How do you raise $1.1 million to fight homelessness in a single night?

Stephanie Farrell
By Stephanie Farrell

Stephanie Farrell joined Weber Thompson in 2017 and is currently part of the team working on an affordable housing development that will provide housing, daycare, community services for the northern Beacon Hill neighborhood.

Believe it or not, with the Swing Dance, the Lindy Hop, and a little bit of Tango… On the evening March 10th,Plymouth Housing Group held their ninth annual Seattle Dances! —a glitzy fundraiser that packed Fremont Studios with a sold-out crowd of over 600 guests and exceeded their one million dollar goal by a sweet $100,000, setting an all-time record for the night. The event centers around a dance competition, pairing nine local luminaries with professional dance partners from Capitol Hill’s Century Ballroom in a dance-off modeled after Dancing with the Stars.

Photo of Seattle Dances event

Photo credit: HRV Media

The celebrity dancers are local professionals, business owners, news anchors, musicians, or even Plymouth’s executive director, Paul Lambros—anyone who has the ability to fill tables with supporters that will give big to Plymouth’s cause. It takes over 80 volunteers to pull off the event, which is glamorous by Las Vegas standards and eye-poppingly swank in our land of flannel and hoodies. Weber Thompson sent a notable showing of seven volunteers, who reported for duty at 4:30pm and took various jobs that included guest registration, raffle ticket hustling, and acting as spotters during the “ask.” It was a super fun evening for people watching and our volunteers were particularly happy to see many of our other clients out in the finest to support Plymouth Housing’s work.

Photo of Weber Thompson volunteers

Weber Thompson volunteers (left to right): Susan Frieson, Noelle Galicia, Stephanie Farrell, Nicole Winn, Jeff Reibman, Erin Hatch, Carey Dagliano Holmes

With all of the glitz and glamour, it’s easy to forget that the reason for the evening is a somber one. If you’re not familiar with Plymouth Housing, they are a local non-profit that has become one of the most successful models for ending homelessness in the country. Focusing on a “housing-first” approach, they acquire properties in downtown, Capitol Hill, and First Hill and develops them into residential apartment buildings to house the chronically homeless adults in our community. Often for the first time in their lives, these individuals have not only shelter, but also wrap-around services (medical, mental health support, drug counseling, social connections, job placement) to ensure their successful transition off the street. Providing a home at Plymouth costs approximately $16,000 per year, about the same amount as one week at Harborview or three months in a King County jail.  Plymouth’s model changes lives and their 13 (soon to be 14) buildings house over 1000 people that would otherwise be on the streets of Seattle.

Paul Lambros, Executive Director of Plymouth Housing, speaking at the event. Photo credit: HRV Media

Weber Thompson is proud to work with Plymouth Housing as a client as well, providing design services for a new project at Madison and Boylston on First Hill. Plymouth Housing Group is partnering with Bellwether Housing to co-develop a former sound transit property. The project will be approximately 13 stories with Bellwether’s portion serving low wage workers and other lower income people who have been priced out of Seattle Neighborhoods and Plymouth’s portion serving seniors experiencing homelessness. It will be the first high rise with this type of programming in Seattle.

If you are interested in supporting Plymouth or getting involved there are lots of great opportunities. Check out their event’s page or you can contact them through their website. Opportunities to help can be as simple as providing a pie at Thanksgiving or as involved as strapping on your jazz shoes and dancing for dollars on the stage. With individual efforts and commitments from community-focused firms like Weber Thompson, we can put an end to homelessness in our otherwise world-class city.

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