ETHIOPIAN COMMUNITY IN SEATTLE
RVCDF helped the Ethiopian Community in Seattle secure its long-term home in the Rainier Valley.
The Ethiopian Community in Seattle (ECS) is a social service organization primarily serving recently arrived East Africans in Seattle since 1983. It was organized by a group of Ethiopian immigrants, who incorporated the organization into a 501(c)3 in 1987.
Its cycle of support is what makes ECS unique.
“Our main goals are to ensure that our members have employment, housing, and are supported through their immigration needs,” said Meron. “Once our clients reach stability, many of them become members and give back themselves. We call this our cycle of support. Those who are supported become the supporters and the cycle continues.”
Thanks to this ongoing member support—more than 1,800 strong—ECS provides case management and education services to the more than 1,000 clients and families that come through its doors each year.
ECS wanted purchased its current building in 2010 in order to expand its services and remain home in the Rainier Valley for generations to come, but they couldn’t do it alone.
“We needed financing to purchase our building,” said Meron. “Compared to other banks and institutions, we found that the RVCDF’s mission aligned most closely with ours and we moved forward with our building campaign.”
The loan has had a very positive effect on ECS’s impact in the community.
“With our new building, we not only had the space to expand our current programs and build new ones, but we also had a way to generate more income through facility rentals,” added Meron. Also, “I like its symbolism. It’s a large facility on the corner of Rose and Rainier that symbolizes the depth and resilience of our community.”
Since ECS purchased the building, they’ve made several interior and exterior improvements that have made a lasting impact on the community. It’s gone so well that future plans include building housing—a big necessity among its community members.
“ECS is a social service center, but it is also a cultural center,” says Meron. “We encourage visitors to come and learn about our community over a nice cup of Ethiopian coffee from our café Learning about our community and programs invites more opportunities to build cross-cultural connections within the Rainier Valley and beyond.”