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Edition Date: December 18, 2006
Hopelink: Serving local needs, from food bank to Christmas gifts
by Jean Still
Contributing Writer

ImagePhoto by Jean Still

At Carnation’s Hopelink, Grandpa Bob Patterson volunteers in the Christmas gift room with daughter Laura Dockery, son-in-law Joe Dockery and granddaughter Jewell Dockery.

For 35 years Hopelink has been serving people in the Snoqualmie Valley, from the food bank to lunch bunch, to providing Christmas gifts for children.

“Hopelink does a great job with the gift room,” said Jennifer Filipovich, site manager at Carnation’s Hopelink. The community is asked to donate gifts primarily through giving tree tags. “It’s great seeing how much the community gives,” she continued.

The City of Duvall, for example, organizes all the giving trees for their businesses and organizations. North Bend Kiwanis does the same there.

Volunteers arrange the gift room by age, so that folks can choose the gift that’s best for their child. “Each child will receive approximately $50 worth of toys and clothing,” said Filipovich. They are expecting more than 150 families this year.

Hopelink has a fairly new program that serves a different group of people. People such as Anne. Diagnosed with whooping cough right after moving to the area, she turned to Hopelink for help. Her first visit was to the food bank. Through the food bank, she began to learn the process of applying for financial help. “They were real advocates for helping me feel competent and confident,” she said.

There she learned of the new program: Rural Connections.

“One of the programs that is particularly interesting and important for the folks in the valley, is Rural Connections, a job-readiness program,” said Filipovich.

They helped Anne target her job search efforts so that she was able to get a job at a local organic farm, Full Circle in Carnation. It seemed a natural fit since she had experience and a heart for the field of horticulture. But first she needed new work boots that would allow her to stand and work during a class. Rural Connections was able to fill that need.

After starting her new job at Full Circle, Anne’s pregnancy soon required she be put on bed rest. “They fit me into another position,” said Anne, that would allow her to work at home. But she would need a high speed Internet connection. She turned to Rural Connections again. “They found funding to get it,” said Anne.

Rural Connections assisted 54 clients so far this year; most were unemployed when they heard of the program. More than 38 percent of them have successfully found employment.

“Hopelink is the transition to being self-sufficient,” said Anne.

Rural Connections helped a client obtain a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) license renewal that immediately resulted in a $.50 per hour raise. Just a few months later, she was able to change jobs and secure a new position at $2.00 more per hour (plus benefits), than she had previously.

Another client, with no job, was working on his GED through Hopelink’s Adult Education program. He had never had job, did not really know what he wanted to do in the future and did not know how to go about getting a job.

The Rural Connections program coordinator worked with him, helping him build his self-confidence and recognize that he had valuable skills to contribute in the work force. The Rural Connections program coordinator helped him practice filling out applications and learn how to present himself in a professional manner, building his self-efficacy.

Through this individualized coaching, he discovered his interests and envisioned his future. He now has decided to enroll in a technical college and develop a trade that will allow him to have a successful future.

“I never quite knew what it was until I needed it,” said Anne, of Hopelink. “It’s really inspired me to give back to them, I can see how it works now.”

Hopelink also offers classes for parents, English as a second language, cooking on a budget, financial management and first time home ownership.

For more information on Rural Connections, or any of the other programs at Hopelink, contact (425) 333-4163 or