Emerging Leaders Reach New Heights at June Happy Hour and Hellos

By United Way of King County, on June 18, 2024 | In Breaking the Cycle of Poverty, Emerging Leaders 365, Events, Fighting Homelessness, Racial Equity

This blog post was written by Kayla Dunn, United Way of King County editorial associate.

King County looked almost flat from that height, stretching out 902 feet below. The attendees pointed out their apartment buildings while sipping cocktails from the open bar. Bottles of wine, Mariner’s gear, and a trip to Barbados were raffled off as door prizes.

“But we’re here for a greater purpose,” said Emerging Leader Ari Varley. “What I love about the work United Way of King County does is its focus on racial equity because this is where the greatest disparities in our community exist.”

United Way of King County’s mission is built upon three pillars: homelessness, food insecurity, and access to education. United Way is committed to addressing the racial inequities that have historically undermined progress in all three areas.

Ari said United Way’s work in homelessness prevention had inspired her and led to her decision to become an emerging leader two years earlier.

To be an Emerging Leader, people commit to donating $1 daily to United Way of King County, giving them access to a group of like-minded young professionals with one huge thing in common: a fierce commitment to giving back to their community.

With the $365 annual donation to United Way (which most people pay through a monthly $30 donation), Emerging Leaders not only give back, but they also get access to volunteer events and Happy Hour and Hellos, a quarterly happy hour for young professionals to mingle and defeat the Seattle freeze.

With about 100 attendees, June’s Happy Hour and Hellos event thinned the ice.

“The energy was electric,” said Brian Bowers, an Emerging Leader committee member.

“The highlight of the night was certainly the Barbados raffle,” Bowers laughed. “The sheer enthusiasm that our community rallied around the winner with fully embodied the spirit we like to cultivate with the Emerging Leaders committee. It’s a testament to how close-knit the committee is.”

Emerging Leaders who want to commit to community activism can join the EL365 committee. In doing so, they work with United Way to plan the events, volunteer opportunities, and messaging that all Emerging Leaders can access. Not to mention, they make friendships (like Bowers highlighted).

He explained that it was at a United Way event very similar to this one that Bowers decided to become an Emerging Leader. President and CEO Gordon McHenry Jr. had spoken about how United Way helps students graduate and keeps families housed.

Bowers said that the incessant quantification of everything—how every dollar has a purpose—spoke to him. He loved that United Way has access to many charities in the community and a like-minded group of people in Seattle, so he joined the committee.

 “It really is a gateway to get involved in the community,” Bowers said.

The event raised $1,525 and, hopefully, inspired some plus ones to join the Emerging Leaders community.


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