Edmonds Lutheran Church advocates for local schools
In September 2012, something remarkable happened. A local elementary school, which has a significantly high number of students living below the poverty line, lost critical funding to sustain a grassroots initiative developed by faculty and staff of the school.
Chase Lake Community School's Safety Net Program provides an array of services, which include emergency meals at school, clothing, school supplies, transportation for students who are experiencing homelessness, an on-site food bank, help with school work and childcare.
The Safety Net Team assists with confidential referrals while preserving the privacy and dignity of the family.
The program, which was funded by a state grant, was on the brink of disappearing when their grant money was no longer available.
Karen Nilson, Chase Lake’s principal, sent out a letter of appeal to a small group of community organizations in the neighborhood.
Edmonds Lutheran Church responded with a pledge to cover half of the annual budget of $8,000, and then invited others to do the same.
Contributions from community groups and individuals started coming in almost immediately, and within a few weeks the budget was secured for another year.
"It was quite an exhilarating experience to see such generosity and support of our neighborhood school," said Rev. Dr. Julie Josund, pastor of Edmonds Lutheran Church.
But now the school faces the same dilemma. In December of this year, their budget will be exhausted, and the Safety Net Program is in jeopardy of disappearing.
Is Edmonds Lutheran stepping up to advocate for Chase Lake again this year? "Absolutely," Dr. Josund said.
Will the community rally to sustain the program for another year? "Absolutely," Nilson said. "We have seen from the experience of last year that this community cares about its kids."
An elderly woman who lives across the street from the school walked over with a $10 donation. On a fixed income, this was what she could afford.
Another neighbor sent in $500. Together, with each giving what they could, the Safety Net Program continued for one more year.
"And now we are going to give our community the opportunity to do something remarkable again,” Dr. Josund said.
Chase Lake's approach to education is holistic and practical; children cannot learn if they are preoccupied with worries of their basic needs being met, such as food and clothing.
"Our Safety Net Program is visible evidence of a community taking care of its youngest citizens; making it possible for them to learn and grow into their hopes and dreams,” said Nilson.