Last chance to donate to Aileen’s in the year 2019!

We only have one day left in 2019 which means there is only one day left to donate to Aileen’s before the new (tax) year.

To make a tax deductible contribution to Aileen’s via our fiscal sponsor, Social and Environmental Entrepreneurs, please give through this Paypal link: https://bit.ly/2sCESYS

When you donate through the Paypal link, please also email to alert us that you’ve made a contribution, because sometimes we don’t get notified.

Otherwise, you can donate directly toward purchasing supplies and providing direct aid to our peers through GoFundMe (one-time donation) or Patreon (monthly pledge):

http://gofundme.com/aileens
http://patreon.com/aileens

As we explained in our last post, our lease will end in March and we will have to find and move to a new location in a few months to avoid being next door neighbor to the newly opening police substation. Please tell your friends about Aileen’s, share our website (www.aileens.org), and ask for their support as well to continue and grow Aileen’s into our second year.

Thank you so much + have a wonderful new year!

Aileen’s 2019 Accomplishments, Hopes and Challenges for 2020 (pls share widely!)

With 2019 nearly over and 2020 fast approaching, we at Aileen’s are super excited about what we have accomplished this year. Leslie and I (Emi) have been dreaming of a place like Aileen’s for many years, but it was less than a year ago when we learned about the potential County funding for new services for people engaging in/experiencing sex trade and actually began working on starting it. We invited in other women who share backgrounds in the (mostly) street-based sex trade, and together we built Aileen’s.

We opened our community organizing and hospitality space on Pac Highway in April. Using the space, we provided welcoming and accepting community for a diverse group of women, along with food, clothes, harm reduction supplies, opportunities to get involved, and more. Our contract with King County began in October, which allowed us to hire Leslie as the full-time director and lead case manager and Evan as a part-time program coordinator.

Our peer leadership project also began in October, which offers stipends for our peers (women experiencing homelessness and other adversities and are or have been in the sex trade) to lead our various programs, including harm reduction community outreach, community-based action research, social justice education and arts, and now operating the drop-in hospitality hours themselves. These opportunities are combined with intensive case management where peers receive support addressing barriers and working on the goals they set, including housing, healthcare, legal issues, family reunification, and employment, among others. Peer leadership also have the chance to develop job and life skills such as time management, effective communication, and self-care.

Through these programs, our peers interact with the rest of the community members at encampments, other social service agencies, etc. making them leaders of their own communities, not just leaders of Aileen’s. People outside of Aileen’s family are beginning to recognize our peer leaders as valuable members of their communities who are bringing in life-saving harm reduction supplies and amplifying their voices through action research.

Peer successes so far include women addressing serious health issues, receiving STD, HIV, and hep C testing, and starting medication assisted opioid treatment through our partnership with King County street medicine team that shares Aileen’s space bi-weekly. One of our peers got a legit job, another visited her children for the first time in two years, several have received support around domestic violence and/or sexual assault, and multiple lives were literally saved through the Narcan distributed Aileen’s.

Maybe more than anything else Aileen’s has afforded our peers a chance to organize and bond as peers, both inside and outside of Aileen’s. One peer summed it up this way: “The female to female bonding and camaraderie are hard to find. Because of Aileen’s we look out for each other now. That can be drastically important. A woman could literally die out here and no one would even know.” Another says “I don’t come here to get a microwave burrito or a coat. That is nice and I appreciate it but that is not why I come to Aileen’s. I come here because of the acceptance. I come here so I won’t feel judged. I come for the love.”

The reality is that all of this programming is expensive. The multiyear funding from the County is mostly paying for staff salaries and peer leadership stipends, which is what we wanted them to fund, but we also have to raise additional money for rent, utilities, food, and emergency assistance fund. Our rent is pretty low right now, but our lease is up in March and we cannot stay at the current location because the Police Department is now planning to open a substation next door to us (is it us?). In addition, our space is too small and lacks desired amenities such as shower, washer/dryer, and kitchen. We must find another location soon that is affordable and not surrounded by police cars and surveillance cameras.

We have limited time frame to figure out what to do come April 2020. We need to have several thousands of dollars cash for move-in costs and for likely increased rent, and we need it quickly. That is why we are asking our friends and supporters to give us a little more financial contribution toward Aileen’s continued success. We especially would like to have more monthly donors–no amount is too large or two small–as it would bring more predictability and stability to our finances.

To pledge to become a monthly supporter of Aileen’s, please sign up on Patreon:
http://patreon.com/aileens/

To make a one-time donation to Aileen’s, please go to GoFundMe:
http://gofundme.com/aileens/

If you need a tax receipt for your contribution to claim tax deductions, please contact us before making the donation on above links. Please share with your friends on and off social media as well!

Thank you everyone, happy holidays and have a wonderful new year!

Emi Koyama
Aileen’s Board of Directors

Aileen’s awarded a 4-year grant by the County–but still needs your help more than ever

As some of you have already heard, Aileen’s was recently awarded a four year (plus three months) grant from King County to expand our services. The grant allows us to hire Aileen’s co-founder Leslie so she can quit her day job and focus on running Aileen’s and additional part-time staff to assist her, and also provide stipends for women we serve to participate in our peer leadership program, which has been our dream from the beginning.

