Connecting with Community over an Ethan Stowell Cooking Demo

By United Way of King County, on September 16, 2020 | In Change Makers, News

Philip Rueker, and his partner Julianna are Change Maker donors, who met while volunteering for United Way’s Free Tax program. In addition to his day job as a senior software engineer, Philip serves on the Change Makers Committee.

This year has been challenging in many ways and many of the programs that United Way provides are needed now more than ever.

To share some of the ways that United Way has been able to help our community in this time, and to thank the United Way Change Makers, the first Change Maker Celebration was held last month online.

The event was hosted by incoming Campaign Co-Chair Ethan Stowell, who hosted the event as a virtual cook along from his backyard grill and moderated by Ruel Olanday, Impact Manager from United Way.

Before the event we were able to pick up an ingredient kit from one of Ethan’s restaurants in Seattle and were invited to cook along, while learning about some of the impact United Ways programs have made in the community.

“This is probably the most social we have felt in months and it helped us connect with the community.”

Stephan Blanford, who has been a board member for United Way for six years and is Co-Chair for the Change Makers Committee, shared that there are now over 1,300 donors at the Change Makers level who have committed to donate $100 or more a month annually.

Sr. Director for Ending Homelessness & Poverty at United Way, Lauren McGowan, shared that one of the most effective ways to address homelessness is to work upstream and prevent evictions and in 2018 together with the Mariners and Microsoft, United Way launched the Homebase program.

Early in 2020 during COVID-19, United Way launched the Community Relief Fund to help people with rental assistant and access to food. In just four months, they were able to help 3,000 households and 9,000 individuals to stay in their homes—70% were people of color.

Along with sponsoring the event and providing us with the delicious ingredients, Ethan shared many tips of the trade on making a delicious meal.  We put together a great heirloom tomato salad, following along with Chef Ethan’s tips on preparing the food and how to cook steaks, chicken and other proteins and then got on grilling some vegetables and our polenta.

The event was a great success and probably the most social we have felt in months and helped us connect with the community and it was wonderful to see so many Change Makers come together virtually.

If you’re looking for some ideas to get involved, United Way is hosting some small group Eat, Drink & Be Generous events in the coming weeks and months and the special edition of this year’s Days of Caring, 5 days, 5 ways, is happening September 14 – 18th with some ways you can get involved virtually.

As a final takeaway I will borrow Lauren’s call to action to get up and give support to make sure that everyone in our community has a safe, decent, and affordable place to sleep.


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