Emerging Leaders’ Connect for Good Fights Summer Hunger
This blog post was written by Chris Partridge (pictured above), a member of Emerging Leaders 365.
Connect for Good introduced me to United Way of King County’s Summer Meals program, which positively impacts local kids and their families by serving hundreds of thousands of free meals every summer. Being new to Seattle, I saw this as a chance to learn about my community and get involved in a meaningful way.
Connect for Good was uniquely rewarding because, unlike standard one-off volunteering experiences, about 20 of us in Emerging Leaders 365 committed to three scheduled activities over three weeks. Together, we learned in educational sessions and discussions about the historical context of poverty in Seattle. Aspects like the Summer Slide, aka a learning loss that can occur when kids don’t have educational stimulation over the summer, putting many of them at a disadvantage. We received coaching and encouragement from United Way’s team on how to raise funds. Once the Summer Meals program kicked off, we were much more familiar with the program and how we were contributing. I was invested.
Our experience culminated with the Summer Meals event. The objective of this event was to get families to come out, enjoy the day and learn about the Summer Meals program. My fellow Emerging Leaders 365 and I worked to create a fun atmosphere for the kids, managing all kinds of activities from games to face painting. I helped out at the obstacle course with a couple other volunteers. It was super fun to cheer on the kids, give them prizes, and of course I had to run the obstacle course myself a couple times, to show them how it was done. It was a great time…Even Batman was there!
At the end of the day, I sat in a shaded, grassy area and reflected: It was immensely rewarding to dig into an issue facing our community and help United Way of King County address it. I am grateful for the opportunity to play some small part in supporting such an important program. I feel empowered to be more involved, and can’t wait to sign up for future events and continue to be part of Emerging Leaders 365.