Teen Feed – There’s Still Time to Give
October’s Social Justice Plate Collection benefits Teen Feed. Your generosity funds the UUC’s Meal Team and its 15 year partnership with Teen Feed. In particular, these funds cover expenses for groceries and supplies for UUC’s crew to prepare and serve 18 meals each year. With about 1,000 homeless teens in King County, the need is great. Congregants donated over $3,300 last Sunday! Through October 27 you can still give online to this special collection. (Select “Special Plate Collection” from the drop-down menu and enter “October Plate for Teen Feed” in the memo line.)
Our UUC Meal Team spans three generations and five decades, with volunteers from 14 to 67, including UUC youth. Last Sunday, two volunteers shared their experiences: Katie and Romy Vos. They have been volunteering for over a year.
There are so many things that I don’t know or understand about homelessness. Why are so many people experiencing homelessness in Seattle? On any given night in King County, well over 1,000 youth and young adults are estimated as being homeless. How can so many youth be without homes? These are people who, by definition of their age, are working to establish and define themselves, to find their way into adulthood. It is heartbreaking. And of course, I wonder: what can I do that would actually help people who are homeless? Can my efforts really make a difference? As many before me, I turn to the church to support and guide me in grappling with my many questions around this. Thank goodness for a body of people that is bigger than myself, with a longer history and a bigger reach. And I am fortunate to be able to tap into an established program, through UUC’s support of Teen Feed. UUC has been connected with Teen Feed for fifteen years now. Our own Cheryl Musselman has served on the Board for a number of years, and is the current Board President. Teen Feed is a wonderful organization, with multiple approaches to helping young, homeless people work towards safe, healthy lives, with the goal of moving them off the streets. Among other ways of supporting Teen Feed, UUC participates in their Meal Program, which serves a hot, nutritious meal to homeless teens and young adults seven nights a week at different locations in the University district. While they enjoy a healthy meal, the youth can connect with specially trained advocates and staff to access resources and services they might need. Our meal team works together in the kitchen to prepare the food, then we serve it up. UUC’s support allows members of our congregation to participate in hosting, preparing, and serving eighteen meals each year. Beyond our direct UUC involvement, it’s nice to know that Teen Feed opens its doors to 50-80 youth every night of the year in the University District. They serve over 20,000 nutritious meals to hungry youth every year, connect with over 900 individuals, with one-on-one connection and opportunities to receive clothing, meals, health care, a mailing address, employment, housing, and more. The youth that we serve and meet are unique, each with a different story and history. They approach the table with appreciation, sometimes quietly, with greetings, preferences, sometimes with lots of fanfare. They eat lots, or just a little. They scrape their plates into the compost when they are through. They are young, they are doing their best, and it is a privilege to get to serve them. Thank you for your support of this important program.
Ever since I was little, I’ve seen homeless people and wanted to help. It feels bad to walk by someone on the street and feel like you can’t do anything to support them, it’s such a vulnerable situation. Homelessness is such a prevalent issue in Seattle, and something that you just can’t ignore-it can feel really challenging to know what to do. Every year, during the holiday season, my family goes downtown to take pictures with Santa and ride the carousel. I can still clearly remember one Christmas, after a fun evening with my family, getting into the car and just breaking down, crying. I felt so bad being out there having a fun night, dancing around, and walking past person after person who maybe wasn’t in such a good place, and being absolutely powerless to help them. My mom and I first started volunteering with Teen Feed last spring. On my first day, my job was simple-I made some frozen mini tacos, spreading them out evenly across a large pan. As the time got closer to serve the meal, I got more and more nervous. “What do I say?” I asked. And the answer to that is honest-there’s no “right” thing to say to someone as you dish up their food. Just like there’s no “right” thing or perfect solution to homelessness. But for me, Teen Feed is what I can do. I don’t have a job, or tons of my own money, but I do have a Friday evening, every other month, to make pizzas, butter bread, and microwave rice krispy treats in the basement of a church in North Seattle. When I see people coming back for seconds and thirds, I feel like my time is worthwhile. I am helping fulfill someone’s hunger, if only for a night, and this is what I can do.