Food trucks come through with extra helping of good for South Lake Union kids

Picture SOUTH LAKE UNION – Seattle food trucks and their customers came through with an extra helping of good this week for an after-school education and homework program for underserved kids and families in South Lake Union.

One lunch at a time, with donations of extra change on up to $20 bills, South Lake Union’s food truck customers contributed $1,040 to the South Lake Union Community Council’s SLU-Cascade Youth Enrichment Program.

In just three weeks the effort delivered twice its fundraising target and brought the community closer together, said organizer Jessica Hovater of The Hot Dog King on the corner of Westlake and Harrison Streets, one of five food trucks and carts that got behind the fundraiser.

“The entire neighborhood was very generous,” said Hovater, who along with partner Salvator Savago opted to forego customers’ tips during February in support of the effort.  “It went from $1 bills to fives, tens and even $20 bills,”said Hovater, whose customers include workers at local technology, health sciences and retail businesses. And construction workers.

“You see people in a different light than you would otherwise.  The construction workers are helping build (South Lake Union), but they don’t live here. Some live as far north as Bellingham,” she said. “You don’t think of them opening their wallets – but they said ‘absolutely, I want to be a part of that’.  It captured the attention of the entire neighborhood.”

The donations will help the youth program qualify for matching grants from the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods Neighborhood Matching Fund Program and others, said Mike McQuaid president of the South Lake Union Community Council.

“With so many fundamental changes going on in South Lake Union, it’s also important to stay focused on building community,” said McQuaid, who was presented with the donations by Hovater and Savago at Tuesday’s SLU Community Council meeting at the Museum of History and Industry.

For Hovater, continuing to make investments in people is worthwhile.

“When the community feels they have invested in their environment they are more willing to take care of the their neighborhood long term,” she said.  “It’s people investing in people. We’re investing in each other.”

The SLU-Cascade Youth Enrichment Program, which kicks-off later this spring at the Y@Cascade People's Center in South Lake Union's Cascade neighborhood, fills an important education-gap for families and elementary school-aged kids 3 – 13. The program will offer structured homework help, education materials and nutritious meals to kids between school hours and when their parents arrive home from work.

To find your favorite food truck in Seattle or to learn more about this growing segment of the hospitality industry visit

About The South Lake Union Community Council

The recognized South Lake Union neighborhood leadership organization by the City of Seattle, the South Lake Union Community Council is the steward of the SLU neighborhood plan and collaboratively with community stakeholders authored the SLU Urban Design Framework and the SLU / Uptown Mobility Plan. The South Lake Union Community Council meets monthly (4 – 6 p.m. on the first Tuesday of every month) at the Museum of History and Industry in South Lake Union. To learn more visit

Participating South Lake Union Food Trucks

The Hot Dog King Open: Mon., Tues., Wed., Thurs., Fri. (11 a.m. – 2 p.m.) Location: Corner of Westlake and Harrison (next to Firestone)

Now Make Me A Sandwich Open: Mon., Wed., Fri. (11 a.m. – 1:45 p.m.) Location: Corner of Terry and Thomas

Caravan Crepes Open: Fri. (11 a.m. – 2 p.m.) Location: Corner of Westlake and Harrison (in front of the Aveda)

Buddha Bruddah Open: Mon., Tues., Thurs. (11 a.m. – 2 p.m.) Location: Monday, Friday:  Corner of Westlake and Harrison Tuesday, Thursday:  219 Terry Ave. North

Lumpia World Open:  Tues. (11 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.) Location: Corner of Westlake and Harrison

Art Walk Co-founder, Community Leader Dena Lee Named SLU Volunteer of The Year

SOUTH LAKE UNION – South Lake Union Art Walk co-founder and community council board member Dena Lee has been named Volunteer of The Year by the South Lake Union Chamber of Commerce. Lee, a Cascade neighborhood resident, was honored at the Chamber's annual awards breakfast, Wednesday morning at Seattle's SpringHill Suites for her work as a co-founder of the flourishing neighborhood art walk. In just under a year, the progressive arts festival has grown to include some 60 artists displaying their works at 40 venues and storefronts in Seattle's South Lake Union and Cascade neighborhoods.

