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The Margie Williams Helping Hands Center's new director serves the East Highlands
The Margie Williams Helping Hands Center, to support the homeless and those in need of food and clothing, has a new director.
Crystal Bolts, the daughter of the late Rev. Margie Williams, is now the head of the nonprofit, located in the East Renton Highlands neighborhood. The center serves a diverse population with emergency food and clothing and house-bound seniors who are on fixed on incomes with home food deliveries.
“I believe the mission is still to feed God’s people,” said Bolts.
The center feeds a diverse array of clients every Saturday, from 8 to 11 a.m., with the help of volunteers. There are Russians, Yugoslavians and Filipinos, who frequent the center. There are also lots of elderly from all backgrounds who make the food bank part of their routine.
“We love them; they love us,” said Bolts. “They call us by name. It’s Helping Hands; it’s a welcome place for the community to come. I feel like they feel welcome. It’s growing; it’s changing - a lot of love here, God’s here.”
The center was started in 2001, after Rev. Margie Williams had already passed away. After a career as an educator in the Seattle School District and in the military, Williams became an evangelist. She moved her family from Seattle to Renton and started a small church in her home. Then Williams and her congregation landed at the Solid Rock Building in downtown Renton and eventually founded Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Baptist Church.
“I understand she paid the first rent out of her own pocket,” said her daughter. “Then we moved up here, up to our own building and here we are today.”
Margie Williams Helping Hands Center is located on the church’s property and is just adjacent to it. It occupies several rooms filled with food in a building there and has clothing and bedding for emergency purposes. Much of their donations come from Northwest Harvest, private donations and this past fall they received 1,500 pounds of food from Fairwood Safeway.
The center has basic food needs, plus fresh fruits and vegetables and milk products.
“It’s not work, it’s - how can I explain this?” said Bolts. “It’s not work, it’s not a job. You want to volunteer; you want to be here.