Newcomer's Handbook Seattle

Getting Involved

Now that the electricity is on, your Internet service is up and running, and most of your boxes are unpacked, it’s time to meet the locals. This chapter lists a number of ways you can begin to make connections with people in your community, from volunteering, to social clubs, to places of worship.

Volunteer Matching and Placement

When you’re new in town, volunteering may provide the perfect opportunity to get acquainted with the community and to make new friends in the process. In addition to meeting people with similar interests, you’ll be helping organizations that are often short on cash and resources. Seattle has many charitable and philanthropic organizations that offer a variety of services, from the basics of food and clothing, to counseling, to funding education or medical research.

If you’re not sure where to begin, the following volunteer placement services can point you in the right direction:

Area Causes

Volunteer opportunities also can be found in the Yellow Pages, in newspaper advertisements, and online at The following is a sample of possibilities, listed by category:


  • Bailey-Boushay House, 2720 E Madison St, 206-322-5300,
  • Gay City Health Project, 511 E Pike, 206-860-6969,
  • Lifelong AIDS Alliance, 1002 E Seneca, 206-328-8979,
  • People of Color Against AIDS Network, Seattle office: 1609 19th Ave, 206-322-7061; South Seattle office: 4437 Rainier Ave S, 206-760-5588,
  • Rosehedge/Multifaith Works, 115 16th Ave, 206-324-1520,
  • Seattle Area Support Groups & Community Center (SASGCC), 303 17th Ave E, 206-322-2437,

Alcohol and Drug Dependency


  • The Humane Society for Seattle/King County, 13212 SE Eastgate Way, Bellevue, 425-641-0080,
  • Pasado’s Safe Haven, P.O. Box 171, Sultan, 98294, 360-793-9393,
  • Progressive Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), 15305 44th Ave W, Lynnwood, 425-787-2500,
  • Seattle Animal Control, 2061 15th Ave W, 206-386-PETS,



  • Big Brothers Big Sisters of King County, 1600 S Graham St, 206-763-9060, 877-700-2447,
  • Big Brothers Big Sisters of Pierce and Kitsap Counties, 2107 S 12th St, Tacoma, 253-396-9630,
  • Boys and Girls Clubs of King County, 603 Stewart, #300, 206-436-1800,
  • Catholic Community Services, 100 23rd Ave S, 206-328-5696,
  • Childhaven, 316 Broadway, 206-464-3923 ex 4911,
  • Children’s Home Society of Washington, 3300 NE 65th St, 206-695-3200,
  • Seattle Children’s Hospital, 4800 Sand Point Way NE, 206-987-2155,

Crime Prevention

Cultural Identity

  • Asian Counseling and Referral Service, 3639 Martin Luther King Jr Way S, 206-695-7600,
  • Casa Latina, 317 17th Ave S, 206-956-0779,
  • Chinese Information and Service Center, 611 S Lane St, 206-624-5633,
  • El Centro de la Raza, 2524 16th Ave S, 206-957-4634,
  • Japanese American Citizens League, 805-225-3169,
  • Jewish Family Service, 1601 16th Ave, 206-461-3240; 15821 NE 8th St, Ste 210, Bellevue, 425-643-2221; 1209 Central Ave S, Ste 134, Kent, 253-850-4065;
  • Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle, 2031 3rd Ave, 206-443-5400,
  • Korean Community Counseling Center, 23830 Hwy 99 #206, Edmonds, 425-776-2400
  • Seattle Indian Center, 611 12th Ave S, 206-329-8700,
  • United Indians of All Tribes Foundation, Daybreak Star Art & Cultural Center, Discovery Park, 206-285-4425,
  • Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle, 105 14th Ave, 206-461-3792,

