Meet Kiyomi Higuchi, Advocate of the Month!

Kiyomi Higuchi ran the Seattle Half Marathon in under 2 hours. That is a true story.

She also sold pieces of pie to her co-workers to raise money for Teen Feed during the half marathon fundraiser. What I’m trying to say is Kiyomi infuses her commitment to advocacy for homeless youth from program into her life and community. She is intuitive, genuine and insightful. And, girl can run, fast! We sat down with Kiyomi to ask her about her experience as an advocate volunteer at Teen Feed…

How long have you been volunteering with Teen Feed?

15 months.

Why/how did you get involved with Teen Feed?

I graduated from college and was working in retail (which I still am) and I wanted to start doing volunteer work. My BFF, Stephan Goodman, had been volunteering with Teen Feed and I started coming with him. I loved it.

What is your favorite thing about volunteering at Teen Feed?

Volunteering at Teen Feed has been the number one way of continuing my education outside of college. I have learned about myself, other people and social issues. It has also made me more aware of the way people talk about homelessness. When I hear people speak in stereotypes outside of Teen Feed I am able to advocate for youth based on the real conversations that I have with them at dinner. These conversations have also taught me about my own biases.

What do you like to do outside of volunteering?

I like to run, read novels and the Sunday Times, get crafty, and daydream about travelling.

What did you eat today?

A breakfast burrito for lunch.

What have you learned from volunteering at Teen Feed?

That helping people helps yourself.


Thanks for being an awesome advocate Kiyomi! If you are interested in learning more or becoming a Teen Feed volunteer, please reach us at or click here.

December’s Advocate of the Month: Jason Dickson!

Jason Dickson has got it goin’ on! His committed presence at Teen Feed is appreciated by staff and youth alike. Jason goes above and beyond to support staff during program. Beyond his two nights as a Teen Feed advocate he also volunteers at ROOTS Young Adult Shelter. Teen Feed could hardly keep up with all of the thank you cards we owed him for his humble generosity. So, we sat him down with a cup of coffee and got real. It’s hard not to like this guy, he’s down to earth, kind, funny and he “gets it”. 

How long have you been volunteering with Teen Feed?

Since January 2011.

Why/how did you get involved with Teen Feed?

I watched a documentary called “Children Underground”. It was so touching and I wanted to get involved because I couldn’t bury my head in the ground about these kinds of issues – I had to do something and I’d rather give my hands than money. So, I Googled homeless youth in Seattle and contacted some organizations. Teen Feed was the first to respond so I attended the orientation and started volunteering. It was spontaneous, just like everything else I do.

What is your favorite thing about volunteering at Teen Feed?

The guests. Don’t take it personally, the other volunteers and staff are great but the guests and relationships are my favorite. Being at Teen Feed gives me the freedom to get away from myself and focus on the guests.

What do you like to do outside of volunteering?

I like to get out whenever I can. When the weather is permitting I love going climbing. With the winter approaching I want to go snow shoeing . I’m wreaking havoc if I’m stuck in the city.

What did you eat today?

A philly sandwich from the Wayward Café.

What have you learned from volunteering at Teen Feed?

I think about this quite a bit. If you would’ve asked me a year ago what I thought about homeless youth I would have been able to ‘fill in the blank’ to describe a youth with a lot more assumptions. From my experience at Teen Feed, a homeless youth is no different from other kids (like my own son) except circumstance.

Interested in becoming a Teen Feed Advocate or Volunteer?
click here or reach for more information.

Advocate of the Year- Jenny Rose!

Jenny Rose is a champion. An advocate for almost two years, Jenny’s contagious and tenacious passion for youth makes her an excellent model for Teen Feed guests and other advocates.  Her authenticity and ability to “be real” enables her to  connect with youth in a way that a lot of people can’t – and the youth respect her for it. She has a real ability to connect with youth, asking thoughtful questions and always keeping the focus on them. She is a champion in her family and community, sharing the impact of her Teen Feed experience amongst her friends and sons, creating awareness and allies wherever she goes.  It was our pleasure to honor Jenny’s commitment and generosity of spirit by awarding her Teen Feed’s “Volunteer Advocate of the Year” at our 2011 Annual Celebration in October. We invite you to get to know Jenny Rose…

How long have you been volunteering with Teen Feed?

