The room was packed for YouthCare’s 37th Annual Luncheon at The Westin last Thursday. Angela Poe Russell emceed an afternoon of inspiration and community gathering as we heard from YouthCare leadership, announced this year’s Community Impact Honoree award, and heard from the young people in our programs. There was not a dry eye in the room!

We are so grateful to our generous sponsors who stepped up as champions in raising donations for programs supporting youth, and to our faithful table captains and challenge pool donors. Their generosity and commitment light the way for the work we do. Our wonderful staff also put in tireless effort to make the afternoon a success – and we are so grateful to them! Last, but certainly not least, we are inspired by our community as nearly 800 guests joined to raise support for YouthCare’s mission to end youth homelessness.

Ken Robertson, YouthCare’s Board President, kicked off the event, followed by an address from CEO, Degale Cooper. Degale gave an impassioned speech highlighting the growing social and economic instability facing our young people and affirmed YouthCare’s commitment to intentional programming that is culturally responsive. Degale also announced an exciting new building project for YouthCare on the corner of Broadway and Pine, The Constellation Center, that will feature housing, employment training, and services all in one center.

The Constellation Center will allow us to join forces with other service providers, combine our resources, and create a stronger, more effective safety net for young people. It will be a hub where young people can gather and have full access to educational services, job training and placement, alongside stabilizing housing and social and behavioral health services that are developmentally and culturally responsive.

Degale Cooper
degale cooper speaking
Meagan Romney Photography

Degale also announced Sheri Schultz of the Schultz Family Foundation as this year’s Community Impact Honoree and highlighted the dedication that Sheri has shown to young people over the years.

Sheri is a fierce advocate and champion of young people. Sheri and the Schultz Family Foundation have been long-time supporters of YouthCare. In fact, YouthCare was one of the organizations that inspired her to create the Foundation.

Degale Cooper

Taking the stage next was youth speaker, Layla, who told of her experiences with foster care and psychiatric facilities. Layla’s story was moving, courageous, and full of hope. Watch Layla’s speech below:

Next up, youth speaker Cristian took the stage. Cristian told of his time growing up in a homeless shelter and of the struggles throughout his childhood, and of how his time at YouthBuild gave him a path to a job and future he loves. Watch Cristian’s speech below:

The afternoon ended with a word from Greg Moye of YouthCare’s Board of Directors. Greg spoke of the subtle ways a troubled childhood can hide in plain sight and inspired the room to support the programs and services that are in place for young people.

greg moye speaks
Meagan Romney Photography

The afternoon was a wonderful success, and we are grateful to everyone who attended in support of young people. If you were unable to make it out, there’s still time to get involved and make a Luncheon donation in support of our young people!

We can’t wait to see you at YouthCare’s next Luncheon where we will celebrate YouthCare’s 50th anniversary!