Culture and the Arts

Disability Assistance

  • Catholic Community Services, 100 23rd Ave S, 206-328-5696,
  • Deaf-Blind Service Center, 1620 18th Ave, Ste 200, 206-323-9178,
  • Easter Seals Washington, 220 W Mercer St, 206-281-5700,
  • Hearing, Speech, and Deafness Center, 1625 19th Ave, 206-323-5770,
  • Outdoors for All Foundation, 6344 NE 74th St, Ste 102, 206-838-6030,
  • Sight Connection, 9709 3rd Ave NE, 206-525-5556,


Food Distribution

Gay and Lesbian

Health and Hospitals

Most hospitals welcome volunteers—just give the nearest one a call. For specific health issues, contact one of the following organizations:

  • Alzheimer’s Association, Western and Central Washington State Chapter, North Tower, 100 W Harrison St, N200, 206-363-5500,
  • American Cancer Society, 728 134th St SW, Ste 101, Everett, 425-741-8949,
  • American Heart Association, 710 2nd Ave, Ste 900, 206-632-6881,
  • American Lung Association, 2625 3rd Ave, 206-441-5100,
  • Gilda’s Club, 1400 Broadway, 206-709-1400,
  • Make-A-Wish Foundation, 811 1st Ave, 206-623-5300,
  • March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation, 1904 3rd Ave, Ste 230, 206-624-1373,
  • National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Greater Washington Chapter, 192 Nickerson St, Ste 100, 206-284-4254,

Homeless Services

Human Services

International Relief and Development

  • Architects Without Borders, 1205 E Pike St,
  • Global Partnerships, 1932 1st Ave, Ste 400, 206-652-8773
  • Medical Teams International, 9680 153rd Ave NE, 425-454-8326,
  • Mercy Corps, 509 Fairview N, Ste 200, 206-547-5212,
  • American Civil Liberties Union of Washington, 901 5th Ave, Ste 630, 206-624-2184,
  • Catholic Community Services, 100 23rd Ave S, 206-328-5696,
  • LegalVoice, 907 Pine St, Ste 500, 206-682-9552,
  • Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, 206-587-4009,
  • Volunteer Legal Services, 206-623-0281
  • Washington State Bar Association, 1325 4th Ave, Ste 600, 800-945-9722, 206-443-9722,


  • Friends of the Seattle Public Library, 1000 4th Ave, 206-523-4053
  • King County Library System, 960 Newport Way NW, Issaquah, 425-369-3200,
  • Literacy Council of Seattle, 8500 14th Ave NW, 206-233-9720,
  • Literacy Source, 206-782-2050,
  • Page Ahead Children’s Literacy Program, 1130 NW 85th St, 206-461-0123,

Men’s Services

Mentoring and Career Development


  • Freedom Socialist Party, New Freeway Hall, 5018 Rainier Ave S, 206-722-2453,
  • Green Party of Seattle,
  • International Socialist Organization, 206-309-7274,
  • King County Democrats, 425-255-2679,
  • League of Women Voters of Washington, 4710 University Way NE, Ste 720, 206-622-8961,
  • Libertarian Party of Washington State, 10522 Lake City Way NE, Ste C-103,
  • King County Republican Party, 845 106th Ave NE, Ste 110, Bellevue, 425-990-0404,


Refugee Assistance

  • International Counseling and Community Services, 115 NE 100th St, Ste 200, 206-816-3253,
  • International Rescue Committee, 100 S King St, Ste 570, 206-623-2105, &
  • Refugee Resettlement Office, 1610 S King St, 206-323-3152,
  • Refugee Women’s Alliance, 4008 Martin Luther King Jr Way S, 206-721-0243,

Senior Services

Women’s Services

  • FaithTrust Institute, 2400 N 45th St, Ste 101, 206-634-1903,
  • Junior League of Seattle, 4119 E Madison St, 206-324-0432,
  • New Beginnings for Battered Women and Their Children, 206-783-4520,
  • Refugee Women’s Alliance, 4008 Martin Luther King Jr Way S, 206-721-0243,
  • Washington Women in Need, 700 108th Ave NE, Ste 207, Bellevue, 425-451-8838,
  • YWCA, 206-490-4376,


