This is a sponsored conversation on behalf of Comcast. However, all thoughts and opinions expressed are solely my own.
I love Seattle; The majestic mountains, the lush green landscapes, the water on all sides of us, and yes, even the weather. But, what I don’t love is the rampant homelessness that plagues the area. As long as I can remember, our freeway off ramps have been filled with homeless camps, the alleys have been makeshift shelters from wind and cold, and any available covered space has been taken over by tent cities that line the 1-5 corridor. It’s heartbreaking to think of people living that way, especially as our weather quickly takes a turn and gets cold and wet over the winter.
For me, the idea of homelessness isn’t an abstract problem. I’ve known many homeless families throughout the years – including some single moms who were taken in by friends and family, some families who lived in cars in parking lots, students at my children’s school, and even some who called a beat up old tent “home” for months. All of their stories are different, but each one is just as heartbreaking as the last.
I don’t want to talk about fault and point fingers over why the problem here in Seattle got to where it is, because that seems highly subjective and usually is rooted in your political views. But, if you’ve got solutions? I am all ears, and I will be one of the first to jump in and help.
Comcast has solutions, and they just unveiled them as part of their Neighborhood Season of Giving campaign. Comcast Washington Region Vice President Amy Lynch announced that in a partnership with Mary’s Place here in Seattle, Comcast is helping close the digital divide for women and families experiencing homelessness. Since access to the internet, technology and computer training is so critical for securing employment and housing, Comcast is giving a $250,000 contribution to support Mary’s Place.The money Comcast is giving will support technology resources, job readiness and digital skills training for women and families at Mary’s Place emergency family shelters. This will cover things such as the development of a computer lab, new laptops to facilitate digital literacy, and coding classes taught by technology volunteers. The contribution will also provide Mary’s Place with internet connectivity and technology to equip shelters with the much-needed resources to help residents move into stable housing.
And, as I said, Seattle winter is fast approaching. If you’ve ever experienced a Seattle winter, you know that what we lack in snow we make up for with cold and damp weather, and getting to and from work, school, and more in the cold of winter without cold weather gear is brutal.
To help those who have limited ability to buy coats and other cold weather clothing, Comcast Washington is announcing a Neighborhood Season of Giving campaign at its new Xfinity Northgate Mall retail store to support Mary’s Place. The winter clothing drive is organized by the Comcast’s Women’s Network and Young Professional employee resource groups and it kicked off by donating more than 50 bags and boxes of clothes on Monday that Mary’s Place Executive Director Marty Hartman was there to accept on behalf of Mary’s Place.
I was there to donate a few bags of clothing as well and then we helped load up a truck to take the bags right to Mary’s Place where they can go to families who need the most. I started by shopping for some new socks and under layers to donate, and then I decided to check my own closet. A quick glance down the list of most needed items on the Mary’s Place website got me inspired and I realized quickly that I could spare quite a few items in each category. In the end, my closet looked better, my bags were full, and I was so excited to see my donation was met with huge smiles and grateful thank-yous.
How can you help out?
Comcast has set up donation bins in the Northgate Mall Xfinity store and they are asking local residents to share any winter clothing donations they have. You can stop into the Northgate Mall Xfinity store and drop off your warm clothing, winter coats, interview clothing items, warm socks and more and Comcast will take them directly to Mary’s Place to help families.
Where: Comcast Xfinity Retail Store at Northgate Mall: 401 NE Northgate Way, #400A, Seattle, WA 98125, located between Macy’s and Red Robin.
What: Winter clothing drive to support Mary’s Place emergency family shelters
When: Between December 3 and January 6, 2019
The contribution to Mary’s Place is a part of Comcast’s commitment to connect communities to the Internet through its Internet Essentials program – the largest and most comprehensive broadband adoption program for low-income families in the United States. Internet Essentials has connected over 260,000 low-income Washington residents to the internet, including more than 100,000 in King County alone.
I wrote about Internet Essentials last month, sharing how Comcast provides low-cost high-speed Internet service for $9.95/mo plus tax to families in need. They also offer the option to purchase an Internet-ready computer for under $150, which makes owning a computer and staying connected to the internet so much more affordable to those families it serves. And, they even offer multiple ways to access FREE digital literacy training in print, online and in person.This is just a portion of Comcast’s commitment to take on the digital divide and connect communities to the Internet, and I was so excited hearing representatives from Comcast share hopes and dreams for how the program can eventually grow to include every at-risk group. From young kids, to the elderly, to veterans and the homeless, their goal is to close the digital divide here in Seattle.
It made me so happy hearing that there are so many people spending their days and nights to give back to the Seattle community in such a big way, and I’m so thrilled to be included even on a smaller scale to do what I can for our amazing city. With this new partnership with Mary’s Place, it gives me renewed hope for helping to combat the homelessness that we see throughout the area.