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Mayor Mike McGinn left office on January 1, 2014.
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City of Seattle

August 28, 9:36 AM click here to comment > 0

Honoring the volunteers who support Seattle’s kids

At our second annual volunteer appreciation reception, I had the pleasure of honoring nearly 100 community members who have served our communities this year by tutoring young readers, sharing their passions and talents with students at middle school community learning centers, mentoring a middle or high school student, or providing students with safe ways to get to school.

These volunteers are making a huge difference in kids’ lives. Without the one-on-one attention provided by these volunteers, so many of our kids who need help the most are at risk of slipping through the cracks. Teens in an after school program like the ones our volunteers participate in are three times less likely to:

  • Skip classes
  • Use marijuana or other drugs
  • Drink alcohol
  • Smoke cigarettes, or
  • Engage in sexual activity.

Caring adults can also make a difference for middle and high school youth outside of the school day, as a mentor. According to a study by Big Brothers Big Sisters, children with mentors were 46% less likely to begin using illegal drugs, 27% less likely to begin using alcohol, 52% less likely to skip school, 37% less likely to skip a class, and 33% less likely to hit someone.

I’d also like to offer a big thank you to the PTA and VISTA volunteers who have helped local elementary and middle schools develop Safe Routes to School programs. Without their efforts to provide more accessible ways of getting to school, fewer students would be able to attend class to meet that under 10 absences goal.

Each of these volunteers found a specific aspect of youth development that they were passionate and identified an opportunity to make an impact.  This looked a bit different for everyone in the room: many volunteered in evening tutoring centers after coming from a full workday, while others were teen tutors who worked closely with 2nd and 3rd graders at local elementary schools. Some of the individuals in the room have responded to the need for quality out-of-school time programs by teaching elementary students a new skill in summer programs, including the Northgate READS summer reading program. Others have committed one or two hours of their free time each week to working one-on-one with a mentee.  Many of the community members honored on Wednesday are dedicated and committed parents who enrich their school community by learning new tutoring skills to support their students, or by recruiting other parents to improve school safety with Safe Routes to School programs.

All of these people have one thing in common – a commitment to level the playing field for local youth. I am so grateful for the work of all of our amazing volunteers who support and advocate for children and youth across Seattle. Because of you, more students are getting the attention they need and care they deserve. Thank you all for the ways you step up to show Seattle youth that our community is invested in their future.

Posted by: Mayor Mike McGinn