UW Combined Fund Drive

August 2, 2023

Connecting and affirming Seattle’s youth: Meet Street Youth Ministries

Street Youth Ministries (SYM) is a nonprofit organization that serves unhoused and at-risk youths and young adults, ages 13-26, in University District. The organization’s mission is to provide youth and young adults in Seattle’s University District with life-skills, resources and relationships that bring hope and healing to their lives and the community.  

The Street Youth Ministries drop in center, at 45th and 15th in the U District, is open Tuesday – Friday from 11 am – 1 pm to meet the basic and immediate needs of their clients.

In addition to providing resources that assist individuals with necessities like clothing, showers, warm food, laundry services, and hygiene items as a drop-in center for homeless youths, they also host engaging activities throughout the week that engage their clients outside of their day-to-day routines, especially during summer.

From trips to the zoo to water rafting, SYM provides outings that help young individuals experience the joy and adventure of life.  

“This summer, we have been going on weekly Tuesday hikes at different locations each time. We have been to Discovery Park, Carkeek Park, and others,” said Alyssa McLeod, Operations Assistant at SYM. “On Thursdays, we have been taking the clients on different outings, including to the Burke Museum on UW’s campus, the Seattle Aquarium, the zoo, the SAM, and an SYM favorite – WhirlyBall.”

“All of these activities connect the clients to one another and build the relationships between clients and staff so that there is further common ground and trust,” she continued. 

Want to get involved? SYM has a variety of volunteer opportunities

Inside SYM’s office space is also a music room, where individuals can create music together using their set of mostly donated musical instruments, and art supplies, where clients can express themselves and use art as a creative outlet.

This summer, SYM is also hosting bi-weekly barbecues that provide moments of connection between clients, staff, and volunteers over meals. On weekday mornings, SYM hosts coffee runs, where their staff and volunteers walk around the Ave and offer hot coffee, creamer, oatmeal, and other snacks to those living or conducting much of their lives on the streets of U District.  

Each of these services have greatly touched the lives of individuals they reach. By providing a safe space and a home for connection, SYM has supported the U District community, encouraging youth in their difficult seasons of life, recovery, and healing.  

Read stories of impact on the SYM blog

If you’re looking for a place to donate, SYM welcomes both monetary and physical donations that are needed for both their operations and clients. Clothing donations, including socks, undergarments, shirts, and shoes are always appreciated, as well as gently used backpacks.

Additionally, items such as oatmeal packets, non-perishable creamers, coffee grounds, water bottles, small snacks (such as trail mix or breakfast bars), and basic first aid supplies are also welcomed for their coffee run services. Lastly, those who are interested in getting involved with SYM’s meal team by providing meals for the drop-in center or offering to sponsor them in buying food from a restaurant can get in contact with a staff member here.    

Although SYM is not yet a UWCFD member nonprofit, you can support their work directly here.

Contributed by Melanie Kuo, marketing and graphic design intern for UWHR Employee Experience. Melanie is a senior at UW majoring in Informatics with a focus on Human-Computer Interaction. She loves creating and sharing stories through graphic and UX (user experience) design, written content and other media.