Volunteer Wishes She Had Access to Treehouse as Child

By Jessa Slade, Assistant Manager of Financial Resources

Sarah Israel heard about Treehouse through a colleague who volunteers in our free store and was inspired to get involved because of her own experiences as a child.

“I understand firsthand the importance of supporting foster youth because I was in the foster care system,” Sarah said. “Being in the system creates many challenges for young people, but the biggest challenge is feelings of unworthiness, self-doubt and abandonment. I want to be a part of ensuring these kids feel they are worthy, valued, lovable and incredible people. Sometimes just having a new outfit, hairdo or Christmas presents under the tree can do that.”

Sarah came to Treehouse with a background in retail as a Senior Buyer at Zulily, and she has encouraged her co-workers to join her.

“I had such a great time sorting clothing that I started doing it quarterly, and I brought my entire team in to sort donations with me as a team-building activity,” Sarah said. “Eventually, I realized I wanted to make an even bigger impact, so I reached out asking to be involved in any way needed.”

As a skills-based volunteer, Sarah is now using her retail background to develop strategies for vendor relations throughout the community.

Back-to-school season is definitely one of the busiest times of the year at Treehouse. To serve youth in our Graduation Success and Launch Success programs outside of King County, this requires additional effort since they are not able to visit the Treehouse Store. With Sarah’s guidance this fall, we were able to provide Back-to-School Essential Kits that included a variety of school supplies and gender-neutral, trendy backpacks.

Sarah sourced wholesale vendors to purchase items so that we could stretch our dollars. She connected us with Dollar Days, which provided school supplies at wholesale prices with free shipping. For the backpacks, she connected us with Jansport, which is a brand name that our participants are always excited about.

“This is just the beginning,” Sarah said. “I see so much opportunity to partner with local corporations to purchase from sample sales, close-out goods, offseason and off-price goods before they liquidate through nationwide channels. This is something that will be a long-term passion project for me.”

Treehouse distributed 311 kits and saved $31,000, which is a huge win for the organization and youth in care. There is no doubt we could not have made this happen without Sarah and her passion to give back.

“What inspired me about Treehouse is that the focus is all about the children,” Sarah said. “They provide academic support, as well as address the other needs the state does not fund. I wish there had been something like this with the widespread resources they have when I was in the system.”

Learn more about our volunteer opportunities at treehouseforkids.org/volunteer.

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About the Author

Jessa Slade is the Assistant Manager of Financial Resources, working closely with our Just-in-Time Funding and Driver’s Assistance programs. Jessa started their journey here in the Treehouse Store, providing direct service to clients, and quickly found their passion in helping high school-aged youth in foster care. Jessa dedicates their time to providing funding and collaborating with other local resources to remove barriers for Treehouse participants.

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