History

  • Circle Members at a garden party, 1938

    Circle Members at a garden party, 1938

  • Circle Members distributed goats to families for milk, 1939

    Circle Members distributed goats to families for milk, 1939

  • The organization ran a well-baby clinic in 1939, providing medical testing, vaccines and preventative care

    The organization ran a well-baby clinic in 1939, providing medical testing, vaccines and preventative care

  • In 1956, the Thrift Shop was the organization's major fundraiser

    In 1956, the Thrift Shop was the organization's major fundraiser

  • Holiday Adopt-A-Family in 1954

    Holiday Adopt-A-Family in 1954

  • Holiday Adopt-A-Family in 1966

    Holiday Adopt-A-Family in 1966

  • Circle Members celebrated the organization's 60th anniversary in 1971

    Circle Members celebrated the organization's 60th anniversary in 1971

  • The grand opening of the Thrift Shop's new space at Bellevue Square in 1981

    The grand opening of the Thrift Shop's new space at Bellevue Square in 1981

  • The Thrift Shop in 1994

    The Thrift Shop in 1994

    Photos courtesy of Eastside Heritage Center.

    In 1911, a group of women living in Hunts Point formed the Overlake Service League in support of neighbors in need. Now known as Bellevue LifeSpring, the organization continues its tradition of providing children’s basic needs, allowing them to focus on their education and break the cycle of poverty.

    When Overlake Service League began, the population in the Bellevue area was just over 150. In the early days, the organization delivered food baskets, goats for milk and seeds and farm equipment to plant and harvest food. During the Great Depression and following years, Overlake Service League helped those out of work to find jobs. They delivered 50,000 half-pints of milk to school children and began a Well-Baby Clinic that provided immunizations and routine exams prior to the existence of a hospital on the Eastside.

    In 1939, the first Overlake Service League Thrift Shop was opened on Main Street. In 1947, the Thrift Shop moved to Kemper Development property and in 1981, made the final move to Bellevue Square Mall. In summer 2017, the thrift shop joined Bellevue LifeSpring administrative offices on the third floor of Bellevue Square and was named Thrift Culture for Bellevue LifeSpring’s culture of giving.

    Overlake Service League had been supporting families in the Bellevue area for nearly 42 years by the time Bellevue was finally incorporated as a city in 1953. The League’s membership had grown to include 500 individuals in neighborhoods around the new city. By the end of the decade, it was serving more than 200 individuals per year. As Bellevue grew, so did the need. By 1985, the League was serving over 2,000 individuals per year.

    In 2011, Overlake Service League celebrated 100 years of serving the Bellevue community with a Centennial Gala and changed the name of the organization to Bellevue LifeSpring to better reflect its commitment to serving families within the Bellevue School District.

    With the support of its Board of Directors, Circle members, volunteers and donors, Bellevue LifeSpring now serves more than 15,000 individuals per year with programs that feed, clothe, educate and provide emergency assistance. Bellevue has grown but Bellevue LifeSpring has grown with it and continues its tradition of neighbors helping neighbors that began over a century ago.

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