Last Saturday night, we mentioned the Southwest Youth and Family Services Night of Giving Gala – including an award for West Seattle mega-volunteers Jim Guenther and Sandy Adams. We noted that we hoped to hear more about it, and now we have the full story on their award and other highlights of the big event, courtesy of SWYFS development coordinator Adriana Zazula:
It was a downpour over the Georgetown Ballroom last Saturday night, but that did not stop more than 200 people from attending Southwest Youth & Family Services (SWYFS) Night of Giving Gala. Amongst the guests were elected officials City Councilmember Lisa Herbold, County Council Chair Joe McDermott, State Rep. Eileen Cody, and State Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon. Each came to the event with the assurance of hearing “Voices of Our Community.” And that they did. From one-on-one conversations with SWYFS staff about program needs to poetry readings and music performed by current participants.
Perhaps the most passionate voice came from SWYFS Executive Director Steve Daschle on how the current political climate is affecting our families and an equally powerful testimony as to the impact of SWYFS programs from former participant, Yohan Lara Aguilar.
Another spotlight was also put on fellow West Seattle residents Jim Guenther and Sandy Adams, presented by board chair Laura Ware. Since 2009, Southwest Youth & Family Services recognizes outstanding volunteers who have made a significant contribution to our work with the Weeks Family Volunteer Award. In honor of Ben and Roberta Weeks and their children, SWYFS selects a volunteer for their abiding commitment to improve the West Seattle community and exemplify our mission of partnering with families to transform their futures.
Jim and Sandy have done so much for the West Seattle community at large over the years. Fellow community members wanted to contribute the testaments to their legacy, one of which was Managing Director of ArtsWest, Laura Lee. Lee said, “Sandy and Jim are two of the most genuine, giving, caring people that I have had the privilege of knowing. I think of them both with hands outstretched, love in their hearts, and an energy and spirit that never flags or dims. Sandy has been a crucial volunteer, taking on some of the most un-glamorous and difficult work for ArtsWest. She has a lightness in her step only matched by the lightness in her heart. Jim is smart. One of those people that you really should pay attention to every word he says because it comes from a place of such intellect and experience. He gives generously and freely and is passionate about connecting people to important work. They are both not in anything for the short-term glory or the gain, they are committed to a life of giving and a spirit of generosity.”
Jim and Sandy have taken a great interest in all aspects of the work of Southwest Youth & Family Services, including our education center, our academic and enrichment programs at New Futures. Jim has consistently taken the time to get to know our families and youth and understand the hardships that they face. Together, Jim and Sandy have donated funds for vans, technology, post-secondary scholarships, and more for our students. Their contributions allow for another chance for our youth to access what is necessary for them to transform their futures.
Southwest Youth & Family Services would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to event sponsors International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, Nucor Steel, Amerigroup Washington, Tom & Linda Daschle, Potter Construction, Molina Healthcare, King County Housing Authority, and Alaska Airlines, as well as all the guests and volunteers who participated and supported the 2017 Night of Giving Gala.