All about the info: It may be who you know, but what we know can also solve some Valley problems

How best to help people? It’s been on my mind lately, as I come across various people who, usually without saying it, are asking for help.

How best to help people? It’s been on my mind lately, as I come across various people who, usually without saying it, are asking for help.

If it’s how to spread the word about an event, I can help. If it’s more complicated, say how to get buy-in from the public on something, I can help, but it will take a lot more people, and a lot more work. There are many ways to approach a problem, and every problem can have more than one solution. I think the place to start is always information.

A couple of things have led me to this. One was the Snoqualmie Valley Winter Shelter’s letter in this week’s issue. The other was the poor telephone poll-taker I just talked with.

The shelter first: Director Jennifer Kirk’s letter touched on the numbers of men, women and other stats. A comparison of past years, from their website, has bright spots — the numbers of individuals, women and veterans served all dropped from the 2012-13 season (127 individuals, 35 women and 8 veterans) to last year’s (87 individuals, 18 women and 5 veterans); and darker spots — the number of bed nights provided has increased from 1,291 to 1,329, to this year’s 1,974, and the children count hasn’t changed much.

It suggests that at least some of the shelter’s efforts are working. Whether that can be attributed just to the shelter is another question, because just by operating in the Valley, the shelter has made more people aware of, and talk about, the homelessness issue, and awareness often leads to action.

There have also been many changes in the shelter itself, since those first planning meetings in 2012. The leadership has changed, the structure, provided by Bellevue-based Congregations for the Homeless, is more established, and the police department approaches the transient population in a much different way than the department that first began the discussion of how to help the Valley’s homeless.

Now for the poor pollster. He thought he was asking a simple question: Would I vote for some proposed measure if it were on the November ballot?

When my options are “yes” or “no” I nearly always choose “it depends.” I asked him more questions than he asked me. What does this measure do that the existing law doesn’t do? How would “funds that are  available for reinvestment in communities most affected by this measure” actually be available? What difference will it make to the average person?

I have to give the guy credit, though. He never hung up, never gave up. He may have been stubborn, but I suspect that before he could quit for the day, he had to gather a set amount of information.

 


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