Prevent Homelessness

United Churches Emergency Fund

Clara Nancy Hsu has a B.S. in mechanical engi- neering from the University of Washington and is currently working at Boeing, with 21 years engi- neering work experience. In the middle of those years, 2005, Clara also earned a teaching certifi- cate endorsement in Secondary School Mathe- matics from Central Washington University. She has two daughters and a son, ages 26, 18, and 22.

In her spare time, she follows current local and national issues, enjoys reading, hiking, tennis, foreign films, playing the piano, attending concerts, cooking and gardening, and also enjoys running half marathons and the “goofier” 5K fun runs :-) with friends!

“There are so many areas and issues that need support -- the environment, the underprivileged, justice issues -- it was overwhelming. Finally a small notice of UCEF in my church bulletin caught my eye -- rather serendipitously -- and UCEF quickly felt like a need I could dive into.”

United Churches Emergency Fund,
4515 16th Ave. NE, Seattle WA 98115.
 UCEF is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. Your donation is tax-deductible. Please consider an online donation through our website. Thank you.

UCEF Board of Directors: Jan Orlando and Lynn Williams, co-chairs; Randall Lucas, treasurer;  Jessica Escott, Clara Hsu, and Andy Tischaefer .
Executive Director: Jo Gustafson. Bookkeeper: Sue Takano. Consultant: Melissa Morrell.
Newsletters: Fred Lackmann, Julien Parry.
Office Volunteers:
Fred Lackmann, Louise McAllister, Melissa Morrell, Julien Parry, Lynn, Pulliam,
Greg Turner.

We believe everyone deserves a home. UCEF helps prevent homelessness by providing rent and utility help to people in the 98103, 98105, 98115 and 98125 zip codes. We also offer compassionate listening and referrals to other agencies that may help. In addition, we provide bus tickets, hygiene items, snack lunches and other items to homeless people and others in need.

UCEF Receives Grant From University- Ballard Lions Club

On Oct. 17 I was happy to represent UCEF at the monthly meeting of the University-Ballard Lions Club, at which UCEF received a check for $6,000. This check was all the more exciting, as we had gone out on a limb and increased our grant request from $3,000, which we had asked for the previous year, to $5.000 -- only to have the club decide to give us even more money.

​As I accepted the check, I thanked the club members for their dedication to our cause and explained how many people are living at the edge of homelessness. “Our focus is helping prevent homelessness," I said.. "There are so many people who are one bad month away from being evict- ed. People can find themselves on the street for the want of only a very small amount of money. To get back into housing can cost thousands; between first and last month’s rent and move-in expenses, it can feel impossible to get back on your feet. UCEF helps stop a bad month from turning into a bad year on the street.”

 Many thanks to the University-Ballard Lions Club for its support!!

-- Melissa Morrell, UCEF volunteer

Good Music, a Good Cause – and a New Location

The Rain City Symphony is a non-profit orchestra dedicated to nurturing the appreciation of music. We at UCEF are grateful for their support over the past several years: All proceeds from the symphony’s annual pre-Christmas concert go to benefit UCEF.

This year’s concert will be held at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 28, at Seattle Mennonite Church, 3120 NE 125th St. in Lake City. This will be a new venue for this annual event, and we at UCEF are grateful to SMC for making their building available.

The program will feature music by Ferdinand Thieriot, Johann Sebastian Bach and Georges Bizet. Ad- mission is free, but voluntary donations to help UCEF will be appreciated.

The Rain City Symphony provides amateur musicians with orchestral experience in a supportive at- mosphere. Dr. Teresa Metzger Howe is conductor. For more information, see

The Seattle Mennonite Church offers many programs to meet homelessness and other social needs in Northeast Seattle – for example, daily drop-in hours when people can use laundry facilities, showers and hygiene facilities, kitchen, internet and phone service, resource referral, food closet, nursing care, personal storage, blankets and clothes. Seattle University nursing students have volun- teered with the church for years as a learning environment.

The Lake City Task Force on Homelessness meets regularly at the church to share insights on ways to address homelessness in the Lake City area. The congregation also works with the Community Ministers organization, which offers spiritual care and referral for homeless people.

There is plenty of parking in the lot behind the church, and there is evening parking along Northeast 125th Street.

We hope you will put this musical event on your holiday calendar. We consider it “good music for a good cause.”

