July’s Advocate of the Month – Kaji Dyson!

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Kaji and daughter Kiko celebrate after the 2011 Seattle Marathon

Kaji Dyson has been a Teen Feed advocate for over a decade!

Over 10 years at Teen Feed, Kaji has eaten countless meals while listening, encouraging, and watching the growth of youth and of Teen Feed as an agency. Kaji’s sweet and energetic spirit that allows her to be consistent presence for youth for so many years. Kaji’s efforts extend beyond program. Not only did Kaji run the 2011 Seattle Marathon as part of  Team Teen Feed, she was one of our top fundraisers, raised $1,000  for Teen Feed’s meal programs. We are so fortunate to count Kaji as part of our Teen Feed community!

How long have you been volunteering with Teen Feed?

Since 2002 (ten years!)

Why/how did you get involved with Teen Feed?

I had been laid off from work at an airline (post 9/11) and was looking for volunteer work. My children were the same age as Teen Feed guests at the time. My relationship with my children was getting more challenging at the time and harder to connect as they grew into adults. So, I felt drawn to Teen Feed. I looked on the internet and called. The first person I spoke to was the former Coordinator, Tele. She mentioned the Advocate position and I came to the office to watch the documentary, Kids on the Ave.

When I first started it was only 5 nights a week.  I remember the first youth I met was sleeping at a table. I got to know him over the years. I’ve since seen him and have learned that he graduated from the University of Washington and is pursuing his MBA in Iceland!

What is your favorite thing about volunteering at Teen Feed?

I just come to have a conversation over a meal and to hear something positive. The guests are so intelligent. I get to see them change over time and I begin to start seeing them believe in themselves. When I come to Teen Feed I feel valued as a volunteer.

What do you like to do outside of volunteering?

I like to do yoga, play tennis and I am dog sitting for my daughter.

What did you eat today?

Cereal.

What have you learned from volunteering at Teen Feed?

I’ve learned that just listening to anything, even the small things, is important. It’s also a hard skill to listen without any judgment, without expectations and without prejudice. Listening is very powerful. I always learn something from the youth I meet – everyone has some wisdom to share.

Thank you for continuing to be an amazingly positive presence for youth at Teen Feed, Kaji!

Are you interested in being a volunteer at Teen Feed? Click here or email volunteer@teenfeed.org to learn more.