For years now, the steady growth of the greater Seattle area has been visible. Especially here in North Creek, Bothell, where the signs and billboards announcing "New Homes!" have become permanent roadside fixtures. Home prices and rent prices keep climbing - and it's gotten to the point where we have begun to wonder who can afford to live here. But very few of us pause to ask "who can't?"
Star Lalario is one of those few people. As a real estate agent, she is invested in the growth of this area and its developing community. But far from being distracted by the beautiful new homes, she became increasingly aware of the hidden cost to families who could no longer afford to live in the area. Families and children being dislocated due to the growing economic disparity in this region.
Star's own experience of homelessness as a child has made her acutely aware of the invisible plight of homeless children. She describes how parents often keep their children hidden out of fear that CPS will take them away. As a result, homeless children are remarkably invisible. And because most people never see children on the streets, they often do not think they exist.
For most of her adult life, Star has been dedicated to volunteering at homeless shelters in the area. She is passionate about fighting the social stigma of homelessness and conveying a message to those experiencing homelessness that this is "not the sum total of who you are."
"I want them to know they can bounce back from this. They can still have the life they've always wanted."
When she came across a story on the news about a homeless baby, a fire in her was kindled. She realized it was time to do something more. While volunteering with the Union Gospel Mission on Search and Rescue, Star noticed there were no baby/toddler-friendly necessities on the vans. So she began putting together her own care packages with formula, diapers, juice boxes, and kid snacks to be handed out on the vans.
The more she got involved focusing on the needs of homeless children, the more visible they became. Soon, she saw families in their cars or behind stores and went to them directly, offering to connect them to shelters or move them to hotel rooms. She makes regular rounds to safe parking spots where families approach her with item requests.
In October, Star came to the realization that this thing she had started was growing bigger than her. With the help of her friends and now a board of directors, Babies of Homelessness was launched.
Babies Of Homelessness mobilizes the community to deliver essential items to babies, toddlers and young children living in homeless encampments, in their cars/RVs and shelters. Through no fault of their own, these invisible children are often victims of neglect, abuse and sometimes living in deplorable conditions. Our goal is to shed light on an issue that is too often hidden from view of most locals.
This new organization is eager to take off with Star's vision to make visible the invisible children in our community. For ways to volunteer, donate, and get involved, visit Babies of Homelessness