Assistance available for middle-income families

Assistance available for middle-income families
SEATTLE -- These days, the economy is catching up with people who usually don't need help: middle-income families.

But help is available for many people. All you have to do is ask.

Catherine Cook has a Porsche sitting in the driveway, but she's broke.

The single mother put her $1 million house on the market for $875,000 after she lost her high-paying job at Microsoft. She's now busy packing up her belongings. Her foreclosed house will be put up for auction next month.

Cook can't believe how much has changed in such a short time.

"I've never even had to ask a friend if I could borrow money. This is just insane," she said.

When the power company turned off the lights, Cook turned to Hopelink, a Redmond agency, for help. The agency says January requests for energy assistance doubled compared to last year, and nearly half of those who asked for money or food were first-timers.

"I think people who you typically consider middle class are starting to walk in the door, and that's definitely something we haven't seen a lot of in the past," said Shona Koester of Hopelink.

The food bank is stocked, but the middle-class clients are too proud. Volunteers have to convince them to think of canned food like cash. They can save hundreds of dollars a month on groceries with what's available in the Hopelink freezer.

"You can get some pretty big roasts, and you can even have turkeys. We have all kinds of things," said Koester.

Cook isn't ready to ask for food just yet, but at least now she knows help is waiting and she's not the only one who needs it.

"There's a lot of people asking for help that never did before," she said.

Hopelink serves families in the Eastside. Not everyone who asks for help qualifies.

Volunteers said they can point non-Eastside families in the right direction. All you have to do is ask for help.