With the holidays just around the corner, it’s hard to miss the snowflakes in storefront displays, the lights on downtown streets, and the twinkly trees, menorahs, or otherwise in the windows of the apartments built way too close to yours for comfort (what is IN that giant wrapped box in their living room anyways?)
What’s more difficult to see is the problem of homelessness and financial instability that – a year after Mayor Murray declared a state of emergency in Seattle – still affects the lives of far too many people in our communities. It’s a problem that hides in dark corners (because they’re dry, and offer some protection from the harsh winter weather) or shelters that we far too often hurry past (heads tucked into our scarves and bent against the wind).
However, there is a bright spot in what seems to be an ever-bleak outlook for those in need: the next generation of Seattleites coming together to tackle the challenge head-on. United Way’s Emerging Leaders know that the future of the city depends on the actions we take now, and we’re committed to the work of building a community where people have homes and families are financial stable. In the past six months, we’ve made an incredible difference here in King County, and we spent last weekend celebrating Emerging Leaders’ impact.
We toasted to more than a thousand hours spent volunteering with 24 different agencies, from food pantries to shelters to organizations that provide resources like diapers and books. Even as we celebrated, though, we knew the work wasn’t even close to finished – so we rolled up our sleeves and got right back to it. We finished the day packing 200+ hygiene kits for YouthCare, which provides resources for our vulnerable young people, and decorating fifteen dozen cookies for Mary’s Place, a safe space and shelter for women and families.
For Emerging Leaders, the best part of the holidays isn’t the stores or the trees or even the neighbors’ strange choice in wrapping paper. It’s knowing, as we bundle up and see the cheer around us, that we were able to spread that cheer to the people and families for whom the season doesn’t shine so bright – and maybe put an extra twinkle in their holidays.