  • Central Area Youth Association, 119 23rd Ave, 206-322-6640,
  • Central Youth and Family Services, 1901 Martin Luther King Jr Way S, 206-322-7676
  • Friends of Youth, 16225 NE 87th St, Ste A-6, Redmond, 425-869-6490,
  • Ruth Dykeman Children’s Center, 1033 SW 152nd St, 206-242-1698,
  • Southwest Youth and Family Services, 4555 Delridge Way SW, 206-937-7680,
  • University District Youth Center, 4516 15th Ave NE, 206-28-5719,
  • Youth Care, 2500 NE 54th St, 206-694-4500,
  • Youth in Focus, 2100 24th Ave S, Ste 310, 206-723-1479,

Meeting People

Transplants to Seattle seeking to make connections in the community have a common complaint: the natives are friendly—they’re just not terribly sociable. Seattleites have a reputation for being socially standoffish, and getting beyond surface pleasantries can take some work. As with any new job, it helps to have references. Before you move, ask your friends for the names and contact information of people they know in the area. Sometimes just one friendly person can open up a whole social scene for you. Seek out fellow transplants, who may be more socially welcoming. Other good places to meet people are volunteer groups (see “Volunteer Matching and Placement,” above), cultural events (see “Cultural Life”), recreational groups or sports clubs (see “Sports and Recreation”), and religious or spiritual groups (see “Places of Worship,” below). Free local papers such as The Stranger and Seattle Weekly as well as The Seattle Times are chock full of event listings in their arts and entertainment sections. Get out and circulate! These days there are a multitude of location-based apps for smart phones and PDAs that can put you in touch with likeminded people in your immediate vicinity. Dating and matchmaking services, as well as social networking sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn, are beyond the scope of this guide, but the following suggestions may help you connect with people who share your interests:

Alumni Groups

Most colleges and universities have alumni groups in Seattle that host social and networking events for former students. Check with the alumni or development office at your alma mater about alumni groups in your area. Be sure your old school has your current contact information, so they can let you know about any upcoming alumni events planned in your area. Armed with an alumni directory, you might consider initiating an event yourself and inviting fellow alumni in your area.

Business Groups

People (especially those who are single and in their 20s or 30s) often make important social connections at work, at informal gatherings of coworkers. But depending on your field, you might want to consider joining a professional networking group, since these organizations frequently schedule social events for members. Two useful websites for finding such groups include the Seattle Networking Guide ( and Women’s Resource (253-572-9108, If you’re working from home, seek out groups that organize social and networking events for freelancers, such as MediaBistro ( and the Northwest Freelancers Association (

Political Groups

Waving a soggy placard in the rain and waiting for the speeches to begin (or end) can be a good opportunity to chat it up with your fellow protestors and maybe make a connection or two. Whatever your political persuasion, joining a political group (some are listed above under “Area Causes”) can put you in touch with individuals who share many of your values and beliefs.

The Outdoors

The Puget Sound region is a magnet for outdoors enthusiasts, with innumerable organized groups, clubs, and societies devoted to every imaginable type of recreation Newcomers to the area can join groups that organize long-distance cycling trips, kayak on Lake Union, schedule urban scavenger hunts, or go foraging for wild foods. Bulletin boards at local climbing gyms are often papered with notices of people looking for climbing partners, outdoor clubs such as The Mountaineers (206-521-6000, sponsor a gazillion different activities at a range of skill levels and ages, and there is even an informal social networking group for environmentalists, Greendrinks,

Parents’ Groups and School Functions

If you are moving to the city with kids, you have a social advantage, at least in terms of meeting other parents. Many Seattle parents with very young children join a local organization called PEPS (Program for Early Parent Support, 206-547-8570,, and the people they meet in their PEPS groups often become lifelong friends. Once your children are school age, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to meet and chat up other parents at school functions or just while waiting outside the building to collect your charges. Public schools, in particular, depend upon the help of parent volunteers—if you advertise your willingness to help out, you’ll get a flood of invitations.

