Guest blogger Jordan McKerney is a marketing communications professional and a volunteer with the United Way Emerging Leaders marketing committee, where she focuses on planning and promoting volunteer opportunities.
Every Seattleite knows the Holiday Carousel in Westlake Park. It’s a true fixture of the downtown holiday scene – surrounded by the Macy’s star, the Westlake Tree and streets full of twinkling lights and bustling shoppers. But did you know that every year, the proceeds from the Downtown Seattle Association’s Holiday Carousel make a huge impact in our community?
I recently got to learn about this impact first-hand as a carousel volunteer with a group of amazing Emerging Leaders. This year, the carousel proceeds benefit Treehouse, an awesome organization that provides youth in foster care with support for their basic needs, education and development. These efforts play an important role in furthering United Way’s mission of building a community where people have homes, students graduate and families are financially stable. In fact, a United Way grant of more than $53,000 helps over 100 youth achieve their educational goals by decreasing barriers to success in school, increasing school attendance, enhancing success in English classes and decreasing behavioral issues.
At the carousel, I worked the ticket sales booth and had the chance to tell the excited kids and cheery adults how their ticket proceeds would make a difference in the community. And as we counted the ticket stubs from the evening, we really got to think about the good that would come as a result of all this holiday cheer.
Because many kids in our community are facing significant challenges. Did you know that 50% of youth in foster care have chronic medical conditions? Or that the average foster youth loses about six months of progress in school due to changes in their home placements? As a result of their many challenges, half of foster youth will not graduate high school on time and 33% of former foster care youth are currently living below the poverty line.
These are statistics that Treehouse and many other organizations are working to improve. And with supporters like United Way, the Downtown Seattle Association and the many carousel riders, I hope they make real progress in the New Year!