All the Orca Cards

Every day in Seattle men and women are trying their damndest to make a life for themselves; a life of dignity, prosperity, and with hope for the future.  These are the things we all want and work for.

Achieving these goals takes time and money. Getting to work, to appointments, and to basic services can make or break any hope of ever getting ahead.

Public transportation is a critical service that connects people to their immediate needs. Fare increases, budget cuts, and economic inequality means that access to movement is difficult for too many in our community.

We've connected with the Downtown Emergency Services Center, who name bus passes as an underfunded resource for the work they do to help homeless folks make positive steps in their lives.

Help us provide bus passes to the people in our city who need them most. We're fundraising between now and the end of the year, and your donation will allow us to purchase Orca Cards that we will pre-load with funds so that folks in Seattle can get to where they need to go.

Donate what you can, any amount is welcome. We intend to buy Orca Cards loaded with $25 so that the recipient can get to work for a week, and provide them with the card they can then load themselves once they get on their feet.

$5 - Buys an Orca Card.
$10- Buys two Orca Cards.
$30 - Buys an Orca Card and loads it so somebody can get to work for a week.
$60 - ^^That for two somebodys.
$90 - ^^That for three somebodys.

The testimonial below is from a case worker at DESC who works with dozens of people every day who just need a little support- in a world that has provided them with nothing but barriers- to make their hopes a reality.

The struggle is real, be part of the solution.

*Our "attorney" is making us tell you that your donation is not tax-deductible. Don't let that stop you.

"This morning, I was informed by two clients over breakfast that they had lost their recently acquired (and quite frankly, fought for) jobs because they couldn't get there. One couldn't find a workable bus route, and the other ran out of bus tickets and had been stuck in Aurora (an event which fated him to loss of his most precious shelter bed). Having been ticketed twice before for hopping public transportation, he resigned himself to a lay-off. "We work harder to survive than you do to live," was the way in which this particular - and may I add, most gentle - man punctuated our exchange. He is an Army vet with five years of duty under his belt, and a certified member of the Washington State Bar Association (not that the color of his collar need be shared in order for you to give a shit).

I had a lengthy draft written explaining what I do at the Downtown Emergency Service Center's Connection Program, all of the website worthy details – the vocational case management program meant to facilitate the connection of individuals to sustainable, full-time work, the laundry services, daily breakfast, rapid rehousing, etc. However, it is the apologies and the pouring of Cheerios as a response to stories like the aforementioned, that are reprehensibly commonplace, and quite frankly, dominate my experience as a case manager working with homeless individuals in Seattle.

My caseload hovers around thirty – at most, one summer, the number hit 50. My first two years at Connections, each case manager would receive 12 Metro bus tickets per week in order to get clients to and from interviews, appointments, court dates, etc. Additionally, we were able to give clients up to two books of tickets (24) to get to and from work until their first paycheck. This year, we were forced to cut down to 12 every two weeks. That's 12 one-way trips for 30 something guys. Fucking 12. And now, we can only give out one book when someone is hired full-time, and we must be sparing. Forget about routes that require Sound Transit, too – we have two Orca cards we can loan out, loading only up to a measly $10. Fucking 12 bus tickets for a group of people who spend half their days traveling back and forth across town just to get their very base needs met, like a god forsaken shower. Just a shower, can take hours, if not days, for some of my clients to accomplish. Being homeless is a work week without union breaks or a shift end, and that's just to tread water. Newly a supervisor, I am charged with the task of discerning, ultimately, who gets where, with nothing other than a painfully arbitrary decision forced by a reality my co-supervisor Charlie and I refer to as “Scarcity Central” (you know, in the all-too necessary social service jest – the kind that keeps you as sane as possible while you continue to bang your head against systemic walls and ceilings). As far as I know (and I have scoured), there are two other resources that can help with bus tickets for non-disabled, unhoused individuals, and their cap is pretty tight, too.

And so goes the system; you get a bone, but never any meat. And you have to fight with bloody knuckles for any marrow. My clients are no strangers to this. They expect disappointment. They expect broken promises. For some, it's even necessary - crucial to maintaining a sense of interiority most conducive to maintaining a functional resilience. It's fucking incredible, and it's also total fucking bullshit. And nobody walks through our doors without interpersonal, loss-related, racial, and/or institutional trauma; learned helplessness has been a way of life for most of the insanely hard-working individuals with whom I have the privilege to work and grow, long before I have to apologize incessantly and shrug for the senselessness that keeps people homeless. And a service system that perpetuates this helplessness? Makes me fucking crazy. And we do good work at Connections. I'm real proud. We just don't have much to work with.

I often joke with clients that I want to be a ninja when I grow up so that I can fix or just plain destroy all the broken in this world. I'll be taking DOC out first, but Metro has rapidly and repeatedly jumped my priority list this year. Reliable access to transportation is a freedom I can't imagine my world without, and I have a home base. Quite frankly, this is a fundamentally economic issue (you know, aside from basic human dignity); I would wager my future fortunes that should unlimited Orca cards be given to each client upon registration, the population in our day room would be halved. People would be working, and people would be housed. Canned goods are great, guys, but I'll tell you, it's a joke around the block that no one goes hungry in Seattle. It's beautiful, the work that's done around here by existing organizations to provide square meals for unhoused individuals. But it's being done. You wanna teach a man to fish? Donate an Orca card. I shit you not, it's a gift of life."
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Alex Hudson 
Seattle, WA
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