That’s a good question ! I remember I first came along in the summer of 2010 so about 18 months now though it doesn’t seem that long …. Time flies !

Why/how did you get involved with Teen Feed?

I wanted to locate some volunteer work that involved interaction with people, so I browsed the internet looking for opportunities with youth in particular. Teen Feed was the first organization that popped up and, at the same time, I discovered that my next door neighbor who is a nurse, was volunteering at 45th Street Clinic which I noticed was a community partner on the Teen Feed site. I have a demanding and stressful job where I seem to have my head buried in my computer and tons of paperwork with very little daily interaction with people so getting out and about with people in the community was just what I needed to create a good balance in my life. Being a mom of three teenagers I was particularly drawn to Teen Feed. My sons and I are a terrific team – we all moved from the UK to the US settling here 10 years ago which was a huge adventure, and we work well as a family. I think I am learning so much in my “mom role” and wanted to share my experience.

What is your favorite thing about volunteering at Teen Feed?

Interacting with the youth for sure. They are a really interesting and awesome bunch.  They have fascinating, interesting personalities, are great company, and have so many experiences to share and needs to fulfill. I am constantly amazed by the stories they relate of their past experiences and of their current daily interactions within the community. It is quite an honor to gain their trust, share their struggles, have them accept your help, and it is so fantastic to hear about their successes. That’s probably the best part. The Teen Feed staff are simply awesome. Learning from and interacting with them is definitely one of my favorite things about the program. I am in awe of their level of care, support and dedication to both the youth and all us volunteers.. I have many new friends here now and it feels like being part of a big family  ! Oh, and let’s not forget about the yummy dinners!

What do you like to do outside of volunteering?

I love hiking – my husband and I head to Mount Rainier or the North Cascades most weekends and we got into mushroom hunting last year – I’m working on becoming an expert !! I really enjoy going to the theater, opera, symphony, and rock concerts ( I went to see Journey this week ! ) and I really love socializing with friends, cooking and throwing dinner parties. All my girl friends donate to Teen Feed so we have dinner / Teen Feed drive parties a lot ! Of course some of my favorite times are those hanging out with my boys – watching movies, game nights etc and we sit down to a family dinner every weekday night ( except on Wednesdays when I am with my Teen Feed family ! ) which is one of my most favorite times. I’m hooked on BBC dramas and shows – Silent Witness, MI5, Dr. Who, Vicar of Dibley. I guess some US ones are OK too –  like The Mentalist and Without a Trace J

What did you eat today?

Toast and British Marmalade for breakfast, chicken wonton soup for lunch…. And now I’m waiting for that yummy Teen Feed dinner !

What have you learned from volunteering at Teen Feed?

Gosh, so much. When you are bringing up 3 teens you kinda think you have seen, done and solved most things in a youth’s life, but … not so ! I have learned so much from our youth here. Particularly what is really important in life – what they need to live comfortably, happily and safely. How to create stability for them and offer support. Basically how best to fulfill their needs and build up a trusting relationship so they will share with you.  Building good communication skills is definitely the key to being a good advocate and learning to really listen and hear what is going on for them. I’ve had to learn how to build and maintain relationships within the time parameters of the program. It’s a challenge with only an hour once a  week, but I think I have learned how to leave every interaction on a good positive note until the next time and how to create positive anticipation for the future. When one of the older youth said to me recently “ you know, I’ve told you more in the last 30 mins than I’ve ever told anyone in my life, including my parents “ you know you are on the right track and it all becomes worthwhile !

Interested in being a volunteer advocate like Jenny? Please visit our Teen Feed Volunteer page or emails



A beautifully contagious sense of hope for 14 youth…

If you’ve spent any time at Teen Feed or in the U-District community these last few months, chances are you’ve heard the name Gossett Place. Whether you’ve heard the name or not, let me tell you that it’s pretty awesome! Gossett Place is brand-new subsidized housing sponsored by the Low Income Housing Institute and Sound Mental Health. It’s part of a larger group of housing facilities with units for “high-utilizers” – folks that, because they don’t have a safe place to call home, end up stuck in various parts of our larger service system: treatment centers, jail, ER’s, shelters, etc. Gossett Place is open specifically to individuals dealing with long-term chemical dependency and/or mental health issues.

