Homeless in Seattle
“We are being evicted,” said Kiki. My heart starts beating faster because I instantly know what will happen. Her family will not be able to find affordable housing in Seattle so they will be pushed south like so many before them. The commute will be too hard on her and the family so she might lose her job. Jamal, her son and a student in the MUST mentoring program, will struggle in school. I keep these thoughts to myself. So does she.
“I am so sorry to hear that. If there is anything we can do, please let us know. We will be sure JJ (Jamal’s mentor) stays in touch with him,” I say.
Imagine being in high school and two months before the end of the school year you have to move. After spending most of your life in the Central District of Seattle you now live in a new city with no friends. A taxi will take you 45 minutes to school each day so you can finish out the year at the same school. Who knows where you will go to school next year?
“I lost my job on Mother’s Day,” Kiki says.
“I lost my job on Mother’s Day,” Kiki says a month later. Jamal and his family moved to Kent and will live in a hotel until the money runs out. Then they will move into a shelter. Juggling a job, kids and looking for a place to live is too much for one person to handle. For Jamal, “How should I study for my math test?” has been replaced with “Where will I sleep tomorrow?” “Will we have enough food?” Who cares about math when those are the questions of your life?
MUST Paintball Outing
Jamal is still homeless but there is hope for him. JJ, Jamal’s MUST Mentor, has been meeting with him consistently for breakfast each week. Jamal loves iHop because the portions of food are large and the menu is full of comfort food. JJ and Jamal talk about life, the NBA and girls. JJ checks Jamal’s grades each week. If Jamal is slipping in a class they talk about how to get the grade back up. Right now JJ just wants Jamal to know he is there for him. Jamal’s MUST mentor will be one of the only consistent things in his life over the next three years. As MUST donors YOU provide this priceless relationship for Jamal.
If not for JJ, Jamal would probably drop out of school. High school dropouts cost society on average $600-700,000 over the course of their lifetime. The justice system, welfare and healthcare all bear the burden they place on society. If Jamal drops out he will work low paying jobs most of his life, contributing little in taxes to help society. If he drops out the choices for his kids get smaller too. They too may have few choices and be just as costly to society.
This is where you step in! You as MUST donors are helping prevent generations from suffering the same smothering fate. Thank you for your faithfulness to MUST, our mentors and our youth. You are giving them a great chance at breaking the cycle and starting new patterns for themselves and the next generation. You might not have the time to sit down with one of our guys for breakfast, but you are letting him sit down with a mentor that he relates to in a big way. For four years you help them build their friendship and trust. With friendship and trust… the sky is the limit. Thank you!
FAST FACTS: The cost of incarcerating one juvenile for one year in Washington is $95,000.
MUST QUOTES: “There are few role models for him in our circle. This program has been a God send.” – Guardian of MUST youth
You’re Buggin’ Me
Each spring MUST puts on a career/goals event. This year youth were led through four stations: Health, SMART Goals, Interviews and Being Comfortable Being Uncomfortable. Can you guess what station the crickets were at? They sell crickets at the Mariners game as a legitimate snack. The crickets were used to help them remember that being uncomfortable is how you grow and advance. Trying new things is a part of success.
Each station was run by MUST Mentors or Coaches. Youth spent 20 minutes at each station. In between stations they were handed a 3×5 card with a new ‘career’ and the average salary of that career. On the tables were pictures of houses and cars they could afford to buy with the salary they were given. It was a very successful day. You never know what seeds were planted in the lives of our youth.
The MUST Misson: MUST is dedicated to finding promising African American men in college and paying them to mentor African American youth who are in genuine danger of dropping out of high school. The younger watches the older for 4 years and begins to think, “If he can do it… so can I!”
“What were your three favorite events last year?” Rick asks this of the MUST youth each year. Two of the three vary from youth to youth. There is one event, however, that is consistently in the top three of most youth. Go karts? No. Paintball? No. Movies? No. The one event that kids love the most is simply going to Rick’s parents’ house in Edmonds. MUST does A LOT of fun events with the kids throughout the year so this is saying something.
Fun at the Newell’s House
Why is it their favorite? Yes, Rick’s parents’ place is very nice, but we don’t think that is the main reason. We think it is their favorite for three reasons. First is Rick’s parents have an almost endless supply of sodas in the refrigerator. Hey, they are teenagers. Second, it is not in the Rainier Valley. It is safe and clean. It is quiet. There are no sirens. It is peaceful. Lastly, and maybe most importantly, Rick’s parents make them feel loved and welcomed. Some of them for almost six years. Just today Rick sat down with an African American mother who said someone just told her at the gas station “that she couldn’t wait for all you n****** to leave.” It is very hard being African American in this country and Rick’s parents place is somewhere they feel save, loved and well fed. Who wouldn’t like that as a teenager… or an adult. A BIG thanks to Stan and Lois for how they use their home and serve our youth.
Do you have a home that could be used to host MUST events? MUST is growing beyond the capacity of the Newell’s house this year. Would you want to host some kids and mentors for an evening while they play xBox games, eat pizza and chug sodas? Please give Rick a call, text or email if this idea scratches you where you itch. Thank you all for they way you support us. It makes more of a difference than you can realize.
EIN Tax ID: 47-3006113
4093 Letitia Ave S
Seattle, WA 98118