Key Communications

Huge Milestones Reached with Big Plans Ahead!

April 15, 2022

We Heart Seattle (WHS) recently reached significant milestones – 500,000+ pounds of trash removed from the city’s parks and public spaces and 100+ individuals helped off the streets. That’s 250 tons of trash, along with more than 20,000 needles removed, all thanks to our 300+ volunteers and dedicated second-chance work team. Our proven model of trash removal and individualized outreach, coupled with community engagement has also resulted in the restoration AND maintenance of 30 parks across the city.

How It Started and Where We’ve Come

Who would have dreamed that WHS founder and Executive Director Andrea Suarez’s decision in the fall of 2020 to start picking up trash in her Belltown neighborhood would spark a city-wide grassroots movement – one that would grow into an innovative, nimble, boots-on-the-ground organization making a visible and measurable impact on our wonderful city. Along the way, WHS is:

  • disrupting entrenched, ineffective systems,
  • saying “no more” to excuses, and
  • paving the way for citizen-led solutions to Seattle’s humanitarian and environmental crisis.

We Heart Seattle’s Impact is Grabbing Attention

We Heart Seattle’s unique model of civic engagement has attracted global attention. Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer and special correspondent for Getty Images John Moore recently joined the We Heart Seattle team in the field for several days. Moore’s stunning images (featured in The Guardian and Geek Wire) illustrate the degradation of our public green spaces but also showcase the power of our dedicated team.

Kevin Dahlgren’s New Leadership Role

We Heart Seattle is thrilled to announce Kevin Dahlgren is assuming the role of President of the organization, bringing 27 years of expertise in homelessness, social services/public health, and substance abuse counseling to our city. The remarkable documentary on Kevin’s success in helping bring Gresham, Oregon to functional zero for homeless is linked below along with Andrea and Kevin’s recent discussions with Mike Solan, national law enforcement expert and President of the Seattle Police Officers Guild, on his Hold the Line podcast.

What’s Next?

Amidst the often-polarizing discourse in the city and across King County, We Heart Seattle remains laser-focused on its mission of making Seattle safer and more beautiful for all. And to sustain and scale that work, WHS needs to make a significant investment in its infrastructure.

Trusty BBQ tongs are our tools of the trade but to continue and increase our impact, WHS needs to build its infrastructure by adding an operations manager, additional drivers, volunteer coordinators, and dedicated case managers. We must also fund our basic needs stipend (gift card) program that empowers those living unhoused to join our clean-up efforts. Finally, WHS must fund our second-chance work team – individuals we hire through Uplift Northwest (formerly the Millionaire Club) to participate in our daily boots-on-the-ground team, many of whom have lived experience and welcome the experience with We Heart Seattle as a means of making their way back into the working environment.

None of this would be possible without YOU – our generous donors and tireless volunteers. Together we are reinventing how to approach longstanding and seemingly insurmountable problems while disrupting the inertia that has long gripped our city.

Our heartfelt thanks for your unwavering support. Onward from here!

Andrea Suarez
Executive Director