Andy Tischaefer has lived in the Seattle area for over 20 years with his wife Shana and their two children -- a daughter finishing grade school and a son who just started high school. Andy works for Microsoft as an engineering manager in the Office division. He and his family are active in their local community and in their church, Sammamish Hills Lutheran. Though he currently resides on the East Side, he has a great love for Seattle and all of its quirks, and spends a lot of time in and around the city. He is a supporter and patron of a lot of local causes in the arts and sciences.

​For the past year, Andy and his wife have been talking about how they can best do their part to help with the homelessness crisis affecting the area. When a former co-worker, Melissa, told Andy about UCEF and that they were looking for board members, the opportunity to serve was clear. He is excited by UCEFs mission, the passion of its volunteers and director, and is ready to play his part

Helping People Get Through That 'Funny Month'
By Melissa Morrell, UCEF consultant

I am a volunteer at a very small non-profit in the University District called UCEF. UCEF was founded by a group of churches in the University District in 1986 to help with the influx of people in financial need affected by layoffs at Boeing and the like. UCEF continues to help people in North Seattle deal with what one recent client coined “that funny month” when the bills were greater than her bank account, forcing her to decide between eating and pay- ing her rent.

It is in moments like these that people can go from having a bad month to having a very terrible year when they find themselves on the street, homeless.

Every day that I volunteer at UCEF, I meet people who have an apartment, have a source of income, often a job, and yet find themselves in need, often with exorbitant rents and utility bills, most of the time for the first time in their lives. I get to help them.

If they end up on the street, it will be much more expensive (every homeless person costs each taxpayer more than $62,000 a year) to get them back into housing and on their feet than it would have been to keep them in the housing they already have, not to mention the mental anguish and lack of safety that come from living on the street. For many, they are just one “funny month” from becoming homeless.

From our tiny office in the basement of University Congregational Church, volunteers like me help people in crisis navigate through various non-profits like ours that match our funds if not do better (such as St. Vincent de Paul, Salvation Army, North Helpline and others) to cobble together enough money to get their rent paid.

We call landlords and utility companies to confirm that they will accept our money ($150 per family once a year is all we can currently give) and if they will, a check gets written and sent directly to the landlord or utility to cover the bill, with the hope that our client can stay in their home for another month.

We see people from all backgrounds, all ethnicities and creeds – and we pass no judg- ment on them. While it may seem like a small amount, it is often such small amounts that are the difference between having the rent covered and being evicted.

Last week I helped a woman named Stephanie. She had lost a job at the end of September but had just gotten another one – as a security guard at a tech giant which included three meals a day! – but here she was in the “funny month” between jobs and paychecks. With her lease and ID in hand, we were able to contact her landlord and contribute to her rent. It did- n’t cover the whole thing, but as Stephanie said, “Every little bit helps,” and she now has an appointment with St. Vincent de Paul to see about the rest. I wish her well.

While UCEF is tiny, the impact we can have can be huge. We don’t help the homeless (except with bus tickets, snack packs and hygiene kits), but we do try to keep people from experiencing the devastation that becoming homeless brings.

November 2018 Newsletter

Donation Match Alert!

An anonymous donor is giving UCEF a holiday gift by committing to match up to $3,500 for dona- tions made through the end of this year. All donations received between now and Dec. 31 will be doubled thanks to our anonymous donor, so please take advantage of this opportunity to give! At a time when housing prices remain deeply unaffordable, your donation makes a big difference in helping our friends and neighbors stay housed. We greatly appreciate every contribution received; every cent helps UCEF provide vital homelessness prevention services. There are two ways to contribute: Online at Or send a check using the enclosed envelope. Thank you!

UCEF Welcomes New Board Members

A Versatile New Volunteer

Julien Parry is a new volunteer with UCEF, serv- ing as a client interviewer, updater for our web site, producer of our newsletter, and a few oth- er technical things. For paid work, they are the parish administrator at Christ Episcopal Church, and they dog-sit on the side. Julien is a semi- recent college graduate with a degree in an- thropology from the University of Puget Sound. Before starting the parish administrator posi- tion a year ago, they worked for Lifelong AIDS Alliance and the Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness, with some summers of Alaskan salmon processing in between. 

As a child, Julien experienced homelessness, during which their family was taken care of by people in their community. They believe that being a decent person involves using the re- sources you have to help people in need in your community and beyond. One resource that everyone has is time, and they've been using some of their time for volunteering in various ways for the past decade or so. Julien began volunteering with UCEF because helping to 
prevent homelessness is a good use of resources.