, local organizations sometimes struggle to stand out in a field crowded with requests for giving.

In King County, end-of-year charitable giving to nonprofit organizations is on the to-do list for many donors. The average person makes 24 percent of annual donations between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve, according to research from the Center on Philanthropy.

Issaquah and the Puget Sound region maintain a long-held reputation for generosity to charitable causes. The key for nonprofit organizations to successfully solicit donations, local leaders said, is to highlight successes.

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Site is eyed for Issaquah human services campus

July 31, 2012

The long-gestating plan to build a human services campus in Issaquah is a step closer to reality, as organizers inch closer to selecting a site for the facility.

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‘GiveBIG’ to local nonprofit organizations May 2

April 24, 2012

The Seattle Foundation is staging a day of charitable giving in King County — and people can donate to numerous Issaquah-based organizations and groups serving local residents.

The foundation’s GiveBIG fundraising is a daylong event May 2.

GiveBIG invites people to make donations to almost 1,000 nonprofit organizations, including the Issaquah Schools Foundation, Village Theatre, Friends of the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery, Habitat for Humanity of East King County, Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust, YWCA of Seattle-King-Snohomish and the Together Center.

Each donation made to the more than 1,300 nonprofit organizations profiled on The Seattle Foundation’s website between midnight and midnight receives a pro-rated portion of the matching funds, or “stretch,” pool. The amount of the “stretch” depends on the size of the stretch pool and how much is raised in total donations on GiveBIG day

Find a complete list of participating organizations and donation information at The Seattle Foundation’s website,

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Together Center receives $35,420 grant for renovation

February 7, 2012

The Together Center in Redmond, which helps local residents, has received a grant of $35,420 from the Employees Community Fund of Boeing Puget Sound to support renovation of recently vacated space for use by nonprofit, direct-service agencies.

Previously, the center was the recipient of two $5,000 grants from the Microsoft Corp. and the Norman Archibald Charitable Foundation, while the Rotary Club of Redmond pitched in an additional $1,500.

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Local charities combat ‘compassion fatigue’ amid year-end giving

December 20, 2011

What to know

If you make a donation to a charity this year, you may be able to take a deduction on your tax return. In order to help taxpayers interested in making charitable donations — and tax deductions — the Internal Revenue Service offers the following tips:

Make sure the organization qualifies — Charitable contributions must be made to qualified organizations to be deductible. Find a list of qualified organizations in IRS Publication 78, Cumulative List of Organizations, at

What you can deduct — You can deduct your cash contributions and the fair market value of most property you donate to a qualified organization, but special rules apply to several types of donated property, including clothing or household items, cars and boats.

When you receive something in return — If your contribution entitles you to receive merchandise, goods or services in return — such as admission to a charity banquet or sporting event — you can deduct only the amount exceeding the fair market value of the benefit received.

How to keep records — Keep records of any contribution you make, regardless of the amount. For any cash contribution, you must maintain a record of the contribution, such as a cancelled check, bank or credit card statement, payroll deduction record or a written statement from the charity containing the date and amount of the contribution and the name of the organization.

Handling pledges and payments — Only contributions actually made during the tax year qualify as deductible. For example, if you pledged $500 in September but paid the charity only $200 by Dec. 31, you can only deduct $200.

Many legitimate charities use telemarketing, direct mail, email and online ads to ask for contributions. Unfortunately, scam artists also use the same techniques to defraud donors. If someone asks for a donation, take time to learn about the charity:

Ask for the charity’s name, address, phone number and written information about its programs.

Ask whether the person contacting you is a professional fundraiser and how much of your contribution is meant for fundraising costs.

Check the history of the organization with the Washington Secretary of State’s Office at

Potential donors should also know the warning signs of a scam:

Reject high-pressure pitches, and remember: It’s OK to hang up.

Be skeptical of a thank-you message for a pledge you do not remember making.; scam artists will lie to get your money.

Avoid giving cash donations.

Avoid charities offering to send a courier or overnight delivery service to collect money.

Avoid charities guaranteeing sweepstakes winnings in exchange for a contribution.

Avoid charities forming overnight, especially in the aftermath of natural disasters, or claim to be for police officers, veterans or firefighters.

Source: Federal Trade Commission

The year is almost over, and unending calls, email and mailers requesting donations pour in at the same pace as Christmas cards.

The need is up for local human services organizations and other nonprofit groups, but as the economy remains anemic, leaders at such organizations raised concerns about “compassion fatigue” — a drop-off in chartable donations due to overexposure to calls for aid.

Issaquah and, indeed, the entire Puget Sound region maintain a long-held reputation for generosity to charitable causes. However, compassion fatigue is acute, especially as local organizations assist more people amid the economic downturn and groups face the ever-present prospect of additional cuts as local and state governments trim spending.

“Where does the fatigue come from? I think it comes from the number of people asking in a noncoordinated fashion that are all trying different strategies,” said Jared Erlandson, public relations manager for United Way of King County.

Timing is another factor. The entreaties from nonprofit organizations come amid the holiday season, as people juggle commitments.

“Our experience is that people give at the end of the year,” Together Center Executive Director Pam Mauk said. “That’s when they think about it. That’s when they want to give.”

(The nonprofit Together Center, a human services campus in Redmond, serves clients from Issaquah and elsewhere on the Eastside.)

But the deluge from numerous nonprofit organizations can sometimes turn off potential donors.

“People are indeed swamped by the requests and probably aren’t appreciative of all the requests that they’re getting,” Mauk said.

Organizations also need to offer a compelling message to donate in order to cut through the clutter to reach potential donors.

“You can’t be saying the same thing every time,” Erlandson said. “If you’re always saying, ‘The sky is falling. Things are worse now than they’ve ever been. The need is greater.’ Those are the kind of catchphrases that, I think cause compassion fatigue.”

Still, the limping economy has created a greater need and especially a temporary need for people slow to rebound after job losses or other setbacks.

“We all know somebody who needs a hand right now and may not a month from now,” Erlandson said.

Though donations spike in the aftermath of major tragedies, such as the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and Hurricane Katrina, giving is sometimes tougher for organizations addressing ongoing issues, such as homelessness and poverty.

“We know that people in a huge, epic disaster don’t even think twice. It’s like, ‘Oh my gosh, Katrina, where’s my checkbook?’” Erlandson said. “Those kinds of donations are over and above their normal giving.”

Claire Petersky, executive director of Sammamish-based Eastside Friends of Seniors, said showing potential donors how funding is used is important.

“Whether you are donating or whether you are volunteering, I think if you see a visible change in somebody else’s life, then you have a feeling that this isn’t like a never-ending pit of need,” she said.

The solution for Eastside Friends of Seniors is to send regular updates to donors about how donations assist the organization’s mission to aid local senior citizens. Petersky said a board member even joined the organization after reading about Eastside Friends of Seniors’ accomplishments in a message sent to donors and volunteers.

“I know I made a difference in that person’s life. I think that that gives a sense of accomplishment and helps overcome that sensation of being overwhelmed,” Petersky said.

(The organization changed names from Faith in Action to Eastside Friends of Seniors in late September.)

Contact between organizations and donors throughout the year is essential, too, leaders at local nonprofit groups said.

“If people see, here’s my 50 bucks, here’s my 100 bucks and they never hear back from you, they never see any result, they don’t know what that donation accomplished, it’s going to really compile for next year or later on this year when you go back to ask these people,” Erlandson said. “So, for us, a key is showing results.”

Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or Comment at

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