Editor’s note: This is the last in a series of UW Todays stories profiling agencies that receive funds through the Combined Fund Drive, Washington states workplace giving campaign. The theme of this year’s drive is “Imagine the Difference We Can Make.”
The folks at UW Advancement just cant look away from the challenges of homeless youth in the University District. So theyre helping out, serving free meals in partnership with Teen Feed, a nonprofit agency thats also a Combined Fund Drive (CFD) choice.
Through the CFD, members of the UW community can choose from among 2,800 nonprofit agencies to support with one-time or ongoing donations. So far this year, the campaign has raised just over $1.9 million. The campaign has been extended by one week, and will end on Friday, Dec. 10.
“Its something you really cant ignore,” said Katie Harkins, project manager for the Annual Giving Programs office, located in UW Tower. “You go on the street for lunch and see this diverse community. Were lucky to have the University in this urban environment, but I think there are responsibilities that come with that, and you can choose to ignore them or choose to do something about it.”
Teen Feed provides such meals every day of the week. The agency was started by UW Nursing staff in the 1980s, when they became concerned about malnutrition they saw among young homeless people treated at the hospital, and has kept going ever since.
Teen Feeds mission is to work with the community to offer “support to meet basic needs, build strong relationships, and ally with homeless youth as they meet their future off the streets.” The program has a three-pronged approach to helping homeless youth: its meals, its Street Talk Outreach Program (meeting teens who avoid traditional social service agencies) and its Service Links for Youth (for youth ready to begin life away from the streets). In 2009, Teen Feed served 11,313 meals over a total of 272 evenings.
Harkins said the idea to get involved with Teen Feed originated with Kyle Funakoshi, director of alumni relations in the UW Alumni Associations Office of Alumni and Constituent Relations. Others involved in the planning to help Teen Feed were Chantal Carrancho, Christina Chang and Sheila Thayler.
Harkins said it feels good to help. “Its like youre not ignoring a huge part of our community,” she said. “Because young people are part of our community we tend to be focused on students and people and events happening on campus. And it feels good to sort of look at the University District as a whole community, and take responsibility for taking care of all of us.”