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Celebrating Human Services Innovation and Healthy Aging

The Seattle Human Services Department (HSD) is on a mission to connect people with resources and solutions during times of need so we can all live, learn, work, and take part in strong, healthy communities.

Kinship caregiver Linda Johnson displays her new sewing bag. (Threads of Change)

In 2017, the Seattle Human Services Department (HSD) launched an Innovation Fund that awarded $225,000 in small grants to 12 community organizations who envisioned new and creative ways to address the department’s mission and at least one of its six key platforms:

  1. Preparing Youth for Success
  2. Supporting Affordability and Livability
  3. Addressing Homelessness
  4. Promoting Public Health
  5. Responding to Gender-Based Violence
  6. Promoting Healthy Aging

Sewing brings people together. (Threads of Change)

To support the inaugural year of the Age Friendly Seattle initiative, HSD committed $125,000 of its 2017 Innovation Fund to organizations that promoted the sixth impact area—Promoting Health Aging—and at least one of The 8 Domains of Livability that provides the framework for age-friendly communities.

“The fund was created to test new ideas in human service delivery,” said Cathy Knight, director of the department’s Aging and Disability Services division. “A little bit of seed money went a long way. We were delighted by the projects that received funding. Now we look forward to celebrating their success.”

API Chaya, Eritrean Association of Greater Seattle, Latino Community Fund of Washington State, National Asian Pacific Center on Aging, Tilth Alliance, UW Health Promotion Research Center, and Women United received funding to support healthy aging projects. These are described in Seattle Human Services Department Supports Age Friendly Community Projects (AgeWise King County, September 2017).

Click on the image above to open your invitation to the Innovation Fund Community Celebration on Friday, April 13, 2018.

Organizations that received the remainder of the funding were the East African Community Services-Saturday Math Academy, Multicultural Community Center Coalition-Shared Service Model, Real Change Homeless Empowerment Project-Resource Guide, Somali Family Safety Task Force-Breaking the Silence, and Mercy Housing Northwest-Accessible Primary Care for the Somali Community.

The Seattle Human Services Departments, all 12 awardees, and friends will celebrate community-driven innovations on Friday, April 13, 2018 (5–8 p.m.) at the Northwest African American Museum. To RSVP for the celebration or get more information, e-mail Dominique Stephens at

Photo credit: Photos in this article were provided by Alesia D. Cannady, Women United.

Kinship Caregivers Journey

Women United’s project—Threads of Change—used their Innovation Fund award to offer sewing classes that connected low-income women and women of color to each other and to kinship care resources.

“A grandmother up late one night, contemplating what she can do to enhance the lives of other grandmothers who had buried their passion, too.

How do I do this, and where do I start? I really want to do this because it’s deep in my heart.

As I sat at my computer, an e-mail came into sight. It read City of Seattle Innovation Fund and my eyes lit up like lights.

I never applied for a grant before, I didn’t know where to begin. I reached out to my mentor and a very close friend.

I was encouraged to apply for the grant, and I knew it was for me. All I had to do was believe in my passion and follow my heartfelt dream.

Women United Threads of Change is what the program is named. We teach kinship caregivers to sew and ignite a snuffed-out flame.

I submitted my application with faith from the start. This was my time to share with the world what was buried in my heart.

I was notified I was a finalist for the Fund. This was the start of a wonderful journey in which I was selected to play a part.

My interview was scheduled. I was the last one that day. I didn’t need to think about what I would say.

My story rolled off my tongue like lyrics to a beautiful song. It was my mother’s life I shared, as her caregiver, and the things she had never done.

The Innovation Fund impacted my life and the lives of other women whose kinship caregiver journeys have now begun.”

                                          —by Alesia D. Cannady, President, Women United