Gossett Place is located in the heart of the U-District and has one incredibly exciting different feature than its housing counterparts: several units were set aside specifically for young adults accessing U-District agencies! To briefly summarize the referral process, Teen Feed has been working closely with other U-District service providers over the past few months to submit referrals for young adults that meet the “high utilizer” criteria or who are assessed by Gossett staff to be “highly vulnerable”. There have been many meetings, presentations on youths’ histories and lots of applications to fill out…but the reward has been great!
The reward is that to date, 14 young adults have moved into Gossett Place. These 14 young adults now live in the nicest, newest building in the entire U-District, each with their own state-of-the-art studio apartment. The building has many perks including a common area with a big screen TV, a computer lab, on-site laundry and direct access to professionals who provide support for their chemical dependency or mental health needs. Residents pay 30% of their income as rent; if they don’t have income they don’t pay anything. Gossett’s biggest perk is that young adults enter as they are; it’s truly a housing first model. This means they don’t have any expectations to fix their “problems”…they simply get to move in, get settled and then receive support to work on the issues they feel are important to them.

The young adults creating new homes and futures for themselves at Gossett Place talk often about how nice it is to be out of shelters, to know they have their own bed to sleep in, and to enjoy the feeling of sleeping in.

They talk about how nice it is to live in a community where they feel supported and not expected to change themselves at a moment’s notice.

They’ve told us they now have the time and space to dream about what’s in store for their future. Their stories have lost the concern or fear of the present and have picked up a beautifully contagious sense of hope.

My hope is that all those we serve will catch a case of this hope and to get experience their own version of Gossett Place.


Ryan Fouts is Teen Feed’s Support Coordinator, leading the Service Links for Youth (SLY) program. To learn more about SLY, click here.

DISCLAIMER: In the Teen Feed News newsletter, Larry Gossett should have been listed as a King County Councilmember, not a Seattle City Councilmember. We apologize for the oversight.

September’s Advocate of the Month: Carl Powers

Getting to Know the Advocate of the Month: Carl Powers!

Carl Powers is a stand-up guy. He has been a committed Teen Feed volunteer since 2007. Carl is an integral part of the Tuesday night advocate team, a natural leader, willing to help, articulate in his ability to spread his passion for Teen Feed and he is fu uuuny. Read more about the man, the marvel, the Advocate of the Month, Carl Powers!

How long have you been volunteering with Teen Feed?

I started volunteering in October of 2007 until the following September of 2008. I returned as an Advocate in October of 2009 and have been volunteering since.

Why/how did you get involved with Teen Feed?
I needed 50 hours of community service hours in High School and Teen Feed was listed as an option at my school. I met with Eric Wirkman, nice guy, and stuck with it. I have other friends that are involved too, Marlee Palmer (current volunteer). I took my senior year off from Teen Feed and resumed as an Advocate my freshman year of college – I wanted something to do.

What is your favorite thing about volunteering at Teen Feed?

I like the Teen Feed community – other advocates, Teen Feed staff and the clients we serve. It is a fun place to hang out and volunteer because it doesn’t feel like work. Sometimes you have to click into ‘business mode’, but it is mostly a calm place.

What do you like to do outside of volunteering?
I do stand-up and improv comedy. I am a part of the Collective Improv Club and I have done gigs at Comedy Underground. I also like to play soccer and all sports. I really like skiing. My favorite comedians are Jim Gaffigan, Eugene Mirman and Michael In Black.

What did you eat today?
A white-chocolate-chip-cranberry-cookie and lemonade from Starlife on The Oasis. (He just woke up)

What have you learned from volunteering at Teen Feed?
The best way to get to know someone is to actually talk to them and not just listening to what’s said about someone. It’s about giving people the time.

To learn more about becoming a Teen Feed Advocate, click here.

Thank you Magid!

It is a good day at Teen Feed when we receive a gift of much needed supplies for the homeless youth we serve. Today, it was a huge box of warm gloves that came in the mail from Magid Glove and Safety … something that will come in terribly useful when the weather turns cold in Seattle.

