Recognizing Our Volunteers During National Volunteer Month

By Shoshanna Love, Volunteer Manager

Volunteers have been a central part of our work since we were founded by grassroots volunteers in 1988, and they continue to partner with us in roles across the organization.

Throughout the pandemic, Treehouse has adapted our programs to continue to support the needs of youth experiencing foster care. Here are some of the many ways that our dedicated volunteer community has stepped up during this challenging year.

Virtual Tutoring Program

At the beginning of the pandemic, Treehouse pivoted our in-person tutoring to be an entirely virtual, statewide program. Our November survey of Treehouse education staff showed that 44% of our youth need academic remediation, tutoring or homework help while they’re doing online schooling. Our volunteer tutors have provided much-needed ongoing virtual academic support to youth across the state.

In November, Graduation Success participant Mia and her tutor, Maria, told us about getting to know each other: “In a very non-traditional sense, the tutoring experience has been rewarding in so many ways. Maria can’t wait to learn more about Mia and her likes and dislikes, and watch her grow into an independent, strong woman. It’s an honor for Maria to tutor Mia.” Read more from Maria and Mia here.

We also heard from tutor Doug Yun about his relationship with Ahmad, who he’s been working with for two years: “In early 2020, Ahmad was ready to apply to colleges, and due to the global pandemic, we have been meeting virtually and sharing our updates online. I’m happy to share that Ahmad is attending Renton Technical College this fall. His strength and determination have been a driving force in achieving his goals!” Read more from Doug here.

What’s Next: A Summer Experience Series for Young Adults

Last summer, Treehouse hosted a series of virtual events which took the place of our usual in-person summer college and career exploration activities. Over 50 youth from across the state attended these 9 events, which focused on college, careers and life skills.

Volunteers were instrumental in creating a diverse and engaging series of events. Recent Treehouse alumni volunteered to discuss their college experience, career experts joined panels on topics like entrepreneurship and apprenticeships, and interpreters provided real-time Spanish-language translation.

Volunteers from the Treehouse Ambassador Board also provided key support for these events, including strategic feedback, joining session panels and providing corporate sponsorship, which covered the entire cost of the series.

Treehouse Store Volunteering

The demand for resources among youth impacted by foster care is greater than ever, with increased requests from families and young adults living independently. Our dedicated crew of ongoing and one-time Treehouse Store volunteers have provided invaluable support as the Store transitioned from exclusively in-person shopping to new procedures, including shipping items, hosting low-contact pickups and making deliveries.

During the winter holidays, volunteers provided administrative support for our Holiday Magic program, allowing us to ship out 4,500 meaningful gifts to families across the state. Individual volunteers as well as those from family, corporate and community groups also staffed four outdoor toy distribution events. After piloting these successful events over the holidays, the Treehouse Store has been able to continue to hold regular physically distanced shopping events for families, with continuing support from volunteers.

In addition to the above roles, volunteers have engaged with us in too many ways to list here: crafting gifts for our graduates, mentoring youth as virtual job shadow hosts, working with us as interns and acting as table captains at our virtual Champions luncheon, to name a few.

If you’ve volunteered with us this year, thank you so much: we could not do our work without you.

If you’d like to join us as a new volunteer, please visit our Volunteering page to learn about our current roles or email me at [email protected].

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About the Author

Shoshanna Love is the Volunteer Manager at Treehouse. She is passionate about working with members of our community to support youth in foster care and believes we can only do this together.

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