South Seattle families looking for a safe place to splash around this summer might want to skip Seward Park. Lifeguards abruptly disappeared from the park’s swimming beach on Wednesday, and Seattle Parks and Recreation (SPR) says staffing shortages mean they’re unlikely to return anytime soon.
Before the change, lifeguards had supervised the beach seven days a week — from noon to 7 p.m. on weekdays and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekends. The service began late last month and was set to extend through early September.
Now, however, the park will be without lifeguards completely.
With the pandemic’s economic impact hitting vulnerable households hardest, Seward Park’s Graham Hill Elementary is turning to the surrounding community for relief, asking for donations to provide direct cash payments to students’ families.
The online fundraiser launched last month is the latest effort by parents and staff at South End public schools to provide flexible financial relief to families unable to afford everyday expenses, often because of COVID-19-related job losses or reduced work. Similar efforts at Rainier View and Concord International elementary schools have each raised tens of thousands of dollars in community aid since organizers began them this spring.
Graham Hill’s current goal is to raise $20,000 in donations by the end of 2020. The money will be available to families in increments of $250 to $1,000, which can be used for whatever expenses the families deem necessary.
Every year, Karen Treiger and her husband gather together with their family from across the world to celebrate Passover. They all unite from as far away as Israel, and spend a little more than a week together, she said, eight days that begin with two huge Passover seders, the name for the holiday’s feasts. It’s usually a joyful, warm affair, filled with quality family time, and opportunities to catch up with one another in person.
But the global outbreak of COVID-19 has changed all that. This year, Passover, which begins April 8, will be a smaller, quieter affair. Familiar faces will be absent. They’ll still hide the afikomen, but it won’t be as much fun, without kids to look for it alongside adults. The couple will not get to see some of their own children and other family members. It’s just not safe. Still, Treiger counts herself lucky, because she has family in the area.
“It won’t just feel like me and my husband sitting at the tables by ourselves, which, I think, for some people, it will be. And that is going to be really hard,” she said.