Since its inception, Magid has been actively involved in supporting the communities it does business in – locally and globally. With a primary focus on promoting the health, safety and well-being of those in need, Magid accomplishes its philanthropic objectives via financial and non-financial contributions and through the support of its employees’ individual charitable efforts.

By sending gloves, Magid made a tangible difference in the lives of homeless youth ages 13 – 25 who will be struggling on our streets this winter. Youth will stay a little warmer – when there isn’t money to buy a cup of coffee and stay indoors, when the shelters are full, when youth are waiting for Teen Feed to open for a warm healthy meal each night.

Thank you Magid employees. You do make a difference.

Advocate of the Month: Sarah Anderson!

Teen Feed’s Advocate of the Month – Sarah Anderson!!

Sarah Anderson rules. She has been an Advocate with Teen Feed for six months. In addition to her outstanding contribution as a volunteer, Sarah raised $2,520 for Teen Feed as a runner in the Rock n Roll Marathon. Her final time was 4 hours and 43 minutes. Rad! Read on to learn more about Sarah and the heart she brings to Teen Feed.

Why/how did you get involved with Teen Feed?
I attended the Ben Gibbard benefit show and when Megan explained what Teen Feed is I knew it fit with what I was looking for in regards to my volunteer goals. I was drawn to the organization because I felt like I could relate to the youth because I grew up in a difficult home. I currently work a very demanding job. Teen Feed provides balance to my life.

What is your favorite thing about volunteering at Teen Feed?
I know it’s where I should be. Time flies by when I’m listening to people’s stories; seeing the hope in people’s eyes; hearing people’s honesty in interactions – you’d never hear people be that honest in a coffee shop or interact this way in another capacity. The human experience is intriguing to me.

What do you like to do outside of volunteering?
I run! I also play kickball, we’ve won two championship in my Underdog League. I also like to work on my house. The house is 111 years old, so there are a lot of quirks.

What did you eat today?
A Clif Builder’s bar (peanut butter flavor) and a cup of coffee.

What have you learned from volunteering at Teen Feed?
I have learned that providing support is the more important than expressing your own expectations for people. People change when they want. Teen Feed is integral because there are people that youth can rely on. You have ideas of how people should live their life but you can’t project your own goals. You just have to be there for them. I wish the person I am at Teen Feed could be manifested in the rest of my life.


Teen Feed is launching into what I think will be a really incredible process. We’ve just unveiled our newly-renovated office space, a space that was designed to help those we serve feel comfortable and invited to connect with us. We also just launched a new strategic plan that will carry us through the next five years. I am particularly excited to be at Teen Feed right now, and I feel fortunate that I can share in the lives of those we serve. What better time to remind ourselves why we are committed to doing this work…

I’m currently reading an amazing book called In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts by Dr. Gabor Maté. It focuses on his work in Vancouver, BC with homeless people facing chemical addictions. There are many reasons that I highly recommend this book, but a major one is that Dr. Maté creates a very human perspective on drug addiction. He makes an eloquent presentation that his patients have experienced immeasurable pains that very few people could understand and turn to drugs as a way to escape the daily horror and turmoil that is their life. In a world that looks down on addicts, he calls the reader to first see people that are traumatized…people who, like all of us, just want to survive and cope with the pain of life.

One particular passage of the book has really stayed with me. “When my addict patients look at me, they are seeking the real me. Like children, they are unimpressed with titles, achievements, worldly credentials. Their concerns are too immediate, too urgent. What they care about is my presence or absence as a human being. They gauge with unerring eyes whether I am grounded enough on any given day to coexist with them, to listen to them as persons with feelings, hopes and aspirations that are as valid as mine. They can tell instantly whether I’m genuinely committed to their well-being or just trying to get them out of my way. Chronically unable to offer such caring to themselves, they are all the more sensitive to its presence or absence in those charged with caring for them.”

