Queen Latifah headlines Hopelink’s Reaching Out luncheon Oct. 21. From left: Queen Latifah, luncheon chairs Lynne Varner and Paul Hollie, and Hopelink CEO Lauren Thomas. Madison Miller/staff photo

Queen Latifah headlines Hopelink’s Reaching Out luncheon Oct. 21. From left: Queen Latifah, luncheon chairs Lynne Varner and Paul Hollie, and Hopelink CEO Lauren Thomas. Madison Miller/staff photo

Queen Latifah headlines Hopelink’s annual fundraiser

Hopelink raised about $1.15 million at the annual fundraiser.

Cathy Powers was on the brink of homelessness with her two young sons. She was a college graduate, a business owner, a former U.S. Army officer, a homeowner and a working mom.

And then everything changed. Seemingly overnight, she was unemployed. She had a failed business, a failed marriage and her Duvall home was heading to foreclosure.

“It was one of the most stressful times in my life,” Powers said. “The foreclosure process is scary. You don’t know where your kids are going to live.”

She turned to Hopelink for help.

She used Hopelink’s food bank. It was there she learned of Hopelink’s other services, including financial advising, computer courses, vehicle ownership programs, employment advising and housing services —to name a few.

The relief was unimaginable when she signed the paperwork for an apartment in Duvall.

“I can house my kids,” she said. “I have a place to cook meals for them. I thought, ‘We might be OK.’”

Powers and her two sons were the first family to move into Hopelink’s permanent supportive housing in Duvall. They were safe and secure, and both boys were able to continue in the same school.

Powers and her sons are just a few of the thousands of people and families Hopelink serves every year.

The organization recently held its 24th annual Reaching Out benefit luncheon on Oct. 21 at Bellevue’s Meydenbauer Center.

The luncheon is the Redmond-based social services agency’s largest annual fundraising event. Last year’s luncheon raised nearly $1 million to provide food, shelter, family development and job readiness skills for homeless and low-income families, children, seniors and people with disabilities in north and east King County.

A special guest was invited to this year’s luncheon. Rapper and actress Queen Latifah announced plans to build affordable housing in a community near her hometown of Newark, New Jersey. The affordable housing project will include multi-family townhomes and apartments priced according to income. The $14 million project also will include commercial space to be rented by nonprofit organizations.

Latifah said she doesn’t think people talk about poverty as much as they should.

“We have a lot of people who are living in poverty. They may have a job, but they don’t make enough to really be able to afford to lift their families up out of poverty…They need more resources, they need help,” she said. “One bad relationship, one rough night, and you’d be in your car. And it’s just something that I can relate to.”

Latifah said she experienced rough times when she was growing up. Her family accepted government assistance while her parents were getting back on their feet.

“I was helped as a result of someone extending that branch to my family. And it happened several times throughout my life that would help in certain ways. So I just feel like it’s important that we don’t forget that in this very rich country of ours,” she said.

Latifah said she admires the work Hopelink does and hopes it continues to be a valuable resource for all people struggling in the area.

The Reaching Out luncheon typically raises about $1 million each year. This year, Hopelink raised about $1.15 million.

To learn more about Hopelink, visit www.hopelink.org.

Reaching Out luncheon co-chairs, Lynne Varner and Paul Hollie, introduce Queen Latifah at the Oct. 21 event. Madison Miller/staff photo

Reaching Out luncheon co-chairs, Lynne Varner and Paul Hollie, introduce Queen Latifah at the Oct. 21 event. Madison Miller/staff photo

Cathy Powers shares her story of her and her family’s life-changing experience through Hopelink at the 24th annual Reaching Out luncheon. Madison Miller/staff photo

Cathy Powers shares her story of her and her family’s life-changing experience through Hopelink at the 24th annual Reaching Out luncheon. Madison Miller/staff photo

Madison Miller/staff photo 
                                Queen Latifah discusses how poverty should be talked about more at the 24th annual Reaching Out luncheon with co-chairs Lynne Varner and Paul Hollie.

Madison Miller/staff photo Queen Latifah discusses how poverty should be talked about more at the 24th annual Reaching Out luncheon with co-chairs Lynne Varner and Paul Hollie.

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