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Nominee #1:

Aurora Commons

I am nominating the Aurora Commons because I can't think of better place for Generation Hope to invest its resources. And, as a small organization operating on a shoestring budget, an investment of this size would make a significant different in the work at the Commons.

The Aurora Commons is a unique, welcoming space for our unhoused neighbors living along Aurora Avenue in north Seattle, one of the most economically depressed areas in our region. The Aurora Commons is a small, scrappy non-profit operating out of a converted coffee shop on 90th and Aurora Ave - walking alongside and providing services to some of our most marginalized community members.
What makes the Commons special is its focus and commitment to relationship - loving the whole person, regarding of situation, and meeting people exacting where they are, without exception or expectation. The Commons seeks to be a space for authenticity and conversation, to bring the wider community to the table to learn from one another, to be transformed by one another, and to embrace one another.
At the Commons, our unhoused neighbors on Aurora Ave, many of whom suffer from mental illness, addiction, and sexually exploitation, are offered a place to rest, prepare a meal, connect to resources, and collectively create a healthy and vibrant community. A community kitchen offers unhoused individuals an opportunity to prepare their own meals - an empowering act of dignity. Laundry facilities are available for use. Access to a community library, a clothing closet, computer/internet, and a telephone are also available. A foot & wound free clinic is available through volunteers from UW. The space is truly the neighborhood living room for many who do not have traditional housing on Aurora Avenue.
Most notably, the Commons is the only drop-in space on North Aurora directly serving women who are commercially sexually exploited. Every Wednesday night, the Commons hosts Women's Night, a safe space for women engaging in survival sex work to eat a meal, do laundry, connect to medical & social services, and build community with Commons staff and each other. The Commons has developed relationships with over 135 women who work along Aurora and is part of the CEASE Network and a part of the Adult Survivor's Collaborative with OPS, REST, and the YWCA.
More information on the Aurora Commons can be found here: https://www.auroracommons.org/. Also, a recent video featuring Aurora Commons neighbors can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xRx_3Dfj4VI&t=206s
 

This support from Generation Hope would fund the quarterly art program at the Aurora Commons. The program is a vital part of the programming at the Commons, but is in jeopardy of not continuing this coming year due to budget restraints. This funding would cover all the staffing costs and art supply expenses for one year.

Art is one of the ways the Aurora Commons loves the world, the community, the neighbor, and the self. The art therapy program strives to offer a kind and supportive space for people to create, grow, and dive deep into their hearts and stories - and is led by a staff member towards her PhD in Philosophy and the Arts at the Institute for Doctoral Studies in the Visual Arts.
When people are free to create and express themselves, whether through writing, painting, poetry, or music, they increase their sense of agency in their own lives. This is particularly true for marginalized individuals who feel a lack of control over many aspects of their lives. Arts and expression heals.
Art can be especially therapeutic for survivors of trauma, poverty, and exploitation. Art is an act of humanization in circumstances where people feel dehumanized - finding and using their voice to express their unique and beautiful perspective. Previous writing, poetry and painting workshops at the Commons with our unhoused neighbors have yielded significant results and impacted participants in important, empowering ways. There is simply no other program of its kind anywhere along Aurora Ave.
Thank you for your consideration in supporting this vital program.

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