YouthCare’s 38th Annual Luncheon and 50th Anniversary Celebration was an event to remember!

At the 38th Annual Luncheon and 50th Anniversary Celebration, YouthCare welcomed an enthusiastic crowd of over 900 generous table captains, donors, sponsors, and supporters who heard from YouthCare leadership and client alumni, watched a powerful video by VIA Creatives, and honored the last 50 years of dedicated service that YouthCare has provided. There was even a special lead-in performance by the West Woodland Elementary Wildcat Choir!

The highlight of the afternoon was listening to Dr. Mark Bennet, a former YouthCare client who recently earned his Ph.D. in Mathematics from the University of Washington. Mark shared about YouthCare staff and fellow community partners who helped him get to where he is today. He culminated his remarkable speech by calling his family up on stage with a message of love and gratitude for them. By the end there was a standing ovation and not a dry eye in the room!

Watch Mark’s speech:

Emcee Angela Poe Russell opened the event with a warm welcome and introduced Ken Robertson, YouthCare’s Board President. Ken kicked off the program with a word about the importance of support for YouthCare in its special 50th year, followed by messages from Degale Cooper, YouthCare CEO; Emma York-Jones, YouthCare Chief Program and Impact Officer; Dr. Mark Bennet, YouthCare client alumni; and a rousing ask from Washington State Representative Julia Reed.

Watch Ken’s welcome message:

Degale emphasized the life-changing impact of YouthCare for young people over the past five decades, and shared her own journey, starting as a YouthCare House Counselor at 20 years old, to becoming the agency’s CEO today. Degale also announced exciting news about YouthCare’s future – this summer’s groundbreaking for the Constellation Center where young people will find hope, connection, and opportunity. JoAnn and Larry Sims, YouthCare’s founders, joined her on stage to deliver a special thank you message to everyone in the crowd!

Watch Degale’s message:

Emma told of her time working as an engagement specialist at Isis House in 2009, supporting clients in the LGBTQIA+ community, and of the critical impact YouthCare’s workforce development partners have made in providing employment opportunities to young people. Emma now oversees YouthCare programs, working to create pathways for clients to move forward.

Watch Emma’s speech:

The afternoon culminated with Mark’s moving speech and his remarkable story of showing up at the Orion Center with nothing but a duffle bag, to his recent Ph.D. graduation from the University of Washington. Mark’s standing ovation was followed by a rousing call by Representative Reed to support the next 50 years of YouthCare and the vital services that continue to support young people on their journeys.

We are so grateful to everyone who showed up to support youth in our community. A special thank you to our generous sponsors, table captains, and challenge pool partners, along with our dedicated staff and volunteers who all worked to make this such a memorable event.

If you were unable to attend this year, there is still time to make an impact! Click the link below to make a luncheon donation today!

We have much more planned for this special 50th Anniversary year and with your support, we will continue to support young people on their path to stable and meaningful futures!

P.S. Be sure not to miss this special video, aired at the Luncheon, that illustrates the vision of YouthCare’s workforce development programs for young people:

Video by VIA Creatives

All Photos by Michael B. Maine