More than $1 million raised for Hopelink
By KAITLIN GROVES
Bellevue Reporter Former staff writer
October 19, 2012 · Updated 10:33 AM
About 1,700 local philanthropists raised $1.1 million for Redmond-based HopeLink, during a fundraiser lunch at the Meydenbauer Convention Center in downtown Bellevue on Monday, Oct. 15.
Jeannette Walls, who grew up in poverty, but later found wealth and a successful career as a New York writer, told many of the same stories in her book, The Glass Castle, during the lunch.
As a 3-year-old, she caught her dress on fire while cooking hot dogs in the trailer her family was living in. She spent the next six weeks in the hospital, until her father "rescued" her by scooping her up in his arms and running away without paying the bill. He called that move, "the skedaddle," Walls said, and the whole family did it often. "We were always running away," she said, "sleeping in cars, sleeping in cardboard boxes."
Her parents had trouble accepting charity, she said, because it hurt their self-esteem so much, but she has come to believe that giving and accepting charity can be healthy for both the giver and receiver.
"The truly lucky among us are in a position to give someone a hand up," she said. "It's not just about giving people food. It's about giving them hope for the future."
Besides Walls, other speakers at the luncheon included Connie Chapin, a former HopeLink client and current board member, as well as John "Pat" Vache, the chairman of the board and Marilyn Mason-Plunkett, the president and CEO.
Several of the speakers mentioned the "changing face" of their clients, because of the changing economy. Clients now include more former managers, professionals and others who lost their jobs and have been unable to regain their footing.
HopeLink provides food, housing, family development, adult education, transportation, energy assistance and emergency financial assistance to financially struggling people in the area.