Wow, what an epic challenge to remain committed to the homeless youth we serve! It’s not enough for me to just order ID’s or to hand out housing applications with an idle, “fill this out and get it back to me.” It’s not enough to shuffle around plates of food or to pass out socks without an accompanying hello and a smile. The youth we serve at Teen Feed have incredibly accurate honesty meters built in. They have to…many of them have not had the luxury of being surrounded by supportive, caring friends or family for most, if not all, of their lives. They can immediately tell, even in a simple hello, whether our staff and volunteers care about them or are just there to build themselves up. In the six years I’ve been working with homeless youth, I can think of so many times where they have called me out for not being genuine and have invited me to join them in a place of deeper honesty and beauty.

What will make our nice, new office and our ambitious strategic plan successful is our commitment…our heart. My teammates are so passionate and deeply committed to the youth we serve, and I consider myself so fortunate to share my Teen Feed journey with them. But, my teammates and I can only carry the direction of Teen Feed so far. You, the greater Teen Feed community…volunteers, donors, friends, family…you are what will help Teen Feed go from good to great. I envision our commitment to youth as a series of concentric circles around them…they are always at the center. No matter how “close” you are to those we serve, your continued commitment to caring for our youth is as vital as it ever was. Continuing to give your time and money, making nutritious meals, investing in real relationships and never, ever giving up on the potential our youth have…this is how you will help us ensure that our youth have the best possible chances to meet their future off the streets. Let’s get started…


Nutrition at Teen Feed

Seven nights a week the youth that access Teen Feed can count on a hot nutritious meal thoughtfully prepared by volunteer meal teams. The dishes that meal teams offer are of delicious homemade quality. “I am impressed with the meal teams food handling, selection and general good nature that they impart to the meals,” comments Marybeth Walton as she observes a night at Teen Feed.

Marybeth is a nutrition student at Bastyr University who has chosen to focus on Teen Feed for her senior project on community nutrition program development. Her goal is to help find a way to improve upon the meals that youth receive by building on the nutritional content of the meals served. Through a community nutrition model Marybeth has been collecting relevant information about the healthcare needs of the youth we serve. Her project and expertise will address healthcare needs by creating recipes and meals that promote health and wellness.

We look forward to incorporating Marybeth’s knowledge and experience as a nutrition and dietetic student into Teen Feed’s meal program. She is currently collaborating with and gathering information from our committed and passionate meal teams. We look forward to learning more from Marybeth, utilizing the recipes she crafts and ultimately continuing to offer youth the best and most nutritious hot meals, every night of the year.

– Katelyn Stickel, Teen Feed Coordinator

Teen Feed as a Secure Base

By Josh Horvath, Advocate

While serving as an Advocate for Teen Feed, I often ask myself how do youth find themselves homeless and trying to survive out on the streets?  I currently am a graduate student in counseling psychology at Northwest University, and view a lot of my times at Teen Feed through a psychological perspective.  I’ve learned from the staff that there are numerous reasons a youth might find themselves homeless: from struggling with the challenges of mental illness, to addictions and abusive home lives.  In my studies I have learned about Attachment Theory and the idea of the secure-base.  I have come to believe that many of our guests at Teen Feed are lacking a secure-base in their lives, and that Teen Feed truly can become a secure-base for them.

Attachment Theory explains that the secure-base is formed between an infant and a primary caregiver.  A secure-base is formed when there is mutual enjoyment and empathy shared between the primary care giver and infant.  Secure attachments also need to be continually fostered throughout childhood.  Without a secure-base in childhood, an individual sees the world as a dangerous place, they are uncomfortable in close relationships, and likely will not progress through life with hope for a better future.  In therapy a counselor for many people becomes the first secure-base in a person’s life, because they offer empathy and acceptance.  I see Teen Feed operating in much the same way as a therapist, by being the first secure-base for someone and thus a starting point of change. 

Teen Feed is consistent, and the staff and volunteers demonstrate empathy and total acceptance of every guest.  The idyllic image of healthy family life is of a family coming together, eating dinner and sharing about how their day went. During dinner the good and the bad stuff is okay to share, and mutual support is given.  This is the setting of Teen Feed meal nights, and I believe can serve as a reparative process in many of the guest’s lives.  I sometimes wonder of if this is the first time they have ever experienced eating dinner in this way.

It is an honor to be able to volunteer at Teen Feed.