Special Interests

Join a poker league, meet up with fellow falconers, confer with other beading enthusiasts, or practice your conversational Portuguese—start searching and you’ll find there’s a group for nearly every interest. A good website to investigate is Meetup (, which lists scheduled gathering of various groups in your area. Type in your zip code and the subjects you’re interested in, and you’ll be rewarded with a wealth of options.

There’s even an organization called Seattle Anti-Freeze, devoted to thawing out the city’s social scene one theme party at a time ( And there’s the city’s largest social club, Space City Mixer,, with over 20,000 members.

In the chapter of this book entitled A Seattle Year, you’ll find listings of festivals and events occurring each month that rely on an army of volunteers to run smoothly. Choose one that appeals to you and sign up. For newcomers with a literary bent, libraries and bookstores around the city sponsor book groups that anyone can join.


Finding a place of worship can be as simple as soliciting the suggestion of a co-worker or neighbor, or as intensely personal and complex as choosing a spouse. If you belong to a congregation in your old hometown, your religious leader might be able to refer you to a kindred congregation in Seattle. If you don’t have a referral, search online, or in the Yellow Pages under “Churches,” “Synagogues” and “Mosques.” The phone book listings are arranged by denomination and include sections for nondenominational, interdenominational, and independent churches, as well as metaphysical centers.

These interfaith agencies, representing congregations working together to address hunger, homelessness, and other urban problems, might be able to refer you to a congregation:

  • The Church Council of Greater Seattle, 2701 1st Ave, Ste , 206-525-1213,
  • The Interfaith Council of Washington, P.O. Box 31005, Seattle 98103,
  • Washington Association of Churches, 1415 NE 43rd St, 206-625-9790,

Online directories—generally limited to Christian denominations—include Net Ministries,, Churches Dot Net,, USA Church,, and For Ministry, Synagogues serving all branches of Judaism are listed at Maven Search,

While Seattle may consistently rank among the least religious cities in the nation, there are plenty of places of worship to accommodate individuals of every faith and spiritual persuasion. The following list consists primarily of useful websites to help you locate facilities in your area.

Alternative Worship

Gay & Lesbian Spiritual groups

For information regarding gay-friendly churches, visit the website of Gay Church at Notable LGBT-friendly congregations of different faiths include:

  • All Pilgrims Christian Church, Lambda Ministries, 509 10th E, 206-322-0487, A huge rainbow sign proclaiming “Come As You Are” adorns the brick tower of this church on Capitol Hill.
  • Central Lutheran Church, 1710 11th Ave, 206-322-7500,
  • Congregation Tikvah Chadasha, 1122 E Pike St, 206-353-1414,
  • Dharma Buddies, 400 Broadway,
  • Dignity Seattle, 5751 33rd Ave NE, 206-659-5519,, is the country’s largest and most progressive organization of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Catholics.
  • Edmonds Unitarian Universalist Church, 8109 224th St SW, Edmonds, 425-778-0373,
  • Grace Gospel Chapel, 2052 NW 64th St, 206-784-8495,
  • Kol HaNeshamah, 6115 SW Hinds St, 206-935-1590,
  • Lotus Sisters, 303 17th Ave E, 206-323-5505,
  • Metropolitan Community Church Seattle, 1415 NE 43rd St, 206-325-2421,
  • St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral, 1245 10th Ave E, 206-323-0300,

New Age Spirituality, Paganism, and more



  • Bahá’á Faith, website of the Bahá’ís of the United States,
  • Seattle Bahá’í Center, 206-329-2564,


The non-sectarian Northwest Dharma Association publishes the Northwest Dharma News and organizes multi-tradition events. The organization’s website provides a calendar of Buddhist retreats, classes and events, and links to other Buddhist sites. For more information visit their office at 305 Thomas St, 206-441-6811, or visit

  • Sakya Monastery of Tibetan Buddhism, 108 NW 83rd St, 206-789-2573,
  • The Seattle Buddhist Center, 12056 15th Ave NE, is affiliated with the international movement known as the Friends of the Western Buddhist Order. The center offers shrine rooms for meditation, Dharma book sales and merchandise, a lending library, and conversation areas. Call 206-726-0051 or visit
  • Seattle Buddhist Church, 1427 S Main St, 206-329-0800,


If you are looking for a church that is convenient to where you live, start your search at one of the online directories listed above. The National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA, 212-870-2228,, publishes the Yearbook of American & Canadian Churches, a directory that lists thousands of Christian churches in North America. Order one for $55 at 888-870-3325.

