Connect For Good—and to Stop Homelessness

By United Way of King County, on March 20, 2019 | In Emerging Leaders 365, Fighting Homelessness, Success Stories

Connect for Good offers young professionals in our Emerging Leaders group a chance to really engage with how United Way’s programs change Seattle for the better. The Connect For Good program offers a crash course on our focus areas (racial equity in grant making, how quality early childhood education means brighter futures for students and the whole community, etc), the chance to fundraise and evangelize, plus an immersive volunteer experience to see a program at work. Twenty Emerging Leaders just finished a Connect for Good session about homelessness and the Community Resource Exchange. Here are two of their stories:

Mark Routon, of Pellego:
Connect For Good was a wonderful, empowering exercise in community building and hands-on engagement. By combining in-depth education with clear, actionable steps, our group of 20 was able to raise nearly $6,000 in a few weeks. Mind you, pretty much none of us had any fundraising experience, but thanks to our United Way organizers’ leadership, we made a noteworthy contribution to tackling homelessness in King County.

The culmination of our efforts was at United Way of King County’s incredible annual event, the Community Resource Exchange. There, more than a thousand people who are either low-income or experiencing homelessness are provided with essential items and services they need to be safe, comfortable, and have the opportunity to get ahead. From employers hiring on site to free haircuts and foot washing, to legal and housing assistance to clothes and toiletries, this is an amazing event. Our Connect For Good team worked the store, where we distributed toothpaste, feminine hygiene products, shirts, shoes, pants, jackets and blankets, all while getting to shake the hands and see the faces of people experiencing an issue that is far too often dehumanized.

The Connect For Good sessions also fostered some great network building with other socially-conscious young professionals. I personally loved all the connections I made and look forward to working with these folks at future events. I’m grateful for this experience, and I am excited to continue supporting United Way of King County.

From Erick Arteaga, Retail Operation Analyst for REI Co-Op:
Through the Emerging Leaders 365 program, I was able to be part of a group that works to end homelessness in Seattle and King County. The program was three-fold: a class session, where we learned about the issue and causes; a hybrid session, part class and preparing for the event; and volunteering at the Community Resource Exchange.

Upon arriving at the event I worked at the children’s clothes section at the store. A few children passed through the section, and seeing them smile made me stay past my three hour shift. I also attended the Changemaker Rally that was being held on the 5th floor of the CenturyLink . Once the rally ended, I went back downstairs. Seeing that the store had given out everything, I went towards the front to see if the guides needed anything.

A tour guide came in speaking Spanish with a man that walked through the doors. Although I speak Spanish, I was nervous it was proficient enough for this. With little time before Resource Exchange closed, we went straight to the Jobs Connect section. As we walked over I learned as much as I could about this man. This quickly turned into us chatting about life. We went from station to station getting applications, contacts and emails to ensure whomever received his email would be able to speak Spanish. We continued talking and I saw a younger version of my father when he first came to the U.S. It honestly pushed me more to make sure we got this man every opportunity available before he left. At the end of this, we gave each other a handshake and a hug.

I left Community Resource Exchange extremely motivated and excited to see what else I can do to help my community.


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