2021 ANNUAL REPORT
Steve Corsi, Psy. D.
As we enter into recovery from the COVID pandemic, Volunteers of America Western Washington looks to our community for guidance on how to serve them in meaningful ways, for it is those who are in need that guide our mission and direct our purpose. When we paused to listen, we heard numerous times that the gap was closing. Hope was just around the corner. Stability was in sight.
In response, our Hunger Prevention team responded by cutting the ribbon on a 60,000-sf food distribution center in Arlington supporting our food bank coalition partners in moving 5.4M pounds of food into homes where it’s needed most. Our Behavioral Health team responded by expanding to include tribal crisis services for our Indigenous friends and neighbors and began preparation to launch 988, a state-of-the art, one-stop, suicide prevention hotline. Our Early Childhood team, with their ECEAP low-income preschools and wraparound services, responded by opening 20 additional slots in an underserved area to guide young learners in a path of readiness for kindergarten and their parents toward self-sufficiency. The Housing Services team, long in hibernation, rapidly reassembled to respond to need and fully mobilized in July by expanding their team ten-fold to connect residents to $54M in rental assistance benefits. Our Dispute Resolution Centers responded by introducing the Eviction Resolution Pilot Program (ERPP), facilitating tenant-landlord agreements to prevent evictions. Our senior programs, youth coalition, and community resource centers (CRCs) responded by providing individuals a safe place to be seen, heard, and taken care of.
These are a few of the meaningful ways our VOAWW family has cared for, advocated for, and delivered services to over 315,000 people in Washington over the past year. I have personally witnessed people with tears running down their face as our team put boxes of food in their car who have told us, “I never thought I would have to go to a food bank,” or others who have said, “If VOA had not been there for us, my family would be homeless right now,” or, “I made the call and she talked me into staying alive one day at a time, and it’s been years now.”
I am inspired by the way our staff and volunteers show up and respond each day, in ways big and small across eight very diverse service programs to create a foundation of hope where a life of stability is possible. Please join me in revisiting 2021, where I hope that you also find inspiration in the stories and achievements we are honored to share.
In His service,
Steve Corsi, Psy.D.
Board of Directors Chair
IN PURSUIT OF STABILITY
As the COVID-19 pandemic moves from global crisis to recovery, so does the physical, mental, and social health of the local communities we serve. Last year, rising vaccination rates literally opened doors to opportunities for employment, education, fellowship, and revitalizing a weary economy. Though moving in the right direction, progress is slow, and stability remains elusive for many.
Volunteers of America Western Washington is devoted to supporting those in pursuit of healthy, independent lives. With 8 service areas, 483 employees, and 247 active volunteers, we carry on VOA founder Ballington Booth's mission to "go wherever we are needed and do whatever comes to hand." We have continued to expand our services, pivot our response to areas of critical concern , and strengthen our foundation of providing for basic needs like food, shelter, wellness, education, and a sense of belonging.
Here is a look back at how we answered the call for our most vulnerable neighbors in 2021.
VOA opened a new 55,000 sf food distribution center in Arlington in October 2021. This expansion provided a more efficient way to move out 5.4M pounds of food to the communities we serve, representing 4.5M meals in homes where it is needed most.
Housing Services mobilized in July and grew from a team of 8 to 84 housing navigators.
Rapid Rehousing launched in 2021 to help households to quickly exit homelessness and return to permanent housing by supporting financial independence.
A total of 270 children were served through the Early Childhood Education & Assistance Program (ECEAP) preschool in Sultan, Monroe, and Everett.
Across Snohomish, Skagit, Whatcom, Island, and San Juan counties, we fielded 32,342 calls for referrals to resources to provide assistance in a time of need. This amounts to more than 130 calls every business day.
In Arlington, we disbursed $4.85M in direct assistance to aid in housing, utilities, transportation, and childcare.
The Lake Stevens Community Resource Center opened in January 2021 and provided 3,055 individuals with nearly $2.1M in subsidies.
In Sky Valley, more than $1 million in direct assistance and 276,152 pounds of food were distributed.
East Snohomish County hosted two cold weather shelters for nights when the temperature fell to 34º or below. Safe haven was given to 81 individuals in Monroe and 63 in Snohomish. A total of 909 bed nights were provided during the season.
Maud's House emergency shelter housed 21 mothers and 27 children.
Last year, in partnership with the City of Everett, VOA took over the operations for the Carl Gipson Center on a 14-year lease that will connect seniors and community members to social interaction and physical fitness. In Sultan, the Sky Valley Elderly Nutrition Delivery (S.E.N.D.) program provided 42 homebound seniors with 14,452 prepared meals delivered to their door, all year long.
Total chats received from imhurting.org, our 24-hour crisis chat support, exceeded 12,000 last year. This is in addition to the 105,241 calls that were made to across four staffed crisis lines. The Washington Indian Behavioral Health Hub was launched, serving as a central access point for those affiliated with the Native American and Alaskan Native Communities, from helping navigate Joel's law to providing culturally appropriate resources to overcome barriers to assistance.
VOA operated 31 houses to provide in-home care to 92 individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Direct Service Professionals spent 428,900 hours to help clients develop skills for healthy, meaningful lives.
DISPUTE RESOLUTION CENTERS LEAD THE WAY
COVID-19 changed the way of life for so many. Suddenly, the guarantee of a job turned to uncertainty. A sense of home and safety began to crumble without access to reliable income. In 2021, the pandemic was clinging to its second year, and as eviction moratorium protections began expiring, The State of Washington recognized that gaps remained. To help families avoid homelessness and bankruptcy, state lawmakers looked to impartial mediators to help bridge the financial divide before eviction cases made their way to court and launched the Eviction Resolution Pilot Program (ERPP).
