Shambhala's Mark Everard prepares woodwork for painting.
The Seattle Shambhala Center recently launched a new social action group, called Awake in Action, with the goal of integrating meditation practice with active engagement in community service and activism. Awake in Action’s first projects included a collection of cold weather gear for Real Change, Seattle’s poverty and homelessness action newspaper, and a food drive to benefit Northwest Harvest. The food drive was combined with a work party at the Cherry Street food bank.
For the group’s next effort, AiA decided to undertake a small project on behalf of Downtown Emergency Service Center (DESC). Here’s how it happened.
At the initial AiA organizing meeting, homelessness was one of the top two issues of interest for the group as a whole. One of AiA’s members already had a volunteer connection to DESC, an agency that provides emergency shelter, mental health care, addiction treatment, and supportive housing for over 6000 men and women each year. The Union Hotel, located in the Pioneer Square area of downtown Seattle, is DESC’s earliest supportive housing building. Opened in 1994, it provides safe, affordable housing for 52 formerly homeless disabled men and women. But it’s an old building and is in need of painting and other maintenance and TLC.
"Awake in Action" workers, from left: Mark Everard, Carol Horowitz, Sandra Noel, Mike Mayer, Joan Loeken, Mark Helsel.
The AiA group was invited to spend a few hours at the Union helping to sand and then wash down doors, door frames, and other wood molding and trim on one of the residential floors, to prepare for painting. Under the guidance of Janelle Rothfolk from DESC, six members of AiA spent about three hours at the Union on Sunday, March 22 doing just that.
Janelle also gave AiA group members an orientation, including a look at the kitchen garden maintained by the residents. AiA will be exploring whether the group might deepen their connection to DESC and the Union Hotel in the months to come.