African Methodist Episcopal

  • The African Methodist Episcopal Church’s official website, 615-254-0911,
  • The First African Methodist Episcopal Church (1522 14th Ave, 206-324-3664, is the oldest congregation in the Pacific Northwest to be established by African Americans. Founded in 1886, First AME Church Seattle is a historical landmark. In August 2001, the church welcomed Bishop Vashti McKenzie, the first woman ever appointed bishop in the AME Church.



Assemblies of God


  • Baptist 411,
  • Baptistinfo Directory of Independent Baptist Churches,
  • Founded in 1890, Mount Zion Baptist Church (1634 19th Ave, 206-322-6500, in Seattle’s Central District is one of the city’s oldest continuously active places of worship. Mount Zion is perhaps best known to those outside its congregation for its annual Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration. The church is also active in community outreach, and serves as a meeting place for a variety of local organizations and committees.


Roman Catholic

The Archdiocese of Seattle encompasses all of western Washington, and includes more than 178 parishes and missions that serve over half a million Catholics. In addition to managing the many ministries and programs that serve the Catholic community, the Archdiocese runs a library/media center and publishes the Catholic Northwest Progress. The Archdiocese offices are located at 710 9th Ave. For more information, call 206-382-4560, or visit

  • The century-old St. James Cathedral (804 9th Ave, 206-622-3559, is the cathedral for the Catholic Archdiocese of Seattle, as well as an active parish church for the Capitol Hill community. Check the schedule for outstanding classical musical events throughout the year, including a popular New Year’s Eve gala.


See separate listing under Orthodox, below.

Christian Science

Church of Christ

Church of God

  • Pacific Northwest Association of the Church of God, 509-457-1941,

CChurch of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons)

  • The Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (2808 148th Ave SE, Bellevue, 425-643-5144) was the first Mormon temple built in the Pacific Northwest. The 110,000-square-foot temple attracted its share of controversy when it was built in the late 1970s, from environmentalists who balked at its size and location, to women’s rights activists who opposed the church’s stand on the Equal Rights Amendment. Today, the temple’s lofty gold leaf statue of the angel Moroni is a familiar local beacon.


  • Northern Pacific Conference of the Evangelical Covenant Church, 206-275-3903,

Emerging Churches

Generally speaking, “emerging churches” are nondenominational, non-hierarchical congregations of Christians seeking, in postmodern society, to identify with the life of Jesus. Members often express their disillusionment with institutionalized Christianity and place a high value on social activism, communal values, and acceptance of outsiders. Emerging churches in Seattle include the Church of the Apostles (4272 Fremont Ave N, and Quest Church (3233 15th Ave W, 206-352-3796,


  • St. Clement of Rome Episcopal Church, established in 1891, 1501 32nd Ave S, 206-324-3072,
  • Trinity Parish, established in 1865, 609 8th Ave, 206-624-5337,

Foursquare Gospel

  • The Foursquare Church—Northwest District, 253-284-1674,

Friends (Quakers)

  • Friends General Conference, 215-561-1700,

Jehovah’s Witnesses

You can download a list of Kingdom Halls in Washington State at


  • Northwest District of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, 888-693-5267,
  • Northwest Washington Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, 5519 Phinney Ave N, 206-783-9292,


