Yesterday evening, YouthCare held its annual Art & Appreciation Night, hosted generously by our partners (and amazing Orion Center neighbors), Marriott Hill SpringSuites!
It was a night filled with reflections, laughter, and mingling with community members. We had a great time honoring our volunteers, board members, staff, and donors, and learning about how YouthCare’s amazing art programs help young people heal, grow, and learn to express themselves through art.
Each year, we showcase art from YouthCare’s Tile Project, a 10-week pre-employment training program where youth experiencing homelessness gain job-readiness skills while learning art techniques and creating beautiful tile pieces. There were several new mosaics and thoughtful social-justice ornaments added this year!
“One of the biggest connectors we have to young people is through art programs like the Tile Project. These programs offer youth the ability work with someone one-one-one and start to trust people as they explore art.” – Melinda, CEO
This year, we were excited to highlight two newer art programs: People of Color Street Arts & the Art Hive, housed at YouthCare’s University District Youth Center (UDYC).
The People of Color Street Arts Program gives young people the opportunity to create and present various works of art in the community while exploring social justice and cultural intersections that exist in the world around them.
“P.O.C. Street Arts elevates young black and brown youth to not limit themselves, and see themelves as artists. Youth learn from a master-level curriculum from their teacher, Alex, who started the program… The gentleman who created these paintings is now an artist in our community.” – Jason, UDYC Program Manager
The Art Hive at UDYC is an open art studio that seeks to cultivate community engagement, self-care, and creative expression through community-led projects.
The event was a full-circle experience for YouthCare staff, Laura Caldwell. Laura has a background in Art Therapy and first got involved with YouthCare as a volunteer at the Orion Center. She moved into a role at UDYC and kicked off the Art Hive Program.
“I realized there is this aspect to the Art Hive and art-marking—and that is the aspect of play. I think we take for granted how much we can experience that in our lives. But our youth don’t get that very much. They don’t always get the time to just be themselves and explore ideas about themselves.
It’s so important because we are catching youth at this cusp of identity formation, where they are forming ideas about themselves. And sometimes those ideas can be really stigmatized. So, for me, the work I do at the Art Hive, allows them to re-write some of those narratives about themselves and their self-identities.” – Laura, Community Outreach Youth Counselor
We also highlighted some of the amazing work of our volunteers and supporters. Last year, more than 40,000 meals were served by volunteers. We are so grateful for the 1,600+ volunteers that help YouthCare achieve its mission every year!
We ended the evening with some remarks from our fearless leader, Melinda:
“We’re all seeing Seattle continue to struggle with homelessness. I’ll say one thing: If we’re going to prevent adult homelessness, we have to stop youth homelessness. Together, with all of you, I feel that we have a really good chance. So thank you for the hours, time, heart, and gifts that you give to us everyday to help us end this crisis.” – Melinda, CEO
Check our gallery below for more photos from the event!