October 08, 2020

Our first virtual Inspiring Greatness was a success!

Our community came together online to support our youth.

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Thank you for making our first virtual Inspiring Greatness a success!

Together, you raised over $650,000 dollars to ensure that youth facing the toughest systemic barriers have a professional mentor to guide them to reach their goals, no matter what.

At this year’s Inspiring Greatness, we heard from Friends-Seattle staff, youth and supporters as they reflected on what it means to be a “No Matter What” organization in the midst of a pandemic. In our 20th year, your support has been critical for our mentors to continue helping youth navigate the uncertainties of the COVID-19 pandemic, the challenges of online learning, and the realities of generational poverty and institutional racism.

Our very own 2020 program graduate, Aliya, shared an intimate story highlighting her relationship with her professional mentors, Michelle and Sheena. Growing up she was very shy and insecure. When her father passed away she relied on strength from her family and her trust in Michelle. It took time and consistency, but Michelle became a part of her family, too.

"I began to see Michelle quite often. It was a weekly occurrence. I recognized that she wasn’t just some stranger that came to pick me up and feed me, she became my friend. She was a part of my family. Growing up, it was difficult for me to open up to others, yet the patience and time she had sacrificed to allow me to challenge myself, it was admirable and I truly appreciate all her efforts."

When she transitioned to the teen program and was connected with a new mentor it was as if her family grew.

"Michelle and Sheena were huge figures in my life – support systems in my life - that I didn’t know I needed. I know I would have been really different if I had never met them and they will always be so important to me."

Cynthia Crowder, a teacher at Dick Scobee Elementary in Auburn, shared how professional mentor Sophia has played a key role in supporting her student Monica*. When she first saw Sophia and Monica interact, she could tell, “They had a deep level of trust and respect for one another. It was the kind of relationship teachers hope for.”

Monica is a hardworking student, but she sometimes struggles to manage her emotions when she feels challenged. Sophia helped Cynthia learn new strategies to help Monica calm down and refocus when she starts to escalate. But with the shift to virtual learning at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Cynthia was unsure what to expect.

Sophia stayed in touch with Cynthia and let her know what specific challenges Monica was facing during the last few months of school. “[Monica and I] I have this relationship and bond because of Friends of the Children…I have a relationship with Monica’s mom because of Friends of the Children. And this relationship and connection that I have with Monica’s family would not have happened without Sophia.”

It has never been more clear how much our youth benefit from the support of a professional mentor, both inside the classroom and out. “[Monica] is learning how to use her gifts to reach her highest potential and set an example for her peers,” said Cynthia.

We are so grateful for the support of our community, who came together to ensure that the 220 youth in our program continue to stay connected with their professional mentor. And for everyone who contributed to this event, whether by donating, viewing, planning or supporting in any way, we cannot say thank you enough.

You can watch the full Inspiring Greatness video above, on YouTube or on Facebook.

SAVE THE DATE: Mark your calendars for next year’s Inspiring Greatness at the Hyatt Regency on Saturday, September 25th, 2021.

*Name changed to protect youth's privacy.