Describe the mission, programs, and services of your organization:
YouthCare builds confidence and self-sufficiency for homeless youth by providing a continuum of care includes outreach, basic services, emergency shelter, housing, counseling, education, and employment training.
For nearly 40 years, YouthCare has been a leader in providing effective services to Seattle’s homeless youth. In 1974, a group of concerned citizens started a three-bed shelter for homeless and runaway youth, the first in the Western United States. Since then, we have grown to become a community-based agency with six sites serving the greater Seattle area.
How does your organization engage volunteers?
Volunteers are essential to supporting the services YouthCare provides to our community’s homeless youth, as well as being positive adult role models and simply showing youth the community cares about them.
- We have individual opportunities for volunteers, such as tutoring, teaching life skills workshops, helping out on our drop-in floor, assisting in our Young Adult Shelter, etc.
- We have one-time volunteer opportunities for individuals or groups to prepare and serve meals at YouthCare’s James W. Ray Orion Center.
- We host volunteer group projects at which volunteers freshen up the transitional living programs YouthCare facilitates.
How did you come into the field of volunteer engagement?
My degree is in Natural Resource Management, ha! I began teaching environmental education and field science education, and realized I loved working with youth but wanted to gain administrative experience. From there, I went into two years of AmeriCorps, both related to volunteer engagement, and began with YouthCare shortly after. I have been in the volunteer field for about five years, now.
What are some of the successes and challenges you have had engaging volunteers?
At YouthCare, we’ve had great success creating systems and various ways volunteers can smoothly sign up for specific volunteer opportunities. Challenges, being constant and innumerable, but my current challenge is that there is not enough time in a day!
If you could change one thing about the world, what would you change and why?
In my dream world, I would want any prejudices to be completely nonexistent. That’s not to say that people wouldn’t be different or have different opinions, but the barriers that prevent people to have productive conversations would be gone.
What is the most interesting item in your closet?
On the top shelf of my closet, I currently have a collection of fossils that my partner and I dug up in WA and OR! We’re trying to figure out a great way to display them in our apartment.