Moving forward

October 2018: Moving Forward
By Jim Theofelis

A Way Home Washington was thrilled to announce on Sept. 27 at YouthCare’s Orion Center that Pierce, Yakima, Walla Walla and Spokane counties were chosen as the first four communities in the Anchor Community Initiative. What these communities have committed to is tremendous: Ending youth and young adult homelessness by 2022 using data, collaboration and a dedication to equity.

Washington is in a remarkable position to build a true, state-wide system to functionally end youth and young adult homelessness. As such, we have the responsibility to take full advantage of this moment and in the best ways we know how. We have a chance to impact generations of young people and families.

To get where we want to be, we must recognize that we need to change how things are, even if those changes are uncomfortable. We will even have to change our own mindsets. We will have to be ambassadors of hope, believing that this issue is solvable despite the many challenges we face. We will be innovators, taking risks, forming non-traditional partnerships and always seeking continuous improvement. We will be and do all these things while recognizing that there is a great sense of urgency. Without urgency, it is easy to fall back into the same patterns and relationships where we talk a lot but accomplish very little.

We are asking a lot of ourselves and these communities, but I truly believe this effort is the best way to tackle the growing issue of youth and young adult homelessness across our state. Nothing like this has ever been done. We know there is a lot of interest from stakeholders across the state, and nation, and we will do our best to keep you informed through our monthly newsletter.

The enthusiasm and interest in this initiative was made even more apparent when Pearl Jam became one of our partners. We are excited to have their partnership and grateful that they chose us as one of the many efforts to receive financial support from the Home Shows.

Pearl Jam’s involvement in our launch on Sept. 27 was one of many aspects that made the announcement a huge success. If you missed it, you can find the complete video of the launch here.

I also want to acknowledge and thank all our speakers from that day. We were fortunate to have First Lady Trudi Inslee; Sen. Maureen Walsh, R-Walla Walla; Jasmine Hayes, deputy director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness; and Roel Williams, a young person and AWHWA consultant with lived experience, on hand for the event. Their words of encouragement and enthusiasm will guide us as we navigate this initiative together.

Roel’s story, in particular, showed how powerful the system we want to build can be. A wonderful piece by Q13 in Seattle gives you a glimpse of what 13,000 unaccompanied youth in our state face every day. Our goal is to have a system in place in each of these four communities that will prevent youth and young adults like Roel from ever seeing the streets. To see more media from the launch, click here.

I also want to extend a tremendous thank you to YouthCare for letting us use the Orion Center for our launch. Without their team, the launch would have been impossible. As I said in my remarks at the Sept. 27 launch, “Orion Center, like so many programs across our state, is a garden of hope” that has been a beacon of light for the young people we serve.

Also, thank you to each of you for the work you do every day to help us advance our collective mission. We are so fortunate to have such remarkable providers, philanthropists, leadership from the Office of Homeless Youth and, of course, the young people with lived experience at the table in leadership roles.

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” – African Proverb

Let’s go far together …

The A Way Home Washington newsletter will be released monthly. To subscribe, click here. For more information on AWHWA and the Anchor Community Initiative, visit our website awayhomewa.org.

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