Volunteer Spotlight: Collin

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We are pleased to present Collin as this month’s Volunteer Spotlight. Collin began volunteering with Teen Feed as an Advocate about a year and a half ago. Collin excels at forming solid relationships with young people and providing trusted advice about how to get through tough situations – often similar to experiences he had when he was young. As a formerly homeless youth, he brings a valuable perspective to his Advocate role and to the conversations he has with young people at Teen Feed.

Originally from New York, Collin has been living in Seattle for 11 years now. When he’s not at Teen Feed, Colin enjoys creating techno music, running his own record label, and being involved with DIY punk venues in town. Join us in celebrating Collin as this month’s Volunteer Spotlight!

When did you start at Teen Feed? What inspired you to volunteer with us? I started at Teen Feed a year and a half ago. I’ve lived in and around the University District for the entire 11 years I’ve lived in Seattle. During this time, I have seen a lot of kids struggling in my neighborhood. I think it’s pretty messed up that we live in one of the wealthiest cities in the country, and yet we have kids sleeping out in the entryways of store fronts on the Ave. You see people walk over these kids – literally walk over them. They’re kids and they’re fighting for their survival! I couldn’t just ignore it anymore. I went home one evening and looked for homeless youth charities -something I could get involved in and try and make a difference. I was once homeless as a kid, and my life had gone from that to this. At this point in my life, I think it’s important to start giving back to the community.

What was your impression of Teen Feed when you started? I was super nervous… in a room full of 75 people… I don’t know. But all that fear, anxiety and nervousness quickly went away. It lasted about a minute and a half. I was introduced to some of the guests, had a great meal, and swept up at the end of the night, and I was like, “this is really awesome!” I have gone back every Tuesday ever since.

We love food here at Teen Feed. What did you eat today? I think I ate candy for lunch. I only eat well when I’m at Teen Feed it seems. The rest of the week I eat candy.

How does volunteering at Teen Feed affect other parts of your life? My life is really hectic. I find going to Teen Feed and getting to help out my neighbors and my community is a great way to relax and gain perspective on my life. No matter how good my day was, I can go there and have a great conversation and a great meal and my day is even better. If I’m having a bad day, I can look around and find people who I can help. Doing so makes my life and the lives of the people around me better.

What is your favorite meal you have at Teen Feed? The month of November is usually really good because there’s a lot of Thanksgiving food. I love Thanksgiving – sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce. I would have gone to Teen Feed every day that month just to eat the potatoes! And I appreciate that there’s always a vegetarian option. The meal teams try to be very accommodating to people’s dietary needs. I imagine that can be pretty difficult for a room full of 70 kids. I’ve never had a bad meal at Teen Feed. All the meals are really good, but Thanksgiving month is probably my favorite.

What advice would give to new volunteers?  Just be yourself. Be honest, and be yourself.

Is there anything else about your experience that you would like to share? Volunteering at Teen Feed has been a completely positive experience. It sounds silly to say, but, oftentimes, it really is the high point of my week. I have a great life, but getting to come there every week and be involved in this is really one of the greatest things going on in my life. Sure, it can sometimes be difficult, sometimes challenging. But getting to spend some time doing something for other people really is one of the greatest things I can do. Really, one of the greatest things anyone can do.