I am sitting in my favorite chair looking out at a sliver of the Puget Sound. I have just cleaned up the kitchen after dinner that we shared with my son’s friend. But right now, I am listening to the boys roughhouse upstairs . I love to hear their laughter as they play. It is not always this joyful. They have their brotherly fighting moments as well. But at this moment it is all fun. Today, we have one of those wonderful fall skys that reminds me that we live in a most beautiful place. The Pacific Northwest is amazing in so many ways. It provides a stunning and rich beauty, opportunities for highly skilled work and great education. Moments like this, I feel like my life is filled with an amazing abundance. However, while we can nearly all enjoy the region’s beauty, not everyone is enriched and enjoying the same.
It would be easy to think that the best way for us to help the needy is to give to those in places far away where things are desperately awful. There are indeed profound needs in many parts of the world. But I feel called to attend to my neighbors in need. You may or may not know that the take home pay for a family in Washington State with one full-time wage earner at minimum wage ($8.67) is $1502.80 per month. While that is far more than what the average worker in Coast D’Ivoire, that does not do much in our much more expensive economy. The average rent for a 1-bedroom apartment in South Seattle in low-income housing is $600-$900 per month. Of course many choose to sleep in tents in the woods of the East ridge in my neighborhood in West Seattle, or other tent camps throughout the city. It is so easy to forget they are there. But then we read in Matthew 25:31-46 that we are to see those around us in need…and act.
My best friend recently adopted a beautiful baby boy, Ekstrom. I have seen the beatific smile on the face of his grandmother’s face when they shared a moment together. This boy is surrounded by love and joy. But babies are not always easy to live with. A couple weeks after Ekstrom joined the Anderson family, I dropped by for a very quick visit. Bernie was clearly doing very well under the circumstances, but also clearly needing sleep. I also remembered the conversation Gene, my husband and I had after a fight when my son was a baby and we hadn’t slept when we decided we were not cut out for the lack of sleep thing.
Back to my neighbors that aren’t sharing in the abundance. If this family has a baby, the cost of diapers – assuming they are using them, is $80 to $115 per month. Food stamps do not cover diapers and most child care centers require the use of disposable diapers. Some parents resort to cleaning out and reusing soiled diapers or choose between diapers and food. Think about it…a baby in a dirty diaper cries long and hard until getting changed. I know my marriage would have been tried to the limit under just that stress alone!
“And he has given us this command; Whoever loves God must also love his brother.” How can I help? Well, there are several excellent organizations that help folks get these basic needs met. One of them is WestSide Baby. This organization serves Western Washington through 90 local community partners such as food banks in several King County neighborhoods, multiple Neighborhood House and the YMCA among 90 total agencies. They distribute diapers, cribs, pull-ups, strollers, car seats and much more to low income families. They need volunteers for a wide variety of tasks such as sorting, order fulfillment and event support. They have opportunities for groups to volunteer. Are you interested? Would you like to help families in the greater King County area? If so, let me know. Share your conviction.
To learn more about WestSide Baby CLICK HERE.