Spring has officially made its grand return to Seattle! Cherry blossoms, warmer temperatures, and – dare we say it – sunny days! We’re feeling the love here at Community for Youth, because last month, we had the pleasure of hosting our first in-person Aspire Gala since 2020 at Bell Harbor International Conference Center.
On February 25, over 200 supporters, staff members, Board Members, mentors, students, and alumni came together to celebrate over 36 years of transformative mentoring with a night of delicious food, fun games, live and silent auctions, and great energy! Auctioneer Ian Lindsay and Emcee Sasha Summer Cousineau teamed up to bring ALL of the good feelings and excitement to the evening, while Seattle-based DJ Calico brought the tunes and grooves. By the end of the night, we were able to raise over $148K for South Seattle high school students!
Festivities for the evening kicked off with a cocktail hour and silent auction. Guests placed bids on a wide variety of exciting items, and were also able to purchase raffle tickets for a chance to win two roundtrip tickets to any Alaska Airlines destination! Supporters spent the cocktail hour mingling, capturing fun moments at a photobooth, and throwing rings for a chance to win a bottle of wine from the Wine Toss.
Programming opened with a thrilling game facilitated by five of our very own Leadercorps students, Henok and Eden Yemane, Pearl Polinar-Keating, and Angela and Yanni Zhang. Our Leadercorps students challenged each table to go around in a clockwise direction and form a cohesive story using a sentence from each letter of the alphabet, from A to Z! The winning table was able to secure an additional $500 toward their bid for Dessert Dash, in which the table with the highest collective bid was the first to choose a delicious confection from the dessert table at the end of the evening.
The CfY Team kicked off the evening with opening remarks highlighting the power of mentoring, and recognized current and previous mentors, Board Members, students, and staff – a true testament to the commitment of Community for Youth supporters on every level, and the lasting connections that are formed in our community.
Sasha and Ian showed up and showed out during the evening’s Live Auction, and the bidding wars commenced! Bidders battled it out for awesome items and experiences, including a 7-Night Stay at Snowater Resort in Deming, WA, a Seattle Tugboat Tour, a Bar Cart assembled by the CfY Board of Directors, and more!
When it came time for CfY alumna Eva Zhang to speak about her experience with our organization, supporters were reminded of how the power of mentoring touches the lives of students we serve – even beyond high school.
“I learned that it was okay to ask questions, and that CfY was a safe space for my voice to be heard,” said Eva. “This community was a support system for me. Everyone in my community was committed to my success.”
Eva ended with a challenge to all of the incredible adults who showed up in support of our organization that night: take the leap, and become a consistent adult in a young person’s life.
Mentorship has proven benefits for youth, promoting academic success, decreased likelihood of substance abuse, reduction in depressive symptoms, positive relationships and communication, connection to employment opportunities, concrete skill learning and practice, and much more.
The relationships between our mentors and students form the backbone of our mission: to inspire and support students to be their best selves through mentoring, learning experiences, and a powerful community.
We’d like to extend our gratitude to the following event partners and individuals who made this year’s Aspire Gala a huge success:
- Our professional event planning team, GFS Events
- Our 2023 Aspire Gala Committee: Mali Olson, Regan Zeebuyth, Quenita Fry, and Roger Lorenze.
- Our incredible and vivacious Emcee, Sasha Summer Cousineau
- Our talented and endlessly spirited Auctioneer, Ian Lindsay
- DJ Calico, for bringing the excellent vibes through the power of great music
- Our professional event photographer, Suzi Pratt
- Our 2023 Aspire Gala Sponsors, Amazon, KPMG LLP, Slalom Consulting, Ewing & Clark, 3R Technology, and Dulay Homes
- John Dixon & AlAnne Vineyards
- Bell Harbor International Conference Center
- The Community for Youth Board of Directors
- The Community for Youth Staff Team
THANK YOU for helping us further our mission and continue to serve Seattle high school students through transformative mentoring.
Missed this year’s event? Don’t worry! There are plenty of ways to support Community for Youth year-round. Click here to make a one time donation, or multiply your impact and sign up to be a monthly donor! Don’t forget to check out photos of this year’s event on our official Facebook page. Stay tuned for more information to come about the 2024 Aspire Gala – sign up for our official Monthly Newsletter here.
Interested in becoming a mentor? Visit our official website and read about what it takes to be a successful mentor to one of our amazing students. We are currently recruiting for our flexible introductory program, CfY Duos, and will begin recruiting for our Learning Communities program in the Fall. Be sure to stay connected by following us on Facebook and Instagram.