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City Partners with Kappa Alpha Psi to Deliver Supplies to Unsheltered Members of Community

When members of the Seattle Alumni Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi began thinking about how to focus some of their annual community service efforts, they got an idea from a new member who shared a community need he knew of through his job with the City of Seattle.

As part of its COVID-19 response, the City had recently deployed hygiene stations to help ensure its most vulnerable residents had access to restrooms, showers and sinks—particularly as public facilities and some businesses were closed due to public health guidance.  

Philip Saunders, a member of Kappa Alpha Psi and a Deputy Division Director in the Department of Finance and Administrative Services (FAS), wondered: could there be a way to help residents experiencing homelessness?

“Philip brought to our attention that we might have an opportunity to make an immediate impact in the community we live in,” said Patrick McCain, a Seattle resident and Vice Polemarch of Kappa Alpha Psi, a global and historically African American fraternity. “With COVID, everybody is hunkering down, but these individuals don’t have the luxury of staying home and so we want to do something that can make an immediate difference in their lives.”

This Friday, July 24, members of Kappa Alpha Psi will distribute essential clothing, like socks, underwear and t-shirts, to individuals who need them at the Seattle Center. The group plans to be onsite from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., or until supplies run out.

“During this unprecedented and challenging time in our City, this is an inspiring example of how we can come together to support members of our community. No good deed is too big or too small, and I commend the generosity of Kappa Alpha Psi. I also extend my thanks to FAS Deputy Division Director Philip Saunders for representing our department and coordinating this work to provide an immediate impact to our most vulnerable residents,” said Calvin W. Goings, Director of the Finance and Administrative Services Department.

Since March, Seattle Public Utilities (SPU), Human Services Department (HSD), Seattle Parks and Recreation, and other City departments in partnership with Seattle City Council,  Public Health – Seattle & King County, and nonprofit partner Millionair Club Charity have deployed or assisted with the operations and maintenance of hygiene trailers (which include showers in addition to toilets and sinks), and hygiene stations (additional toilets and handwashing sinks) in areas of the City where individuals can be best served. 

The locations were selected due to their proximity to active encampments. All City-funded hygiene locations can be found on HSD’s interactive map.

“I’d like to express my sincere gratitude to the members of Kappa Alpha Psi for their generosity and compassion”, said Mami Hara, General Manager of Seattle Public Utilities. “People experiencing homelessness are especially vulnerable during this period of COVID-19. That’s why Seattle Public Utilities is so pleased to deploy hygiene stations and trailers during this critical time. We appreciate the partnership of other departments and Millionair Club Charity in planning and maintaining the facilities and the areas around them. We also appreciate and admire the compassion of the neighborhoods hosting these critical facilities. To date, we’ve counted more than 2,500 client showers since we deployed the trailers in mid-May.”

Once McCain and his chapter learned how they could help complement the City’s work, they put out a call to all local members for donations. Since then, they’ve been collecting essential clothing and undergarments in all sizes.

They hope their contribution not only serves those who need them, but shows goodwill and that—no matter how big or small the effort—you can give back to your community and improve the lives of those around you.

“It doesn’t have to be something earth-shattering to help your community. It could be something as small as handing someone a pack of socks or paying for someone’s lunch,” McCain said. “We tend to think we have to have a big splash to make an impact, but change comes in small chunks usually. We hope others will see this and know it takes all of us doing our part, no matter how small or big, to impact an individual’s life.”