On the fourth Wednesday of every month, you’ll find a group of ELM staff and attorneys serving dinner at the New Horizons drop-in center at 3rd and Cedar. The center offers hope to youth who are experiencing homelessness by providing cooked meals and a place to shower, among other services.
Our managing partner, Lana Floyd, first volunteered at New Horizons in May. Lana spends most of her time guiding clients through real estate transactions. But on this particular evening she says she had fun serving soda — “pure sugar drinks,” as she puts it — along with more healthy items like salad, watermelon, and hamburgers.
Volunteering on Wednesday nights is part of ELM’s year-long partnership with New Horizons that started in April. The goal is to further New Horizons’ work of ending youth homelessness. There are nearly 1,500 unaccompanied youth and young adults in King County, according to a survey conducted this year. Three quarters of them live unsheltered.
New Horizons is responding to this crisis in a number of ways. In addition to its drop-in center, which is open daily, it partners with Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission to operate an overnight shelter specifically for young people. It also runs a coffee shop — The Street Bean — where youth transitioning from homelessness can gain job skills as they learn to make and serve fine coffee.
For those of us at ELM, participating in New Horizons’ work has been a joy.
“I would like to do it again soon” says Jan Olson. Jan is one of our partners and practices criminal law. Like Lana, he volunteered for the first time in May. Lana echoes Jan’s sentiment. “I was touched by the number of times I heard the kids say ‘please’ and ‘thank you,'” she says. “If you can spare three hours of your time some evening, please give it a try.”