On Thursday, November 12, we held our largest event to date, Stipend Life. This event was wildly successful, and we could not have done it without the help and gracious support of fellow AmeriCorps members, alumni, and service-minded leaders.
On a typical rainy day in Seattle, Board members arrived early with service providers, to ensure that the room was set up and ready. Thank you to the Seattle Public Library, ORCA Lift, Bike Works, and the Utility Discount Program for being present at our event!
AmeriCorps members and allies quickly filled the room at City Hall for the much awaited Stipend Life event. Ryan, Board Chair, put his chef hat on that evening, and served a colorful taco bar, complete with fresh veggies and salsa, as well as vegan/vegetarian and gluten-free options. After taking the time to socialize and eat some free food, guests settled down in their seats to listen to John Stovall, Advisory Council member, welcome and present our speakers.
First to speak was Service Projects Chair, Alyssa Henry. She spoke about her experience in finding alternative forms of affordable housing in Seattle. She shared with us her story about how she used Care.com to find side work that would supplement her income, without having to commit to a part-time job. It was also useful for her to find pet and house sitting opportunities, so that she could live closer to her placement site. She would use it occasionally to get away from her crowded or unhappy housing situation as mini-vacations. She also used Craigslist to find part time jobs, temporary housing and pet/house sitting opportunities.
After Alyssa, we welcomed Cassie, Board Secretary, to speak about transportation. She talked about her experience as a VISTA working in transportation, and her discovery of the various resources that are available. She spoke about how you can get creative to make your commute fun – reading, podcasts, conversation, writing, etc. She also informed us about ORCA Lift, a reduced fare for low-income individuals.
Maddie, Social Events Chair, spoke about resources for living healthy on the stipend. She shared that the YMCA has reduced rates for AmeriCorps members, which is often income based. There are also donation based yoga classes, and gyms farther from the city that are cheaper. She talked about her experience “gym hopping”, where she took advantage of the first free memberships that are typically promoted, and also reduced membership options. If you are into sports, or interested in meeting new people, Meetup.com has running, soccer, Frisbee and softball clubs (the list goes on!). Then, she reminded us that self-care is important. There are mental health therapists in Seattle that are income based, or sliding scale. Be sure to take some time to treat yourself.
Then, we welcomed Ryan, who spoke about resources for health food and cooking on the stipend. He reminded everyone that you are likely able to qualify for food assistance, such as SNAP. There are perks to this program, one called Fresh Bucks, where your dollars are doubled at the Farmer’s Markets. He said that he volunteers at a food bank so that he feels he is giving back when he needs to use their services. If you freeze certain foods and plan your meals, your food will last longer. He also urged members to think seasonally when buying food. For example, Brussels sprouts are in season, but strawberries are not. Buying food seasonally will reduce your grocery bill significantly!
We opened the floor to other resources that people know about. Members mentioned that Freecycle and Buy Nothing are great options to find housewares and furniture on the stipend. There are two hiking stores, 2nd Base and Second Ascent, who offer reduced and used hiking gear.
Overall, the event was a success! Everyone who attended learned something new, and intends to use this information to make living on the stipend a little easier. More than 5 people received information for or signed up for assistance at the event. Nearly everyone who attended said that it was their first event with Seattle AmeriCorps Collaborative. Special thanks to our individual donors and sponsors who made this all possible.
Do you have a resource you want to share? Do you have ideas for our next event? Tell us about it! Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
OUR MISSION is to ensure that every AmeriCorps member’s year of service is as fulfilling and impactful as possible; leveraging the talents, knowledge and resources of a connected and service minded community.