The outbreak of COVID-19, and the mounting restrictions to contain it, have profoundly impacted our communities, businesses, families, and daily lives. Our hearts go out to those affected—particularly to those personally at-risk or who have lost a loved one.
YouthCare serves some of our community’s most vulnerable young people. We cannot shut down—even in dire times. Now, more than ever, young people need safety, shelter, food, and loving care.
The onset of Coronavirus had us escalating our disinfecting cycles, helping youth know the importance of regular hand washing, and learning how to identify and respond to symptoms. Now we must shift gears. Our priorities are twofold:
- Providing young people essential, life-saving services
- Mitigating the risk of exposure for young people, staff, and our community
Amidst the uncertainty, we are grateful for the support of our community. People want to know, “What are you doing?” “How are you feeling?” “What can we do to help?”
Below, we’ll do our best to answer your questions about YouthCare’s needs and services during this time.
What are we doing?
While we deeply appreciate the support of our friends and volunteers, the following measures will go into effect March 20 through May 4 to ensure for everyone’s safety.
- YouthCare’s main office will be closed to the public. A limited set of staff will be onsite to maintain core operations and organize supplies.
- All donations of items have moved online and will be shipped directly to our main office.
- Our volunteer programs are temporarily on hold and will resume as soon as it is safe.
- Our annual luncheon is rescheduled for October 9, 2020.
- Our parking garage is being converted to an urgent pantry for non-perishable food items and hygiene supplies for our programs.
While YouthCare offers a comprehensive range of services to help young people reach lasting stability, right now we are consolidating resources and teams to keep young people safe through this crisis.
- All engagement centers for young adults will move to a shelter-in-place model where young people receive 24/7 shelter, meals, and support in a single location.
- Housing programs for all ages are at-capacity and will be similarly moving to a 24/7-care cycle.
- Emergency shelter services for minors have been merged into a single location where we can support youth in having a daily schedule that includes activities, crafts, learning, and time in the backyard.
- Regardless of regular role, our entire team is working to keep these core services stable. Those making the commitment to work directly with youth in program at this time will receive time-and-a-half compensation.
What are we experiencing?
No doubt, the fear is real. There are more questions than there are answers and plans keep shifting. Young people are anxious and already holding so much disruption in their lives. We are cautious about the costs and stamina it will take to get through this.
At the same time, we are resolute. We will not quit on young people. Every member of the YouthCare team holds a passion for our mission and for the potential of every young person. The depth of that commitment right now is breathtaking to witness. This is some of the hardest work our staff will do in their lives. It takes incredible resilience. Grit. Courage. Amidst this crisis, they are heroes.
What do we need?
There is one thing we know for sure: our community comes together during times of crisis. During our three-week snow emergency last year, you helped us keep youth warm instead of outside in the freezing cold. After our president enacted cruel policies that separated families at the border, you advocated alongside us in support of keeping families together.
Our staff are doing heroic work every day in these uncertain times—but they simply can’t do it alone. Below are four ways you can help support us right now:
1. Make a gift
The best way you can help us right now is by making a financial gift. Responding to this crisis is costly. Every dollar is powerful. We need to be nimble and meet immediate needs. That requires cash on hand.
2. Donate essential items
We need more food items to support young people. We also need books, art supplies, games, and other items to stay positive and pass the time. You can ship items directly to us here.
We are deeply grateful for all front-line staff, including Amazon warehouse workers who are showing up every day to ensure life-saving supplies reach those in need. We stand in solidarity with them and their right to protection and safety as employees.
3. Join us
We’re all in this together. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to witness acts of courage and inspiration from our heroes. Help us raise awareness about young people experiencing homelessness and the impact of COVID-19 on our work by sharing with you friends and networks.
4. Register for our annual luncheon
Let us know now that you’re excited to join us on October 9th for the rescheduled YouthCare annual luncheon! As always, we’ll have incredible stories of transformation and would love to save you a seat!
The global impacts of COVID-19 will likely take us more than a generation to fully understand. We hope you and your loved ones are staying safe during this time. In the immediate, please know that your love and care sustain us to keep going. Thank you.
Additional Info & Resources
In the midst of this outbreak, we want to remind everyone that a person’s ethnicity, language, or association with a country or region does not mean they carry the virus. Anyone can transmit or become infected. Let’s continue to support one another and avoid the spread of stigma, discrimination, and fear.
General recommendations from the Washington State Department of Health:
- Wash your hands often and avoid touching your face.
- Stay home when you’re sick.
- If you are sick and wondering what to do, call your healthcare provider before you go to a clinic or emergency room.
- Show compassion and support for individuals and communities most closely impacted and anyone who might be sick.
- Learn and be prepared: Visit the WA Department of Health resource page.
- Washington State COVID-19 website
- City of Seattle Community Resource Page
- King County Department of Public Health webpage (for tips and daily updates)
- Handwashing guide from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- New York Times COVID-19 FAQ & e-book
- Anti-stigma resources unique for COVID-19
Please check back to this page for updates in changes to services and needs.