By Marilyn Littlejohn

We all know people who could use some help – whether they are living at or near poverty, have substance use problems, or are struggling with any number of life’s other responsibilities and challenges. They could be a neighbor, a parent or grandparent, a co-worker, a childcare worker or store clerk – just people like you and me. Everyone could use a little help at some point in their lives, including the strong and independent.

The Burien Community Resource Center provides anyone in the community with easy access to a host of services. Following are a few of the services at the center that you might not be aware of. 

The Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs (WDVA) works with military service members and their families in several ways. Locally, it has a number of services for veterans struggling with housing issues (e.g., Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program, Veterans Transitional Housing Program and the Incarcerated Veterans Reintegration Program).  Its services include:

    • Providing referrals to shelters, transitional housing, or housing programs
    • Connecting veterans to VA benefits
    • Helping veterans who are currently or recently incarcerated find work and housing
    • Connecting individuals with PTSD to counseling resources

In other words, they work with folks to help achieve more stability and accomplish more of their own goals.

The “Smiths” are one such family WDVA helped. A naval veteran, his wife, and two children (under 3 years old) faced many challenges – homelessness, sleeping in their car, in need of a sustainable job, and one child diagnosed with autism. Yet, a couple of months after entering the Military Family Outreach program, they were housed. The outreach program helped the parents get the documents they needed for a housing voucher and connected them with another organization (Supportive Services for Veteran Families), which helped them find and move into a suitable apartment.  The program also helped the family pay for gas so they could get to job interviews and medical appointments. Today, the family lives in a stable, warm apartment and has full-time work.

Cathi Geisler with WDVA Military Family Outreach says, “We never send anyone away – although we cannot give everyone the same type of help, we look at their unique story and see what resources and referrals we can provide them. I’m grateful to work for a program that can help veterans and their families in practical ways. Whether it is gas money, advocacy with another provider or resource, or just someone who will check in with you and offer you some hope – we are here to help.” 

Sound Generations (previously known as Senior Services) has been serving older adults and adults with disabilities in King County for more than 50 years. Its programs include food security, health and wellness, and transportation.

The organization’s Hyde Shuttle – Burien-Highline provides door-to-door van service, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., for older adults and adults living with disabilities in our community. It’s available to those who need transportation to meal programs, medical appointments, grocery stores and other local destinations.

For a more personalized transportation service to and from medical, dental and other health-related appointments, Sound Generations also offers a Volunteer Transportation service. Volunteers use their personal vehicles to pick up clients from their homes and take them to their appointment, then wait the duration of the appointment and return the client home.  This service is available to people who need it temporarily, for surgeries or physical therapy, as well as on a regular basis. Terra is one senior who has been using the service for several years.  She is 76 years old, and due to worsening vision, no longer drives.  She says: 

“I hate being unable to drive, but Sound Generations lets me feel sure I can get [to my appointments]…Sound [Generations] allows my spouse to feel safe leaving me alone.  She doesn’t have to work from home or use up her vacation days to [take me to appointments], giving us both more freedom.”  

Volunteer Transportation takes ride requests up to a year in advance. Appointment requests must be submitted to the program by 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, the week prior to the appointment.  No registration or paperwork is necessary.

Smart Talent is an employment agency that specializes in office, customer service, labor and professional placements. If you are looking to take a step up in your career, achieve more flexibility in your life, or learn new skills to enter or re-enter the workforce, this organization can help you. Erin Juengling, a regional recruitment and operations manager for the agency provides an example of how they help people improve their careers. “Darrell completed a couple of short assignments for us until we were able to submit him to a client for a temp-to-hire position. He had a hard time finding the right fit before coming to us, but we were able to write a resume and schedule an in-person interview that resulted in permanent work for him.”  Smart Talent strives to assist individuals with “a quicker search and a more satisfying career choice.”

Come check out these and other service providers any Monday, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 noon at the Burien Community Resource Center located at the Burien Community Center, 14700 6th Ave SW, Burien. The community resource center is a partnership between King County District Court and the City of Burien.

Marilyn Littlejohn is a community court coordinator with King County District Court. Among other things, she has done community & intergovernmental relations for the City of Seattle Human Services Department, as well as managed its Domestic & Sexual Violence Prevention Office, and worked for the Refugee Women’s Alliance (ReWA) in the adult education, employment training and naturalization programs.