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Hopelink opens North Bend office at senior center

NORTH BEND - Until recently, Hopelink's Sno-Valley center in Carnation was one of the only places to offer need-based assistance in the Snoqualmie-North Bend area.

As of early October, Hopelink's free assistance services and programs for low-income and homeless individuals and families in need are now available twice a month locally at the Mount Si Senior Center in North Bend.

"Though it was a combination of factors, one of the biggest factors [for opening the satellite location] was that North Bend is a ways from Carnation," said Hopelink's Sno-Valley's Center manager Jennifer Filipovich, adding that the additional satellite development had been on Hopelink's plate since this summer. "North Bend will be useful for folks that live near there."

Oct. 5 served as the inaugural date of operation, providing a smooth transition and a full day of services, Filipovich said.

"They were busy all day long," said Ruth Tolmasoff, director of the Mount Si Senior Center, adding that she thinks this is a good way for Hopelink to see the need in the area and to gauge response. "It seems like a good fit."

Though the Mount Si Senior Center offers a shuttle service to those wanting transportation to the Sno-Valley center, Tolmasoff noted that "it's a process."

However, the shuttle service will continue for those needing immediate access to Hopelink services at the Sno-Valley center.

"We've always wished that it was possible to have Hopelink provide services in the Upper Valley," Tolmasoff said. "It certainly is working out so far."

Traveling to North Bend is easier for most in the local community than traveling to Carnation, especially if someone has traveling issues that may range from age or health to affording the high gas prices or not owning a vehicle, Filipovich explained.

"We're really trying to outreach to folks," Filipovich continued. "We do hope that this makes it easier to access Hopelink services."

The North Bend satellite location is run by various staff from the Sno-Valley center (one of Hopelink's six locations that also include Bellevue, Kirkland, Northshore, Redmond and Shoreline), with each staff member rotating his or her shift at the Mount Si Senior Center.

"Our responsibility is to try to meet the needs as best we can," Filipovich said. "Hopefully this will address the needs of the Upper Valley."

The Hopelink center's offerings include emergency services such as energy, utility, transportation and job assistance, as well as eviction prevention, bus tickets, gas and prescription coverage, along with access to clothing and food banks, family development programs, referrals for other services, educational resources and the Rural Connections program, which provides employment education and support for those in the Valley.

Qualification for assistance is scaled to the federal poverty level (which includes income and household size) and those with low income, explained Filipovich. Earnings may exceed poverty level, but they must fall within 185 percent of poverty (meaning that if the poverty level were $100, one could earn below that amount and up to $185 to qualify). Baseline poverty for a single person is $798 a month and $19,350 annually for a family of four. However, an individual earning about $1,500 a month or a family of four earning about $35,000 would still qualify for services.

Clients are asked to renew their information every six months to account for circumstantial changes.

Hopelink is primarily funded by public and private foundations, United Way, government support and donations. However, Filipovich said that Hopelink has applied for and received grant funding through the city of North Bend. The senior center provides the space to Hopelink free of charge.

"Everybody thinks [the satellite expansion] is really great," Tolmasoff said. "We're really delighted. It's just a wonderful opportunity for all of us."

The next date for service is Wed., Oct. 19. The Hopelink Sno-Valley satellite center is located at the Mount Si Senior Center, 411 Main Ave. S. in North Bend. Regular office hours are 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. every first and third Wednesday of the month. Appointment times are for the hours between 9 a.m. and noon; walk-ins welcome from noon to 1 p.m.

Appointments may be made by calling the Carnation Hopelink office at (425) 333-4163. The senior center will not schedule appointments. The Sno-Valley center will continue to provide services as usual. For more information, visit www.hope-link.org.

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