As the holidays approach, charities are receiving considerable attention. But many of these organizations need year-round assistance. One such organization is Teen Feed, which provides dinner, medical, housing and job assistance, as well as counseling and a place to hang out, for the homeless youth of the University District.
Teen Feed began in 1986 when nurses at UW Medical Center noticed that many of the youth who came in were malnourished. From then on, Teen Feed has been in the U District working to help homeless youth. In 2009, volunteers served more than 11,000 meals and case managers assisted 60 homeless youth enter into stable housing.
Every night, Teed Feed serves between 40 and 70 homeless youth under the age of 25. On the first Friday of each month, a group of passionate volunteers from the UW forms a Meal Team and, together, they provide the menu and materials for dinner. They cook and serve it to the attendees, then clean up and send any leftover food to the Rising Out of the Shadows (ROOTS) Youth Shelter located in the basement of the nearby University Temple United Methodist Church.
The UW Alumni Association has been involved with Teen Feed for some time through its annual Holiday Party, where every youth attending receives a gift. These gifts are the product of donations given to Teen Feed throughout the year as well as a two-week Holiday Drive engineered by the UW volunteers. This year, socks, sleeping bags, gloves, hats, scarves, backpacks and hooded sweatshirts were the most needed items from the drive. The turnout at the Holiday Party was higher than expected.
Anyone interested in volunteering with Teen Feed can learn more on the Teen Feed site. The “Volunteer” tab includes information on Advocates, who work directly with the youth, Meal Teams, who make and serve the meals, and Weeklies, volunteers under the age of 18 who help the meal teams once a week.