Peer leadership program begins with an orientation and a series of trainings on CPR/first aid, overdose prevention and response, safe sharps handling, harm reduction, and anti-oppression. After that, peer leaders are able to sign up for shifts to do harm reduction outreach at homeless encampments and other places that are not reached by existing programs, collect stories from community, lead art and social justice groups, etc. Aileen’s will provide intensive case management to address any barriers our peer leaders face, such as housing, treatment, clearing legal obstacles, developing time management and other job skills, etc.

Sounds amazing right? Well, the problem is that the County money doesn’t pay for many of our mundane and recurring costs, such as rent, utilities, toiletries and food for our hospitality space, and others. We obviously cannot exist without these things. In addition, our staff were hired as of October 1st but County grant hasn’t been deposited yet.

So what that brings us to is the fact that our bank account has $87.47 as of now, with some of the recurring payments coming soon. That is why, despite the County grant, we still need your financial support. Please donate to Aileen’s so we can continue to support our peers–women living and working along the increasingly cold Pacific Highway in south King County.

What’s happening at Aileen’s? A lot!

We apologize for lack of updates on our website, but we are getting a momentum here at Aileen’s HQ (i.e. our small community space). Here are some highlights:

  • Someone generously donated an outreach van! This helps us expand our reach in the community and will be super useful when we launch formal peer outreach program later.
  • Our space has been open for regular hours for a few months. We’ve provided hospitality, resources, community, and other necessities to our women. Please see our hours for our current hours.
  • Peer leadership & arts program is happening! This is a group for our peers to express ourselves through words and arts. We are working toward putting on an art show and publishing zines.
  • We’ve been holding monthly peer steering committee where our community makes decisions about the direction of Aileen’s and other stuff.
  • We’ve helped several women advocate for themselves in dealing with the criminal justice system that unfairly targeted them.
  • We held a baby shower for one of our women at Aileen’s. She gave birth the next day!
  • We’ve applied for a King County grant that would enable us to expand our case management services and provide stipends for peer outreach and leadership development. No guarantees that we’d get it, but keep fingers crossed!
  • Our sister project, System Failure Alert! has launched. This is a way for our community to report our experiences of system failures–failures of and abuses by the systems such as the police, medical providers, social service, and others that are supposed to help us but often end up causing harm–so we can establish patterns of abuse, build power, and hold institutions accountable. See System Failure Alert! website for more information.

That said, we can’t do this without the support of our community. Please continue supporting Aileen’s and our women by making a one-time donation or pledging to become a monthly donor!

Help our peer leader who is being held in jail for a 2-year old prostitution charge (Update: RELEASED!)

We have a great news. The peer leader/volunteer who has been involved with Aileen’s was released from jail on her own recognizance this afternoon. This was the outcome that we had hoped for and we got it. We will continue to work with her to address other concerns the judge told her to take care of before her next appearance in July, and either get the charge dropped or help her show up so this won’t happen again.

Thank you so much to many of you who donated toward her bail. It turned out that the bail was not needed, but we were prepared to bail her out today if it was needed (we were determined to bring her back with us one way or another).

If you wish to have your contribution refunded to you, please let me know before Friday; otherwise, we will spend some of that money to address her other needs so she can avoid going back to jail, and reserve the rest for the next time one of our peers need help with the bail and court-related expenses.

Again, thank you for supporting us and our women! Please continue to contribute toward our general GoFundMe page instead of the bail fund.

*****

Original post follows:

One of the peer leaders/volunteers who have been helping Aileen’s during our start-up phase is in jail since Wednesday. This amazing Black woman is held on a $2,500 bail for a two-year old prostitution charge. Her new court appearance isn’t until the 26th which is more than two weeks away and we want to help her get out sooner. Like right now.

Please contribute toward our jail support/bail fund so she can get toiletries and other necessities while in jail, make phone calls to family and friends, and get out!

Any money left over after assisting her will be reserved for providing jail support and bail for our peers in the future.

(We do still need help with our general expenses so keep that coming too, but right now this woman’s freedom is much more urgent.)

Join Aileen’s OPEN HOUSE on May 7th!

Aileen’s, our new organizing and hospitality space for women working along the Pac Hwy, welcomes our friends and supporters to the OPEN HOUSE to check out our space before the official launch and meet each other. Join us at our space in Federal Way (on Rapid Ride A bus line) on Tuesday, May 7th @ 6-9pm.

Because of the sensitive nature of the project, we are not publishing the address at this point. If you are interested in joining us for the open house, please contact us before Tuesday.

Support Aileen’s, Support Women on Pac Hwy

Aileen’s is a new peer-centered organizing and hospitality space for women working along the Pac Hwy. We have already gotten a space in Federal Way and are fixing it up for the opening in early to mid-May.

We are going to post more information soon, but for the moment please visit our GoFundMe page to make donations to stock our supplies, help us maintain the space, and offer stipends to peers who will be on our steering committee and/or helps out with our outreach efforts.

Please note that we do not yet have a 501(c)(3) tax exempt status, so your contributions will not be tax-deductible. If you wish to make a tax exempt donation, that can be arranged with one of our partners. Please contact us if you are interested in this option.