Grant enables mental services

Low-income adolescents and adults who now often can’t get mental health services will be able to get help, thanks to an $80,000 grant from United Way of Snohomish County.

Providence Everett Healthcare Clinic, where the services will be offered, is one of 93 social service programs to receive United Way grants, which totaled $3.3 million this year. The programs will serve an estimated 320,000 people.

The nonprofit clinic will be able to expand its mental health services by hiring a psychiatric nurse practitioner to see patients 20 hours a week, said Dr. Tony Roon, who directs the clinic. The organization also provides health care and coordinates dental care to low-income, uninsured and elderly patients.

About 100 adolescent and adult patients will be served through the expansion of services, he said, since patients on average need 12 appointments to deal with mental health problems.

The clinic’s adult and adolescent patients now often have to wait several months to get psychiatric services, Roon said. The additional services are expected to be offered starting in the fall.

Like communities nationally, Snohomish County does not have enough psychiatric services to treat all those who need help. The lack of services is especially severe for children and those without health insurance.

United Way’s decision to give the clinic money to increase mental health services is a good use of the money raised by donations to United Way, said Jess Jamieson, president and chief executive of Compass Health, the county’s largest mental health provider.

Providing services to people with mental health problems is a critical need in the community, he said.

One of the most common psychological problems patients face is depression, Roon said.

But people also seek help for bipolar disorder, attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder, and other mental health problems, he said.

The clinic now has two psychiatric nurse practitioners, each working one day a week.

Other United Way grants will provide services to people of all ages.

Programs for children and youths received the most money, $491,468, said Deborah Squires, a spokeswoman for United Way.

“We’re trying to make sure children and youths have a good start,” she said.

The money will be used to pay for after-school programs and help young people avoid drugs, crime and teen pregnancy.

One of the biggest grants in this group was given to the Boys &Girls Clubs of Snohomish County, which received $100,000 for its services to kids.

But older adults will get a chance to take fitness classes, participate in meals programs, and socialize during a hand of pinochle or a friendly round of pool through grants totaling $132,100 to senior centers in Monroe, Mill Creek, Edmonds, Arlington, Snohomish and Stanwood.

Homeless teens and families will not only have a place to sleep at emergency shelters but get help in getting permanent housing and skills to help rebuild their lives.

Housing programs received $363,000, or about 11 percent of the grants given this year, with $100,000 given to the Housing Hope program to help families move from emergency shelter to permanent housing.

Not all grants were big. People with disabilities will get the chance to take horseback riding lessons through a $9,534 grant to EquiFriends in Snohomish.

Even with $3.3 million to give to area organizations, United Way received grant requests for more than twice that amount – $7.5 million.

“It’s the hardest part of our work,” said Carl Zapora, president and chief executive of United Way of Snohomish County. “Often times we’re asked: ‘Why didn’t our program get funded?’ “

Forty-nine volunteers spent an estimated 2,800 hours reviewing the proposals before deciding which programs to fund, he said.

“There are fine programs not funded and wonderful new programs funded,” Zapora said.

Funding to new programs included $52,500 given to Bridgeways to help people battling serious or persistent mental illness live independently, said Barbara Davis, a United Way vice president.

One example of an organization that didn’t get money this year was the Girl Scouts, which had asked for $87,000, Zapora said.

“If we had additional dollars, many of the programs that we were not able to fund would be funded,” he said.

One of the single largest United Way grants went to Volunteers of America. It received of $122,083 to operate its food distribution center in Everett. The center supplies food to 20 food banks, 16 congregational meal programs, and food programs for seniors and the disabled that served an estimated 85,000 children and adults in Snohomish County last year.

Reporter Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486 or

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