Armed with a five year grant, Plateau Outreach Ministries is expanding its mission to help vulnerable populations on the Plateau.
For those not familiar with the organization, Plateau Outreach Ministries (or POM) has normally served the Enumclaw and Black Diamond area through its food bank and utility/rent assistance services.
But since 2019, POM has been able to increase its services by having staff available to help people “leverage government and non-government programs to increase their ability to pay for stable housing and basic needs,” a King County webpage reads.
In short, said Director Elisha Smith Marshall, veterans, seniors, or anyone that falls under the umbrella of a “vulnerable” or “resilient” population (physically or mentally disabled, limited or non-English speakers, low-income or homeless, etc.) can go to POM to get help securing and managing government benefits.
The money comes from the voter-approved Veterans, Seniors, and Human Services levy, which was renewed in 2018.
From this pot of money, POM was granted $236,000 total in 2019, to be spread out over five years in roughly $45,000 installments.
Most of the money — roughly $200,000 — is earmarked to be spent specifically helping seniors and veterans.
The money doesn’t go directly to these groups, though, but is spent on employing Lisa Napolitano, POM’s outreach manager, and Horacio Castillo, who speaks Spanish and English.
“One of our main goals with this levy was to be able to hire someone who was bilingual, so we can reach that part of our resilient community that we haven’t really been able to reach,” Smith-Marshall said. According to census estimates, roughly 11 percent of Enumclaw residents identify as Hispanic or Latino.
“It really lines up with our services,” Smith-Marshal continued. “It just is able to let us take what we’ve been doing in case management and take it a step farther.”
As caseworkers, Napolitano and Castillo are able to help Plateau residents with myriad services offered by the state Department of Health and Social Services. Veterans and seniors especially can get help in resourcing, applying for and retaining benefits that will increase their ability to pay for stable housing and basic needs.
“Some of the programs that we help our clients access are Social Security, Disability, Medicare, Medicaid, Assistance for the Aged Blind and Disabled, Paid Family and Medical Leave, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programs (SNAP), Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, King and Pierce County Senior and Disabled Property Tax Relief, Low Cost or Free Cell Phone Service, Housing and Essential Needs Referral Program, etc.,” Napolitano said in an email interview.
And POM does more than just point clients in the right direction — it’s all about sitting down (or rather, talking over the phone) and walking through the process for them.
“It’s this whole circle of support for a person, instead of just, ‘here’s a number. Go,’” Smith-Marshall said. “It’s step-by-step, together.”
Due to the pandemic, appointments with caseworkers are being held over the phone only.
To schedule an appointment, call 360-825-8961 and press 3. Time slots are available Monday and Thursday from 9:30 a.m to 11:30 a.m., as well as Wednesday from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Those who need to schedule an appointment outside the offered schedule can ask for special arrangements.
NOURISHING NEIGHBORS DONATION
POM also recently received $4,478 from the Safeway Foundation, which held a month-long fundraiser at the local Safeway last September.
“We’re grateful that Safeway Foundation is supporting the work we do each day to help local families start their day with a good, nutritious meal,” Elisha Smith-Marshall said in a press release. “We know that Safeway Foundation sets a high standard for its Nourishing Neighbors Breakfast for Kids grant recipients because they focus on organizations that have the greatest impact on fighting childhood hunger. We are honored to be part of that recipient group and thank Safeway Foundation, and our community who gave at the registers, for helping us continue to make a difference in the lives of local families.”
Nourishing Neighbors, a charitable program of Safeway Foundation, is designed to build awareness and raise funds in an effort to eradicate childhood hunger in America. Funds raised through Nourishing Neighbors’ Breakfast for Kids Campaign focus on adding breakfasts in and out of school through federal nutrition programs and other means to combat childhood hunger and improving other health-related outcomes.
“We know that Plateau Outreach Ministries is doing great things,” said Karl Schroeder, President of the Safeway-Albertsons Seattle Division. “It’s our pleasure to support their innovative programs and tireless commitment to the health and futures of our community’s youngest citizens.”