Dori: Seattle rejected volunteer group’s offer to help with city’s ‘Day of Service’
Apr 20, 2022, 1:48 PM
The same day Mayor Bruce Harrell announced the first “One Seattle Day of Service” – inviting volunteers to a clean-city-streets-for-a-day campaign – one local organization is pretty heated after their offer to help was rejected.
Andrea Suarez, Ballard-area founder of the state-register non-profit “WeHeartSeattle.org” told The Dori Monson Show her group’s offer for the event was “rejected because we go within 20 feet of a (homeless) encampment.”
Mayor Harrell unveils sweeping volunteer initiative as part of One Seattle vision
In announcing the May 21 event on Monday, Harrell promoted “more than 2,200 volunteer opportunities across more than 80 different activities throughout all seven City Council Districts.” The day also allows anyone who owes fines to Seattle Municipal Court to pay them off.
Ready with her group’s approximately 5,000 volunteers, Suarez told Dori’s listeners that she submitted her event through the city’s registration portal.
This is what Suarez heard back from the mayor’s office:
Unfortunately, we have to respectfully decline your current offer to assist. We have a policy of not engaging in litter pickup within 20 feet of encampments and your offer does just that. Again, thank you so much for your offer.
“We do litter picks and serve every single day, picking up trash around the unhouse at the request of the unhoused while involving our unhoused,” Suarez told Dori’s listeners Tuesday. “This (city-sponsored event) is one day. We’ve been doing this every day.”
Cleanups and welfare checks are crucial to save those living on the streets, she continued.
“If I stayed back, I would have double the amount of overdoses.”
The second reason the city campaign refuses offer to allow WeHeartSeattle volunteers to pick up litter is because much of it is on hillside slopes.
“City agencies can’t go on slopes, which is precisely where the trash is,” Suarez added.
This infuriates Suarez, who says WeHeartSeattle.org is the only local city or volunteer organization willing to take on this task, Suarez told Dori’s listeners, which has resulted in collecting about “500,000 pounds of trash.”
It’s particularly insulting, she adds, that “we are not even validated by our city leadership – not even once.”
Even with the rejection, Dori asked, what’s preventing WeHeartSeattle from volunteering on May 21 anyway?
“We’re not going to stop,” Suarez told him. “We’ve never been deterred. We will concurrently run an event and do it our way.”
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Still, Dori wondered, what does Suarez believe is the real underlying reason for the rejection?
“Either you’re doing your job better than the city and they’re embarrassed,” he posited, or it’s a conflict with local unions that don’t want to see volunteers take jobs, he considered.
“Or, three: they want the trash and the squalor as a necessary step toward destroying the region because they want to rebuild it in a Marxist [fashion],” Dori offered.
“The third is the most likely,” Suarez said.
“Your motivation sounds so pure,” Dori told Suarez. “Why are you so disliked?”
“It doesn’t make any sense,” she agreed. The Ballard activist then told Dori’s listeners about recently meeting with Cecile Hansen, leader of Seattle’s Duwamish Tribe. Suarez says the great-great grand-niece of Chief Si ‘ ahl told her, “and you can quote me: `We have to work together. We have to stop this divisiveness.’”
Listen to Dori’s entire interview with WeHeartSeattle organizer Andrea Suarez below.
Listen to Dori Monson weekday afternoons from noon – 3 p.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.