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FOCS helps encampment

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FOCS steps up to help asylum seeking families in Kent Encampment

Call to parents to join the effort

When the leaders at Families of Color Seattle recently learned that up to 200 Black and Latine asylum seekers, including families with young children from Angola, Congo, and Venezuela, were encamped in a grassy field next to an unused motel in Kent, they decided the organization needed to take action.

“These asylum seekers have been in Seattle without stable housing and are now camping on King County property. They were threatened with arrest, but thankfully, due to public pressure and media presence, local police did not follow through,” FOCS leaders wrote to the organization’s member parents in an email this week.

“As we absorbed this news, we reflected on how we could support these families, given our resources and knowledge. As a small staff comprised of parents of color and children of immigrants or immigrants ourselves, we felt a deep connection to their plight.”

Along with organizing and fundraising to support local families of color, the group has decided that the best way to help encamped families is to build a loving community around them.

Last week, FOCS staff were on-site at the encampment, offering toys and activities for children and talking with organizers to determine how the organization can best coordinate support for the encampment’s families.

“As concerned parents of color, this is the least we can do,” FOCS leaders said. “As a BIPOC-led organization with nonprofit status, we are compelled to use our platform to raise the alarm about this issue. Currently, no city, county, or organization is meeting the basic hygiene and food needs of families at the encampment in Kent. The basic needs of these families are being met by individuals rather than government or local organizations with the resources to support them.”

Leaders at FOCS said the organization is working to understand why Black and brown children live in outdoor campsites. In the meantime, they are calling on families of color and others throughout the region to help the asylum-seeking families. Here are two ways your family can make a difference for families in need.

  • Contact your local officials to learn what is happening and who can support camp families and step up wherever possible. 
  • Donate. Currently, the asylum-seeking families need the following items:
    • Socks of all sizes
    • Rice
    • Black hair care products
    • Clear storage totes with lids to keep rodents out of non-perishable food
    • 5-gallon containers of water (like the ones used by water coolers, available in many stores)
    • Coolers to keep perishable groceries in (the larger, the better)
    • Blocks of ice for the coolers
    • Donations can be taken directly to the encampment. Park at the bowling alley located at 1234 Central Ave N in Kent. The encampment is directly across the street from the bowling alley, and there is a tent where you can drop off donations. 

 Read more:

Families of Color Seattle: ‘Where parents of color don’t have to hold back’

Families of Color Seattle summer parent groups filling fast

About the Author

Cheryl Murfin

Cheryl Murfin is managing editor at Seattle's Child. She is also a certified doula, lactation educator for NestingInstinctsSeattle.com and a certified AWA writing workshop facilitator at Compasswriters.com.