Dr. Jill Biden spoke at the annual Hopelink luncheon on Oct. 16 in Bellevue. Aaron Kunkler, Kirkland Reporter

‘Even when things are tough, we are tougher’: Jill Biden speaks at Hopelink luncheon

Dr. Jill Biden spoke at the annual Hopelink luncheon on Oct. 16, which saw the organization raise some $1.17 million toward its fundraising campaign.

Biden is a Doctor of Education, professor and former Second Lady of the United States.

She addressed the need for communities to pull together to help each other out.

“This world feels a little bit crazier right now, doesn’t it?” she asked.

In particular, tragedies like the recent storms that swept across Puerto Rico and Houston were on her mind.

Biden said as a professor, she sees many students who are struggling in their lives, but many of them find ways to give back to the community.

This is how she views Redmond-based Hopelink, she said.

“Even when things are tough, we are tougher,” Biden said.

Biden praised community efforts like Hopelink where people came together to work toward common goals that help tackle challenges within communities.

While no one can fix the world, we can all do what we can, she said.

“Our communities are strongest when we see that we all, we all have a part to play,” she said.

Other speakers at the luncheon included Kristine Phillips, a local resident who received help from Hopelink to leave an abusive relationship.

After her boyfriend strangled her, she left, leaving her broke and homeless.

Phillips said she chose to go to Hopelink for help.

“I can’t begin to explain the feeling of excitement and hope that day,” she said.

Phillips was able to get into housing provided by Hopelink and said today she is in a much better place.

Hopelink was formed in 1971 to serve homeless and low-income families and individuals in need in north and east King County.

On top of transportation services through King and Snohomish counties, they also provide adult education, emergency financial help, employment services, energy assistance, family development, financial literacy, food assistance and housing and transportation assistance.

They serve around 64,000 people annually with plans to increase that number.

One of the unofficial tag lines used by some who had used Hopelink services was “Not a handout, but a way out.”

Consequently, they are nearly done with a $25 million capital finance campaign, with the $1.17 million raised at the luncheon pushing the organization that much closer to their goal.

This funding has gone toward renovating the Kenmore Shelter, which is the only shelter for the homeless in north King County. It required extensive renovations and now offers 11 safe homes that will help an estimated 1,000 families over a 50-year lifespan.

The Ronald Commons in Shoreline was completed last February, and development on a new headquarters for Hopelink was started in April.

Hopelink is also shooting to expand and serve 10,000 more families and expand its food program, which currently serves 15,000 people each year through five food banks.

Finally, money from the capital campaign will also go toward constructing transitional housing in Redmond.

Transitional housing provides stability for families in an area of the county with high rents and property costs, according to Hopelink.

For more information on the organization, visit www.hopelink.org.

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