29 September 2011

Seattle Supersonics? How About SuperChangemakers?!?!

Part two of a three-part "young people are still awesome" series.  This kids are AWESOME!

Corny, I know, but pretty darn true. Malena and I just wrapped up three days in the Space Needle City (you know, it’s not that tall…), complete with delicious pasta, a visit to Pike’s Fish Market (they really launch those fish), lakes, trees, mountains, general fantasticness (can you tell I liked the place) and some absolutely incredible teams.

The first was started by a college fraternity called Sigma Beta Rho. They’ve partnered with the city’s homelessness reduction team to support those individuals most in need ofassistance and activity. The agency places mentally and physically handicapped homeless men and women in subsidized housing where they pay a fixed portion of their Social Security benefits toward rent, allowing them to live the rest of their lives in dignity. Still, these individuals lack a great deal of activity in their lives.

Sigma Beta Rho decided to fill that gap by developing community gardens at a number of these facilities across the city. Last year brought one garden and this year they’ll be expanding to five locations, engaging over a hundred college students in their organizations and hundreds of the community’s residents!

The second team, Kill The Chill, has partnered with Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission Homeless Shelter and Rehabilitation Center to provide hand-made scarves and hats to the residents in what has become Seattle’s coldest month – February. “We really saw how donations poor in during Thanksgiving and Christmas but once New Year passes, we seem to forget that there are still people in need. We’re working to fill that gap,” said Julia, the organization’s Director, who also serves as the Key Club President at her high school. So far they’ve donated over a hundred scarves and are planning a round of hats next. “It’s just the right thing to do,” the group explained.

Our final Seattle visit was with a group called Richard’s Rwanda. Started by 12-year-old Jessica last November, Richard’s Rwanda raises money to pay for tuition, books and clothes for girls in Rwanda who suffered from the 1994 genocide. A man named Richard stayed with her family last summer while doing fundraisers in the Seattle area and Jessica was moved by the stories of young girls in the country who did not have access to education. “I just felt like I had been so lucky my whole life, and I wanted to do something to give young women in Rwanda a chance at being powerful leaders in their country,” Jessica told me. So far they’ve raised $7,000 through fundraisers and bake sales.

We actually stopped by one of these fun-filled affairs. Imagine six 12-year-old girls behind a table covered in cookies, brownies and lemon bars selling for a cause, one of whom was sipping Tab. I mean, Tab? I thought people stopped drinking that in 1986. Their pitch? “Would you like to buy a cookie and support young girls in Rwanda who suffered from the genocide?” How does any decent-minded person say no? Jessica will be returning to Rwanda in August to hand-deliver the money she has raised so far. Her next target? “I want to build a school for girls in the capital city. We’ll get there. I’m confident we’ll get there.” Oh yeah, did I mention she’s twelve?

On to Missoula, Montana next – a pit stop on our northern crossing…more soon!

-Kyle Taylor

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