After nearly three years of pandemic pause, YouthCare’s 36th Annual Luncheon returned to the Westin for a moving afternoon of inspiration, community connection, and vision sharing. We heard from YouthCare’s new CEO, Degale Cooper, we introduced our new Community Impact Honoree award, and we heard stories of perseverance and hope from our amazing young people. The energy in the room held joy and hope as we reunited once again in support of young people and our shared commitment to them.

We are so grateful to our generous sponsors who helped to lead the charge in raising donations for programs supporting youth. We also could not have done it without our wonderful staff and volunteers and the courage of our youth speakers who took the stage to share their stories. We were able to raise over $417,000 from over 500 attendees!

The event kicked off with a welcome from YouthCare alumni emcee, Stasia, and a word from board chair Ken Robertson, followed by an inaugural speech from YouthCare’s new CEO, Degale Cooper. Degale reiterated YouthCare’s commitment to excellence in service to young people, to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and to YouthCare’s community of partners that work so hard alongside us.

degale speaks on stage
Meagan Romney Photography

Degale then announced the recipients of YouthCare’s new Community Impact Honoree award: One Roof Foundation, The Seattle Kraken, and Climate Pledge Arena. The CIH award is to recognize those “who are leading the way in action, advocacy, and community engagement to end youth homelessness”. One Roof Foundation, The Seattle Kraken, and Climate Pledge Arena have stood out for their compassion and for their leadership in partnering with YouthCare to end youth homelessness. We are thrilled to be able to honor them in this way. Below is a video presented at the luncheon that was created to describe this wonderful partnership.

Video by VIA Creatives

Next, our youth speakers took the stage and told their stories with courage and grace. Corey spoke of coming to Seattle in search of a fresh start and of the obstacles that followed him here. Through the University District Youth Center, he was able to find supportive community, education, housing, and employment with the help of staff there. He also discovered a passion for art that has inspired him to look towards a creative future where he can express his values and inspire others.

Mackenzie told of the hardships she endured while growing up and the turbulent path it led her to. Life was difficult and full of abuse from the start, and it took everything she could do to just get by. Meeting Maddison Story, a caseworker at YouthCare, helped her to get a fresh start and gain a caring community of people who were there for her no matter what. With YouthCare’s support, Mackenzie was able to get her GED, find housing, and begin working.

Watch Corey and Mackenzie’s speeches from the luncheon

We also saw a new “Who We Are” video featuring YouthCare’s mission and staff, followed by former YouthCare Interim CEO, Colleen Echohawk, concluding the afternoon with an impassioned message of support and commitment for young people in need. She urged the community to come together in support of our marginalized and struggling youth and to remember the urgency of our mission. Thank you, Colleen, for your support and time as YouthCare’s interim CEO!

Video by VIA Creatives
Colleen speaks on stage
Meagan Romney Photography

Thank you to everyone who came out and joined us in support of youth in need! We can’t wait to see you next year at the next Luncheon! Save the date for March 23rd, 2023!