It has been over two months since Washington State began its shelter-place-order and YouthCare reconfigured our program models and services. Through this time, YouthCare worked on contingency planning for how to respond if a youth or staff tested positive for COVID-19. We’re grateful that when COVID-19 recently arrived at YouthCare’s Orion Center, and then YouthCare’s Jackson Street Shelter, our staff acted quickly with support from the community to find creative solutions to keep every young person in our care safe.

Following onsite testing administered by King County Public Health, we needed space to quarantine young people—space we did not have. Time was of the essence. Running out of options, our CEO Melinda, walked over to YouthCare’s friend and neighbor SpringHill Suites By Marriott, located just behind the Orion Center, and asked for help. Incredibly, SpringHill Suites By Marriott saved the day, as they have done time and time again. They provided an entire hotel floor to quarantine staff and youth as they awaited their test results. They are our #hotelheroes.

This story of heroism isn’t complete without recognition of our staff, who navigated this crisis, adapted, and showed up stronger than ever for young people. A few staff shared their perspectives in a story by Sydney Brownstone at the Seattle Times last week. Here’s a reflection on what gives Semone, Orion Center’s Engagement Services Project Manager, hope in these precarious times:

Charese and Semone at Orion Center

Read more about the experiences of human services workers during this pandemic here.

Throughout all that has happened, one theme arises again and again in this crisis: resilience.  

Resilience abounds in the youth we serve, who are surviving in this pandemic—without their parents or guardians.

“Our clients are doing this on their own without their parents. I think about myself—I couldn’t do this on my own. They are so strong and so resilient, but they don’t know it. Telling them they’re powerful gives me hope.” – Semone

Resilience abounds in our staff, who are committed to being a rock of stability for homeless youth.

And finally, resilience abounds in our community, who in this defining moment in our history, have come together to support youth.

Keeping youth safe through this pandemic is hard. And it’s costly. If you’d like to help us continue doing this life-saving work, please consider making a donation. We deeply appreciate our community for helping us be the safety net youth need right now.

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