Each year the board at SafeFutures gears up to celebrate another year of community service with you at our fall pancake breakfast. With all that has happened this year, many of us have been left questioning - What does community mean? What does service look like?
Our community has been shaken, both nationally and at home. We serve many youth of color who, given the barriers they face daily in our school systems, seek positive role models and mentoring to achieve academic success. When coronavirus prematurely shut schools this spring, many youth lacked the tools and resources necessary to connect remotely to keep up with their studies. The murders of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd by the police in March and May reignited fear and anger, and resurfaced unhealed pain from the loss of local neighbors including John T. Williams and Charleena Lyles. King County’s Black, Indigenous and youth of color see violence and intimidation from law enforcement and cities struggling to answer loud calls for change and justice.
Even with this context we want to share a message of hope. One inspired by those involved with SafeFutures -The board has been humbled to follow the amazing resourcefulness and resilience displayed by SafeFutures staff, who adapted to serve young people across King County within days of schools being closed in March. Programming moved to virtual meetings, check-in conversations to FaceTime and text messages. Staff guided families on critical topics such as how to social distance, apply for assistance, and take care of themselves in several different languages. SafeFutures received funds from the Seattle Foundation, Seattle Seahawks and Bezos Foundation that were rapidly distributed to youth and families.
Youth who wanted to raise their voices and shout that Black Lives Matter were listened to and encouraged. Our staff worked with our youth on self-advocacy, and together they started the Youth Voices of SafeFuture’s podcast on Youtube and Facebook. Many achieved personal successes including graduations and staying focused on studies despite being separated from friends and teachers. The leadership shown by our staff is incredible, especially as they were doubling down on their youth outreach at the same time as navigating Covid-19 with their own families. Thank you is not strong enough, but sincerely, Thank You.
And we invite you to get involved too. We would love to see you all in October for coffee and pancakes, but that’s not possible this year. So in 2020 we have three asks for your service to build a stronger community in Seattle and South King County –
1. Stop and listen – engage with our youth, staff and community leaders via the Youth Voices of SafeFuture’s podcast on Youtube and Facebook. If you hear something that makes you pause, or resonates with your experience, please share these resources.
2. Donate to support SafeFutures programming and staff – help us continue to support youth as we pay fair wages to our staff despite funding challenges due to corona virus https://www.sfyc.net/fund-us Remember that your employer might be able to match your gift. A former board member connected us with a grant from her workplace earlier this summer – reach out if you know of similar opportunities.
3. Join us – We are looking for board members who are able to invest a couple of hours a month supporting our Executive Director and spreading the story of SafeFutures in their networks. We also have periodic volunteer tutoring opportunities. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.