Volunteers of America Western Washington's Dispute Resolution Center was founded in 1982 as the Rental Housing Mediation Service. In 1986, it became the first dispute resolution center in the State of Washington. Uniquely qualified for this large-scale endeavor with more than 30 years of preparation behind us, we rolled out the ERPP program in July 2021 and became the first of its kind in the nation. And, because participation in the ERPP is voluntary, free, and confidential, it empowers renters who need support to champion their independence and take ownership of their future. Likewise, landlords experiencing ongoing challenges could also seek help, avoiding an uncertain fate.
every number is a home in need of hope.
individuals directly served
living 300% or more below
federal poverty level
Combined with this program, Housing Navigators connected 6,566 households to $57.1M in rental assistance.
Housing Services and the Dispute Resolution Centers worked together to provide a path to hope and stability in a time of critical need. From scaling up a team ten-fold to rolling out the nation's first-ever program to prevent an eviction crisis, Volunteers of America Western Washington paved a way through unpredictability for thousands who had nowhere else to turn.
"Stability is peace that flows from the knowledge that tomorrow will not be desperate or trying. From early childhood to old age, VOAWW reminds people that stability is just ahead."
- Aaron O., Development Team
Edelia Mendoza* (not pictured) is a single mom. A college student pursuing a nursing degree. An immigrant. A survivor of domestic abuse. Edelia Mendoza is persistent.
In 2020, a new job at Boeing as an electrician suddenly evaporated. “In June, there were rumors of layoffs because of COVID,” she remembers. “It was in order of seniority, and I was one of the newest employees, so they let me go.” That was in July. By September, she was falling behind on rent. Unemployment benefits were not enough to support herself and her son Mateo. “I was visiting the food banks to get meat and vegetables, so I could cook. But there’s still the car, phone, rent, insurance, and everything else that needs to be paid.”
And the need was dire. Edelia faithfully made rent payments of what she could afford, but the partial amounts couldn’t prevent the balance from ballooning to more than $13,000 as the pandemic continued into its second year.
Luckily, the staff at the HNN Communities property where Edelia lived were compassionate and knowledgeable about residents in similar circumstances. They helped her connect to Volunteers of America through 2-1-1. She worked closely with her housing navigator and learned she qualified for rental assistance, giving her the freedom to stay enrolled in school while being at home to care for Mateo as he attended school remotely.
Edelia is now caught up on her rent. She is still in school and looks forward to a career as an RN. A career with a future, “so this doesn’t happen again.” Meanwhile, she drives for Uber part-time and was just offered her job back by Boeing. The other side of stability is in sight, and VOA was there to fill in the gaps to reach it.
*All names have been changed to protect confidentiality.
Program & Other $748,686
Private Support $1,659,774
(Individuals, Corporations, Organizations & Foundations)
Public Support $85,407,646
(Government Contracts & Grants)
Total Support & Revenue
Programs & Services $93,943,685
Promoting Self-Sufficiency $79,692,850
Fostering Independence $11,410,849
Encouraging Positive Development $2,839,986
Management / General $5,308,189
Ellie & Dixie
Ellie the potato puller. Ellie the Christmas Elf. Ellie the recipient of the Presidential Volunteer Service Award for the last nine years running.
Ellie Behn grew up in the halls of VOA. She has volunteered with us since the age of four, when her mom, Dixie, began work here more than twelve years ago. Dixie says that without VOA, Ellie wouldn’t love service as much as she does. Ellie admits, “Asking me my favorite part of volunteering is like asking about a favorite child. But pulling potatoes was probably the most fun I’ve had.” Then, turning to her mom, “When can we do that again?”
"That day was spent pulling potatoes and chasing voles,” Dixie says with a smirk. “She had a blast.”
Both have spent their lives serving others, whether as a vocation or a volunteer. Dixie’s jobs in the court system, adult probation, and emergency dispatching often saw her helping the same people time and again, most of whom were struggling with chemical dependency and mental health. After ten years, her realization that these struggles “...were really a basic needs issue. Basic needs weren’t being met. I knew I had to be in a line of work that targeted the root cause of so much suffering.”
After managing a drug and alcohol treatment facility in Everett for 10 years, everything suddenly changed when the facility closed. Without an income, Dixie sought help from VOA for rent and utilities. “It was about two months in when my case manager told me they were hiring for a receptionist. It was only ten dollars an hour, but it was something. And I knew I could make a difference.”
She extended that belief to her children, repeating her mantra that one hour of service can change a life. With Ellie in tow, Dixie has changed positions throughout her tenure, each with progressive responsibility. Over those years, Ellie has volunteered in myriad ways from the Stuff a Bus event to the Meaningful Day Program to an annual tradition of acting as the VOA Christmas Elf.
Dixie now serves as the Director of Property Management, while Ellie is entering her Senior year of high school with sights set on the University of Washington for a degree in clinical psychology, so she can return to VOA in our crisis services.
Dixie says the future of VOA is full of opportunity. “With our leadership, the amount of ideas, the expansion, we are finding more ways to help and continue to grow. Too many still don’t know who we are, but I see so much possibility to reach more outlying communities and spread the mission.”
For those who ask what our organization is about, she tries to offer a concise way to describe it. “I used to say, ‘We are a social services agency that assists the community through food banks, ECEAP preschool, dispute resolution, and go on to list everything we do. Now I say, ‘Wanna know what we’re about? Come volunteer with us.’” Chimes in Ellie, “We aren’t just a food bank.”
Dixie and Ellie Behn have given of their time to VOA, Lake Stevens, and other Snohomish County communities to make them better places for having served. Their story was featured as part of 2021's "I am VOA" campaign.
PO Box 839
Everett, WA 98206-0839
Financial data in this report are preliminary and subject to change upon audit. More detailed financial reporting available upon request.