Seattle nonprofits get a helping hand in quake relief

Fund aids those hit hard financially by damage


SEATTLE - For Seattle's nonprofit agencies, many of them providing services on shoestring budgets, the recent earthquake was more than a natural disaster - it was a financial calamity.

The Feb. 28 quake caused an estimated $18.8 million damage to 28 nonprofit agencies, according to a survey by the Seattle Foundation and United Way of King County.

For many, the earthquake meant red-tag closures of buildings that had provided the homeless and poor with meals, beds, social services and a place to shower and shave or do laundry.

But businesses, foundations and even a high school in Japan have risen to the occasion, donating almost $500,000 to an Earthquake Recovery Fund established at the Seattle Foundation. Yesterday, it announced the first round of grants from the fund - a total of $95,000 to help nonprofits rebuild.

The recipients include the Boomtown Cafe, the Bread of Life Mission, the Compass Center and the Low Income Housing Institute.

Some of the agencies are hurting because others had to cut services. For example, the Boomtown Cafe had to increase the number of meals served by 1,600 a day because the red-tagged Compass Center sustained an estimated $2.5 million in damage.

To compound the problem, a change in the Federal Emergency Management Agency last fall has made it harder for nonprofits to receive federal disaster-relief money, and at least 25 percent of the damage won't be covered.

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