Local Hopelink to close up shop
June 22, 2009 · Updated 6:14 PM
“Our big thing is making sure that the community understands we are still there to serve them,” said Hopelink Chief Operating Officer Mark Pereboom.
Serving clients in Bothell, Kenmore and Woodinville, the Northshore Hopelink location at 18220 96th Ave., N.E., Bothell, will hold its last food-bank days in the third week of July.
During the last week in July, the Northshore Hopelink will close up shop and move to a new 18,700-square-foot location in the Totem Lake neighborhood of Kirkland.
Hopelink Kirkland/Northshore should have a “soft” opening Aug. 3.
Situated at 11011 120th Ave., N.E., the new Hopelink center will consolidate the Northshore and Kirkland Hopelink offices. The center also will house adult education, literacy and employment programs, transplanted from the Bellevue Hopelink.
Both Pereboom and other Hopelink officials say the move will be a positive one for clients and volunteers, affording the organization more space for more services and, at least in the case of the Northshore center, providing newer, more modern surroundings.
“I actually think people will be excited about our new location and our new food-bank model,” said Teresea Andrade, manager of the Northshore Hopelink.
In explaining the reason for the upcoming move, Pereboom and others said leases on the Bothell and Kirkland Hopelink locations were about to expire. Further, the city of Bothell steadily is moving forward with designs for the rebuilding and expansion of its downtown, adding along Bothell Way Northeast on property that stretches west to include the Hopelink building.
“This building isn’t in any of the drawings,” noted Rus Sudakov, Northshore’s food-bank coordinator.
The Northshore location actually launched Hopelink as an organization. Bothell has leased the building to the organization, which now has centers in six cities, for $1 annually for roughly 35 years, according to Pereboom.
“They basically donated the building,” Pereboom said.
Still, Andrade and Sudakov both indicated the building has seen better days. The food-bank space once served as an auditorium, complete with a stage. Volunteers used to have to stash food-bank items under that stage when the auditorium was put to other uses.
“It wasn’t exactly built for our purposes,” Sudakov said. “It’s been a bear to work with.”
Pereboom and Andrade both said the new food bank will resemble a grocery store, complete with a check-out line. Instead of arriving and being handed a bag of groceries, Pereboom said clients will be able to pick out their own foodstuffs.
“Not everybody goes for green beans,” he said.
The new location also allows for greatly increased food-bank hours, Sudakov said. The Northshore food bank operated a maximum of five hours a week; the combined facility will be open 25 hours each week.
The Northshore food bank currently serves about 500 families, while the Kirkland location takes care of roughly 450. Both had reached capacity just as the current economic crisis is driving up demand, Pereboom said.
Andrade talked a lot about consolidation of services, saying Northshore residents now will have much more convenient access to Hopelink’s adult-education programs. She said a key to the move was getting early notice out to Hopelink’s clients. Those letters were mailed recently, but Andrade said she had received only one complaint call, actually from a volunteer group worried about logistics.
Pereboom said after Hopelink leaders met with the church group, the latter is now fully behind the relocation. He added a study done by the city of Kirkland showed the new location is in the center of Hopelink’s constellation of clients.
While Pereboom is confident Hopelink’s clients will follow them to the new location, Andrade said the organization clearly needs its volunteers to tag along, as well. Because of the increase in size, hours and the change in operating model, the food bank will need more volunteers. Andrade said Hopelink also is looking for moving help, though she prefers groups, not individuals, volunteer for that duty.
Clients or volunteers can call Hopelink at (425) 485-6521.