Homeless Outreach to Seattle’s Youth
Midwinter-goers wanted to make a difference in Seattle, and on Friday they got their chance. As part of the Homeless Outreach project dreamed up and executed by ALA members and staff, a small group of librarian volunteers cooked meals and then served them to area homeless youth. YouthCare, the site of the volunteer project, is a place where youth can not only get warm, get food, or find a place to sleep, but better themselves as well.
ALA member volunteers chopped apples, prepared pasta, and served approximately 40 youths under the direction of Jack Koran, YouthCare’s meal coordinator. Librarian participants also got an opportunity to tour the space, which included areas for a computer tech program (youth can receive a Cisco certification upon completion), a barista training room (Starbucks managers come in to do mock interviews), and a tile program where works of art are auctioned off. The programs, which enable youth to gain valuable skills while working with their cohort, are very successful. For example, the computer tech program boasts an 80% graduation rate.
The ALA volunteers, who included librarians from around the country and a group of MLIS students from the School of Information at the University of Washington, were both saddened to see that a need for such a place exists and heartened that the work being done there was of such an amazingly high caliber. It was a wonderful feeling to know that librarians would not only visit Seattle to eat, drink, and meet—but to also leave the city a slightly better place.
JAIME HAMMOND is reference and outreach librarian at Naugatuck Valley Community College in Waterbury, Connecticut.