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ceo message | august 2023

Updated: Sep 12, 2023

As I reflect on our last fiscal year and collective efforts to ensure youth face zero days of vulnerability, I am grateful to have this space to share some critical accomplishments.

Thanks to capital funding for Affordable Housing from the King County Department of Community and Human Services, Friends of Youth started the renovation and expansion of our New Ground Kirkland Affordable Housing program services. Additionally, support from A Regional Coalition for Housing (ARCH) and the Washington State Department of Commerce towards the project, will ensure the agency can provide affordable housing to unhoused young adults.

Last fiscal year we achieved our two-year planning vision of identifying and acquiring a site to serve as Friends of Youth’s new Shelter, Drop-In and Support Services in Kirkland. As the only overnight emergency shelter for young adults on the Eastside, this was a fulfillment of a key step in meeting the current needs of unsheltered young adults, while ensuring appropriate services are available to clients seeking them.

The acquisition and renovation of the site will significantly expand our agency's capacity to provide 35 beds, a safe place to stay, quality meals through the addition of a commercial kitchen, commercial laundry amenities, a dedicated health area, but most of all, caring employees to assist our clients in a dignified way.

US Congresswoman DelBene,Many youths experiencing homelessness in east King County have few options for where to turn when they’re in crisis. This $1 million federal investment that I secured for Friends of Youth’s new Willows Youth Services Center will help expand the number of beds and the services available to Eastside youth and young adults when they need it most.”

US Senator Patty Murray, Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee,Friends of Youth does really important work assisting youth experiencing homelessness and providing support for mental and behavioral health challenges. I was delighted to hear about how federal funds I secured are helping them build a new facility to further their critical mission. In the Senate, I’ll keep doing everything I can to tackle the housing and homelessness crises—absolutely everyone deserves a roof over their head and a safe place to call home.”

Washington State Representative Lisa Callan, "There's never been more demand and more need. I'm so excited for the expanded services on the eastside, and the bold vision and direction that Friends of Youth is providing."

King County Councilmember Claudia Balducci, “Local governments supporting efforts and agencies such as Friends of Youth must start and lead with the humanity of trying to help people who are suffering and try to give them what they need, to address the root causes of homelessness, and then give them homes, I think ultimately that is the path to success for everybody.”

The new Willows Youth Services Center was made possible by you, our partners, and the extraordinary advocacy of State Representative, Lisa Callan of the 5th District, who advocated for financial support from Washington State to help make this dream possible.

This great news was followed by additional support to make the necessary building improvements to the facility by:

  • Congresswoman Suzan DelBene and Senator Patty Murray

  • King County Councilwoman Claudia Balducci

  • Regional Coalition for Housing ARCH

  • Washington State Building Community Fund

  • Washington State Department of Commerce

  • Aven Foundation

  • Amazon

Last fiscal year our Homeless Youth Services Division re-started our Street Outreach work that was suspended during the COVID-19 pandemic. Thanks to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Runaway Youth, the resumption of outreach efforts will help connect youth facing vulnerable circumstances to the services and resources they need.

In the Fall of 2023, we look forward to celebrating the grand opening of Willows Youth Services Center, and a 15-unit young adult Affordable Housing complex in Kirkland. We recognize that our work in supporting youth and young adults in a trauma-informed and dignified way requires a deeper youth focus, further program strengthening, and continued community support.

I would like to express my deepest gratitude to each of you for your generosity. Your partnership impacts our clients, our community, and our agency. Your generosity, friendship, and advocacy contributed to our success this past fiscal year. You help make Friends of Youth a special community of support for our region.

Thank you all,

Paul Lwali

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