Riverview Youth Council shares a continued commitment to ‘being the change’

  • Written by Leanne Christensen, RSD

Riverview Youth Council students: L to R – Ellie Ish, Katie Bodnar, Hannah Henrikson, Danny Stewart, Sophia Henrikson. Courtesy photo.
On a cold and rainy Saturday afternoon in February, students and parent volunteers from the Riverview Youth Council gathered in Kirkland to prepare a meal for the residents of Tent City. The students had been planning this event for months, and were looking forward to providing a substantial dinner, which included  Sloppy Joes, garden salads, bread and delicious homemade desserts for the residents there.

Once all of the residents had been served, the volunteers were asked to join them for a hearty meal and enlightening conversation.  Students had the opportunity to hear firsthand how many of the current residents came to live at the facility, their appreciation for the many volunteers and support they have received during their time in residence, and of their hopes for the future.  After the meal, the resident supervisor led all of the volunteers on a tour of the facility, explaining the many rules, regulations and safety precautions in place.

During the tour, Sue Henrikson, one of the parent volunteers, made mention of how cold the residents must get with only blankets and modest tents covering their dwellings, especially during this time of year.  With that, she realized there was something more the youth council could do to help, and the students agreed … the idea was to create fabric warming bags that the residents could use for some much needed warmth at bedtime. The following week she and parent volunteer Carrie Bodnar gathered and donated fabric, and found a local business woman, Beth Maloney, who donated 45 pounds of rice. With that, the mission had begun.

Sue and Carrie organized a “sewing event” with six youth council students at the Cedarcrest High School library, and for two plus hours this talented and diligent group of volunteers stuffed, sewed and finished over 20 warming rice bags, using every single grain of rice available.

The residents at Tent City were so very grateful to receive the warming bags, as they had none in stock at their current location.

Laura Smith, Youth Council advisor, said, “I couldn’t be more proud of the work being done by our student and adult volunteers.  Our adult advisors are an essential part of the Youth Council, always looking for ways to connect our youth in meaningful ways to our community.  We are so very fortunate to have a core group of committed adults to work in tandem with this remarkable group of students.”

The residents of Tent City mentioned to the group that they have a need for some basic toiletry items such as toothpaste, Kleenex, soap, etc. and especially razors for men and feminine hygiene products for the women. If you or your family would like to donate any of these items to the Kirkland Tent City, please feel free to contact Laura Smith at (206) 226-5287.

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