“Community engagement and support for our local neighbors is integral to our mission at Kaiser Permanente and we’re proud to support organizations working to improve health on Capitol Hill and throughout Washington,” a statement from a company representative sent to CHS reads — but here’s the bad news:
At the same time, it’s our responsibility to make sure our patients can access care when they need it. With our growing membership, our need for parking at the Capitol Hill campus has grown. We respect our neighbors and don’t want patients circling in the residential area looking for parking and we appreciate that some of our patients need parking in order to access care. For that reason, we can no longer provide our badly-needed parking lot. We are currently discussing with SASG other ways that we can support their work.
The nonprofit SASG was founded in 1984 as the Seattle AIDS Support Group but expanded to include groups building communities around specific HIV issues and other recovery assistance like addiction. It held its first tree sale fundraiser in 1990.
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Even as looming development pushed its 2015 exit from 17th Ave E’s Dunshee House for new offices on 15th Ave E, SASG continued to use the old Group Health hospital parking lot for its annual fundraiser with volunteers working through the month every day of the holiday season. Last year, the lot continued at the 17th and Thomas location even as Kaiser Permanente acquired Group Health in a huge merger that reshaped the industry. Kaiser Permanente is now beginning the process of a $400 million overhaul of the Capitol Hill campus.
The lot has been SASG’s largest fundraiser. In 2017, it generated around $260,000. SASG has proposed alternatives including renting the lot from Kaiser Permanente but nothing worked out. So in this, the SASG holiday tree lot’s 29th year, the group is now looking for a new space on Capitol Hill to host the tree sale from Thanksgiving through December.
“We have looked all over the Hill and contacted people but space is limited afraid that taking it anywhere off the Hill will be taking away an institution in the community,” a SASG representative said.
To learn more — and maybe offer some help — visit sasgcc.org.
Michelle MacKinnon contributed reporting to this post