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ceo update | willows ribbon cutting ceremony event

On Saturday, October 28, 2023, Friends of Youth welcomed guests to witness the ribbon cutting ceremony for the Willows Youth Service Center in Kirkland. This new facility, opening later this year to clients, will replace the Landing in Redmond and serve as the only emergency shelter in east King County for young adults, ages 18 to 24.

Honored ribbon cutters and speakers including Congresswoman Suzan DelBene, Claudia Balducci King County Councilmember, Amy Falcone, Kirkland City Councilmember, Lisa Callan, Washington State Representative, Liana Wood, Friends of Youth program service participant, Jackelyne Juarez Garcia, Friends of Youth program services participant, Amy Liu, Microsoft, Alex Lee, Chair, Friends of Youth Board and Liz Trautman, community partner.

Guests, including volunteers, board members, supports and employees, were among the first people to tour the 7,000 square foot shelter. Guest Brad Blackburn III, MPA, Community Engagement and In-Kind Manager for Identity Unboxed reflected, “It brought me great joy attending the Friends of Youth ribbon cutting ceremony for their new facility. One of my favorite things about this facility was the individual bed spaces that provide some privacy and separation between those seeking shelter. I look forward to witnessing the impact this facility will have on youth and young adults in transforming their lives.”

In addition to enhanced privacy, the new facility provides shelter and services to up to 35 young adults every night, more than doubling the current capacity of the Landing. Their needs will be met with warm meals from a commercial kitchen, showers, and laundry facilities. They will also have access to support in separate spaces for case management, day drop-in services and a health room for visiting nurses.

This new facility was made possible in large part because of the support by government agencies and donors including the Washington State Department of Commerce, the US House of Representatives Appropriations Committee, King County Housing Finance Program, WaFd Bank, Friends of Youth Foundation, Microsoft, Aven Foundation, Joshua P. Williams Foundation, Amazon, and Meta.

I am grateful for the support of agencies and donors and to the employees and contractors who helped realize our shared vision of the new facility. Willows Youth Services Center fulfills our vision that vulnerable young adults will be provided with safe and supportive program services by caring employees who support clients in a dignified, inclusive, and client-centered way. My hope is that word spreads of this new resource and that young adults experiencing housing insecurity and in need of our program services will know that if they come to us, good things will happen and that they can hope for a better future.

Thank you all for your continued support,

Paul Lwali

President and CEO

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