  • Pacific Northwest Mennonite Conference, 888-492-4216,


  • The First United Methodist Church was established in 1853, making it the oldest congregation in Seattle. The church’s first services were held in a log cabin. The congregation moved to its current location at 180 Denny Way in 2010 (206-622-7278,
  • Pacific Northwest Conference of the United Methodist Church, 206-870-6820,



  • Mars Hill Church (206-816-3500, appeals to a youthful congregation with live rock bands and a theologically conservative message. Founded in 1996, this mega-church now has ten campuses in the Pacific Northwest, where 10,000 people attend weekly services.
  • Other non-denominational churches in the region are listed on the USAChurch website (


  • Saint Spiridon Orthodox Cathedral, 400 Yale St N, 206-624-5341, The parish maintains a conscious policy of welcome to newcomers.
  • Washington Orthodox Clergy Association, 425-391-2240,



Seventh-Day Adventist

Unitarian Universalist

  • Pacific Northwest District of the Unitarian Universalist Association, 425-957-9116,

United Church of Christ

  • Plymouth Congregational Church, founded in 1869 by early settlers, is the second oldest congregation in Seattle. The church is located in downtown Seattle at 1217 6th Ave (206-622-4865,
  • United Church of Christ, 216-736-2100,



  • Northwest District of the Wesleyan Church, 360-693-1677,


  • The Vedanta Society of Western Washington is a branch of the Ramakrishna Order of India, which was established by Swami Vivekananda in 1894. The main temple and bookshop are located at 2716 Broadway East, on Capitol Hill, and the Tapovan Retreat is at 23217 27th Avenue NE, in Arlington, north of Seattle. For more information, call 206-323-1228 or visit
  • Hindu Temple and Cultural Center, 3818 212th St SE, Bothell, 425-483-7115,


  • The Islamic Educational Center of Seattle is located in Mountlake Terrace at 23204 55th Ave W. The center offers religious, educational and cultural services, and a library. For details, call 206-428-1970 or visit
  • The Islamic (Idriss) Mosque, at 1420 NE Northgate Way (206-363-3013, is Seattle’s first mosque and the first built west of the Mississippi in a Middle Eastern style. The mosque is also home to the Islamic Center of Washington.
  • Islamic Center of Eastside, 14700 Main St, Bellevue, 425-746-0398, The center is currently planning a major expansion.



  • You’ll find a listing of Seattle area synagogues at (
  • The Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle, 2031 3rd Avenue, which coordinates and funds Jewish projects, provides leadership, and supports educational programs, is a substantial resource for the Jewish community. The organization’s comprehensive website,, provides links to Jewish resources, lists holidays and Shabbat candle-lighting occasions, and offers reprints of the Guide to Jewish Washington, which is published each year by Seattle’s only Jewish newspaper, the JT News (formerly the Jewish Transcript). For more information, call 206-443-5400 or visit
  • The Stroum Jewish Community Center promotes intergenerational Jewish events, informal education programs and activities, and social services, including a childcare center and senior adult programs. The JCC’s primary facility on Mercer Island, 3801 East Mercer Way, features a state-of-the-art fitness center. Call 206-232-7115 or visit The Center also has a facility at 2618 NE 80th St (206-526-8073).
  • Seattle’s oldest Jewish congregation is Bikur Cholim Machzikay Hadath, located at 5145 S Morgan St (206-721-0970, in the Seward Park neighborhood.

Religious Studies

The following colleges and universities offer graduate degree programs in religious studies:

  • Northwest Baptist Seminary, 4301 N Stevens St, Tacoma, 253-759-6104
  • Seattle Pacific Seminary, Seattle Pacific University, 206-281-2342,
  • The Seattle School of Theology and Psychology, (formerly Mars Hill Graduate School; the school is not affiliated with Mars Hill Church), 2525 220th St SE, Bothell, 425-415-0505,
  • Seattle University, Theology and Ministry, 206-296-5330,
  • University of Washington, Jackson School of International Studies, Comparative Religion Program, 206-543-4370,
  • Western Reformed Seminaries, Pastoral Studies, 5 S “G” St, Tacoma, 253-272-0417,
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