2020 Annual Impact Report

Reflections from the Executive Director

Friends,

Through the COVID-19 Crisis, Human Services Agencies like New Horizons have grown in ‘dog years,’ exponentially changing over a short period of time. In six months, New Horizons moved through what felt like three years’ of growth, development and adjustments. In many ways facing these challenges, while attempting to hold high the dignity, safety, and hopes of YYA experiencing homelessness, is why I got into this work.

This season has the ability to make the future cloudy, while making easier days, prior to COVID-19, hard to remember. This Annual Impact Report is our attempt to remember the ‘whole year’ and  dream of what we will continue to accomplish together.  This year, despite its challenges, is without a doubt a year to celebrate and to hold up in our collective New Horizons’ memories as one of our finest years. The New Horizons community has been a part of something incredible. We stood at the crossroads of a global pandemic, arm in arm with the youth we serve, supported by our New Horizons Community, and we didn’t falter, in fact we thrived.

The crisis facing our city’s homeless youth remains pressing. The youth and young adults experiencing homelessness in Seattle, are arriving at New Horizons with increased levels of trauma, from broken relationships, domestic abuse, mental health concern, and co-occurring substance use disorders.

This year we have continued to be a consistent and safe space for the most vulnerable among us, and while much of the growth we have achieved has aged us in ‘dog years’, it has also taught us that you can do anything with a community like ours behind you.

It is easy to lose yourself in the fog of pessimism, I hope that this note can serve as a reminder that 2020 is not a lost year for us, instead it will continue to be one that sparks optimism and faith that even in the darkest of days we can find hope.

All My Thanks,

Rob Stewart, Executive Director of New Horizons

Our Year in Review

Programs & Services

Shelter

We provide two shelters, Cedar Street which provides up to 35 beds nightly and The Nest, a transitional shelter of 15 beds. Youth reside in The Nest on a month to month basis where each has access to their own bed, a shared kitchen space, and a pod to store belongings.

Case Management

Case managers assist with housing placements, relational support, connections with providers, retrieving government documents, and address any barriers to housing. With the support of case managers, youth have consistent support to move towards stable housing.

Youth Employment

The Apprenticeship Program offers jobs and training through Street Bean and other partners. Youth earn a stipend, learn a skill, and develop soft skills for long-term employment. Employment navigation assists youth in finding and sustaining a job through coaching.

Day Programs

Day program offers the opportunity to access behavioral and mental health services. During the week youth can participate in Hygiene Program, Street Salt, Health Clinic, Mental Health Services, and Sacred Rest. All programs allow youth to connect with our staff.

Community Voices

Fred Kingston, Director of Shelter & Strategic Partnerships

“During the COVID-19 Crisis New Horizons’ role expanded because our young people needed to be able to stay inside at a time when many of the community resources they would normally rely on such as libraries and community centers closed their doors.

The partnership with the YMCA developed fast. A small team worked together to rapidly stand up the day shelter program, and it launched on April 20th, with the program addressing several critical needs:

  • shelter that allowed social distancing
  • access to meals and case management
  • the ability for New Horizons to make safety updates at our Belltown location

Through all of these changes our team worked hard to put the young people we serve at the center of this work, keeping them top of mind and always looking for new ways to support them. I am proud to call New Horizons my place of work, my team, and my friends.”

Hannah Wong, New Horizons Volunteer

“My capstone project through the University of Washington allowed me to volunteer at New Horizons. I expected, as I often have in the past, to make an impact on those I served, not vice versa.

After a year and a half of volunteering, I’ve come to realize that New Horizons has made more of an impact on me than I have had on it. It is one thing to learn in a classroom about the issues faced by those experiencing homelessness, but there is really no other way to truly understand without talking to those with lived experience.

There is a sense of community that I have felt since the beginning. What makes New Horizons special are the relationships built between everyone who comes through the doors. While I am close in age to the youth I serve, many of them have experienced so much more life than I, and they inspire me through their hopefulness and persistence. Every week I look forward to connecting over a meal, learning about their interests and passions. These interactions are simple, yet real examples of what it means to be in that community. It is always bittersweet when youth are ready to move on from New Horizons, while we are so glad they no longer need us, they will be truly missed.

These past months volunteers have had to remain flexible in how we served, altered by COVID-19 precautions, but these months have made me realize even more my appreciation for the community there, and the privilege I hold dear of being part of it. Not only has my experience grounded me in the importance of community and building relationships, it has given me a valuable glimpse of how change does not always have to be made on a large-scale –- change can start with a simple conversation.”

Brian Garrison, Chaplain

“When COVID-19 struck Seattle and we moved our daytime services to the YMCA, it became clear that the fear and instability that rocked our city hit our young people harder than most. And their greatest need at this time was simply rest. I seek to respond to the spiritual needs that young people are voicing, and I remembered from my time as a case manager just how rarely people who are experiencing homelessness are able to find real rest. We set up the weekly Street Salt service in a spare room at the YMCA, and created it as a beautiful space of rest.

As we rethought much of our programming for our return to Belltown, what had started as a spontaneous extension of Street Salt needed to become a cornerstone of our new youth engagement, and the program we now call “Sacred Rest” was born. Young people have consistently filled the room to capacity, and are learning in their bones that God’s face towards them is not one of judgement, but of welcoming love.

For so many reasons, the young people I work with cannot be merely told that the Lord is good, they need to taste and see for themselves. At Sacred Rest, homeless youth are reminded that there is nothing they need to earn, that they can put their anxieties away for just that hour and rest in the never-ending unconditional love of God.

I have been at New Horizons for nearly five years now, and I have never seen anything that communicates quite so experientially to the youth we serve just how valuable they are and how much human dignity we see in them. During the season of profound rejection, forsakenness, and loss that is homelessness, our youth now have this refuge where they are reminded with such visceral beauty that God is with them.”

Jake Ripp, Former New Horizons Youth

“I want to say thank you for everything you have done for me. You may not all know this, but when I first came to New Horizons in the Fall of 2016 my life had completely fallen apart. I was one-hundred percent alone and abandoned by family, my social skills were nonexistent and I was suicidal.

Over the years New Horizons has been my safe place, not simply because it was a place to sleep or to get a meal, but because of the amazing people that work at New Horizons. At times, when I almost died, staff helped me, at times when I was alone, staff was there for me. Unlike most places where youth are looked at as lost causes, New Horizons truly sees each and every one of us as people. Getting to know their stories, truly showing empathy, and doing what they can to help us get to where we want to be in life.

There is no other place like New Horizons, it’s the staff that make the difference. Everyone works so hard and from their heart and soul. Crazy things happen! BUT you all understand that the youth are people too, things get hard but you all stay and go through it with us. I have a home now, I have friends, and I even have a relationship with an amazing girl. That would have been 100% impossible if it wasn’t for the advice, the support, and all the care you provided. You saved my life, thank you.”

Thank you to the dedicated community of New Horizons, through your generosity and commitment to youth and young adults — all of this is possible. 

New HorizonsAnnual Impact Report 2020