March 2, 2021
Last March, as the pandemic shut down events and food service establishments, Uplift Northwest (formerly Millionair Club Charity) saw nearly 70 percent of its concession jobs in Seattle sports arenas and other entertainment venues disappear overnight.
Since then, the organization has acted to secure new contracts for litter abatement and hygiene management services, while also securing two tenants that share its downtown building and provide complementary services to people experiencing homelessness. Operation Sack Lunch, which rents the kitchen and dining hall, runs an on-site food program that offers 3 free meals a day. A second tenant, the Metropolitan Improvement District, manages an outreach crew of 9 people who do triage with homeless individuals to help them access rehab, housing, and other vital services.
Uplift Northwest announced its new name in October, and in November welcomed a new Executive Director, Gina Hall, to lead the organization as it begins its second century of service to Seattle/King County. With 20 years of nonprofit experience, most recently at Seattle Goodwill Industries, Gina is guiding the team at Uplift Northwest to reimagine new ways to serve people experiencing homelessness and meet the needs of employer partners in the post-COVID economy. Backing up Gina are Chief Operations Officer Christine Rylko and Director of Social Enterprise Ian Downs, both of whom were instrumental in helping the organization pivot after last year’s sudden downturn and manage the leadership transition.
Currently the staffing business is servicing contracts with King County and Seattle Public Utilities to deploy litter abatement crews and staff hygiene stations for unsheltered individuals. The enterprise also supplies Salvation Army and other nonprofits with workers for janitorial, security, shelter support, and intake jobs.
Gina notes, “We’re employing about a third of the number of workers we were last year, but the job placements are providing better income and benefits.” So, while the transition has been painful in many ways, it has produced positive outcomes in terms of job stability and conversions-to-hire and is opening doors to new municipal contract opportunities.
While Uplift Northwest rebuilds its staffing business, Gina is also overseeing an internal restructure of their program and earned revenue initiatives, the development of a 3-year strategic plan, and revision of their job readiness training to an online format.
We warmly welcome Gina to our community of practice and wish the team at Uplift Northwest a happy centennial and productive new year!