Unpaid utility bills, unemployment, lack of health insurance, not enough food, no money for summer day camp. These are just a few of the stresses that are all too common these days as the recession lingers and takes a toll on an ever increasing number of individuals and families in Bellevue.
According to Hopelink, the Eastside's largest social service agency, requests by Bellevue residents for emergency financial assistance this winter were 49 percent higher than a year before. Local food banks reported a 50 percent in demand over last year.
To engage neighborhoods in activities that both strengthen community connections and help local families cope with the impacts of the recession, Bellevue's Neighborhood Outreach office Monday launched Neighbor Link. The program gives neighborhoods the opportunity to select a community-building activity or a community service project with city support and resources.
Neighbor Link activities include participation in "End Summer Hunger" food drives. Step-by-step directions on how to hold a drive are provided by Neighborhood Outreach staff, as are food collection bins, neighborhood banners, flyers, food pick-up and more. Already, eight neighborhoods have signed up to conduct drives.
Other opportunities include "Know Your Neighbor" programs, designed to help residents get to know their neighbors and their needs. For those impacted by the recession, networking and sharing resources with neighbors can prove invaluable. The campaign will help neighborhoods organize get-togethers and clean-ups, conduct neighborhood walking tours, put together electronic phone directories, set up emergency networks and other activities.
"Adopt-a-Cause" campaigns are another Neighbor Link activity to promote neighborhood adoptions of individual human service agencies, families in need, children's camp scholarships, pea patch plots, and other worthy causes.
Neighborhoods that participate in any Neighbor Link activity will be invited to a summer picnic on the lawn at City Hall, with musical entertainment by the Two Scoops combo and picnic fare donated by Whole Foods Market, Bellevue. In addition, neighborhoods sponsoring a project will be given a "Party-in-a-Box" to assist with their own neighborhood celebration.
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