South Lake Union Chamber of Commerce president Curt Archambault (left) presents South Lake Union Art Walk co-founder Dena Lee with the organization's 2014 Volunteer of the Year Award. (Photo: Aaron Briggs)

"Dena Lee is a treasure to the South Lake Union and Cascade communities," said South Lake Union Community Council president, Mike McQuaid. "Her enthusiasm, community spirit and ability to bring people together through art are infectious and an inspiration to all of us in the neighborhood and beyond."

With a belief that the arts can be a catalyst for positive change resulting in stronger, healthier community, Lee started the South Lake Union Art Walk along with Andrea Florissi, owner of the neighborhood's popular Café Torino, in May 2014.   The two quickly enlisted the support and enthusiasm of the South Lake Union Community Council, South Lake Union Chamber, area businesses and a team of 10 volunteers.

"I'm very honored. Of all the years that I've done volunteer work I've never been recognized. This came as a complete surprise," said the dance educator and retired catering chef whose lifelong volunteerism includes South Lake Union service on its community council, the Advisory Board of the Y at Cascade People's Center and the city's Denny Substation Task Force along with Youth Care's Orion Center and Immanuel Lutheran Church.

For Lee and for her community, the South Lake Union Art Walk has opened doors for many artists and groups that otherwise wouldn’t have had an opportunity to share their creations and for others a preview of things to come.

Among the works displayed at the December 5 walk was a collection of tapestries depicting the 12 major religions of the world designed and sewn by members of Seattle's Unity Church.

"The congregation wanted to expose this to a broader audience," Lee said. "They finished the final one just in time for December."

In Cascade, the Y at Cascade People's Center hosted art by its AmeriCorps volunteers. And by accident, the neighborhood's community center wound up displaying a 20-foot abstract neon sculpture by All Rise, a group of Portland artists that crafted the installation to bring flare to Seattle City Light's Denny Substation project nestled between Pontius and Yale Streets.

While honored with the personal recognition of her efforts, Lee says it's all about sharing the accolades with her dedicated team of volunteers.

"The emotional, spiritual and physical support of so many people that I've worked with in South Lake Union really made this all possible," she said.

The South Lake Union Volunteer of The Year is selected by public vote and awarded to an individual who donates time, talent or money to non-work related endeavors that expressly support the spirit and growth of the South Lake Union neighborhood.

Other 2014 South Lake Union Chamber of Commerce Award winners are: Excellence in Business (Large Business); Excellence in Business (Small Business)Café Torino; Excellence in Sustainability – Zipcar; Retailer of The YearWhole Foods - South Lake Union; Non-Profit of The Year – Seattle Children's Research Institute. For a list of past award winners visit SLU Chamber Annual Awards.

To learn more about the South Lake Union Art Walk visit

Trade Show Offers Swag, Samples

Umbrellas, travel mugs, t-shirts, chair massages, and samples of ice cream and hors d'oeuvres attracted over 600 people to the South Lake Union Trade Show held in September. Presented by the SLU Chamber of Commerce, this year's trade show doubled the number of attendees from last year, and also doubled the number of vendors at the sold-out event from 16 to 30 booths."Each year it grows," said exhibitor Dawn Oliver with the Morningside School. "The event showed good community spirit and the number of attendees was evidence of growth in the neighborhood and the foot traffic on the street."

The SLU Community Council was represented with a booth which presented information on the area plan and the mobility study.  Council members were on hand to answer questions, encourage community participation in the Council, and to let people know that the Council can serve as a conduit for advancing community issues/agenda.

The trade show was produced with sponsorships from Spring Hill Suites, UW Medicine, Pacific Medical Center, 415 Westlake and Athletic Awards.

The SLU Chamber continues working on ways to help local businesses and they are about to introduce a new app that will highlight special offers from retailers participating in the SLU Card program, neighborhood twitter feeds, events  and navigation tools. Part of the inspiration for the app came from business leaders who want to remind people that businesses are open during Mercer Construction. With so many innovative and tech-forward companies in the neighborhood, an app seemed like the perfect way to do this and showcase the neighborhood at the same time.