Teen Action Fair @ The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

On Saturday, students spent a full day with us (over twice as long as our usual Saturday practice) for a unique service learning opportunity. Students started their morning with squash practice and then we all ventured over to the Gates Foundation Visitor Center for their Teen Action Fair. 

At the fair, our scholars visited booth after booth of other youth presenting about a variety of youth-focused nonprofits in which they are involved. Students and adults alike were able to learn how to get involved. One of our 8th grade scholars, Ayana, took it upon herself to bring a fundraising activity back to her advisory group at school to help raise money for youth living in poverty. Other students helped make goodie bags for Birthday Dreams, an organization that is "dedicated to bringing joy to homeless children with the gift of a birthday party."

We look forward to continued conversations about how to get involved as a youth living in the Seattle area. Our scholars are learning that there is no time like the present to begin to make the changes that they wish to see in the world. 

We ended the day, taking in some of the much needed sunshine at Seattle Center, while students worked up a sweat on the "Artists in Play" playground. On our bus ride home, we discussed the lunches that we had eaten and what made them healthier- whole grain bread, lesser amounts of mayonnaise, carrots, baked vs fried chips.

A BIG Thank You to our volunteers Leah Karlsen & Maria Garguilo for joining us!

MLK Day: A Day On, Not a Day Off

Filling our bellies after a day of hard work.

Filling our bellies after a day of hard work.

While many people were home today enjoying their day off, in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., those of us at SUS had an amazing Day On! Through Earthcorps, our scholars spent their day off from school, planting trees, ferns, and other plants in the Cheasty Greenspace. After working together to plant tens of these plants, we joined other groups of volunteers to carry and dump hundreds (or so it seemed) of buckets of mulch on the area to help suppress growth of weeds and improve the soil. Among other plans, I was told they are hoping to create a bike path through this area of the Cheasty Greenspace. After our planting was done, we ate delicious sandwiches donated by Homegrown and talked about the work of Martin Luther King Jr. and the importance of continuing his work today. By the end of it all, we were ready for a well deserved nap!

"What motivated you to serve today?"

"What motivated you to serve today?"

SUS Quarterly Update

Holiday season is fast approaching (Friday sale ads are already in full swing) and as we settle back with a few meals and beverages down our bellies, rejoice with our nearest and dearest ones, it is time to reflect over our successes and lessons learnt during this year. We have a lot to be thankful for at SUS. Thanks to your generous and undeterred support, we continue to grow steadily on all accounts. We inducted 6 new students to bring our strength to 20, we expanded our weekly program to 4 week days (Mon-Wed, Sat), we strengthened our partnership with Seattle Athletic Club (SAC) that now includes professional Squash coaching for our students, expanded court and study times, laundry services and full support of their owner, management and staff!
 
We are super excited to have Kate Frost, our new Academic Director step up and take on full-time responsibility as Program Director for Seattle Urban Squash. Read more from her in the following section. Our immediate focus is to streamline our operations with the new expanded schedule and solve transportation challenge across multiple schools, their varying closing times and Seattle traffic. We want all our students to be in our program ideally for 3 times a week and are looking to hire part-time driver or consider Uber, Public Transportation or Private Cabs to make this work. In short time Kate has been with us, she has not only taken charge of our Academics Program but also helped us a great deal organizing our Fall Team Tournament as well as first ever Sox Hop Disco party. We take this opportunity to extend our thanks to Erica Helsel who recently resigned as our Executive Director given her family obligations. We are glad to have her continued involvement in our program as a volunteer and active supporter.

A brief recap of our recent fundraising activities – We had an exciting Fall Team Tournament at the SAC downtown in September where spirited competition, tilted with handicap points (available for additional contributions to SUS cause) saw 8 teams compete for their name on our annual trophy. Congratulations to team Elena – comprising of Elena Wagemans, Brandi Conforth and Kathy Nash who lifted the cup this year beating many of the stronger opponents! Besides our regular fair of Spring/Fall team tournaments and our annual fundraising gala dinner, this year, we decided to host a more fun-filled, lighthearted Sox Hop Disco Party and reach out to broader community at both downtown and Northgate clubs. The evening was a great success with everyone shaking their legs, following George (Sommerrock)’s Zumba moves, enjoying great food and beverages till wee hours of the morning. While majority of attendees were familiar faces and our die-hard supporters, we managed to raise great awareness and realized how deep rooted and trusted bond we have come to forge with Seattle Athletic Clubs – their staff members worked and danced till late with us. We hope to jointly host many more of these events in future. We also continue to make inroads steadily with Corporate Grants and Employer Matching Programs including Microsoft, Google, MERCK, UBS, Amazon Smiles, Fidelity Charitable, Schwab Charitable, The Education Foundation of America, Henderson Foundation and many others.If your employer happens to provide an employer matching program, please do let us know and we will be happy to help you with required documentation to double your contributions to us thanks to your employers match.

There are new opportunities on the horizon for our students. First off, SAC has offered students in our program to graduate into their academy where they get to play more competitively, and improve their overall fitness. Next, we are very fortunate to have been approached by college preparatory boarding schools (9-12 grade) (The Hill, Choate Rosemary Hall) with details of their boarding program and financial aid offered. The Hill routinely gets kids from Urban Squash programs on the east coast and are reaching out to include us in their list. They have rigorous selection criteria (Students’ grades B or better, be ready to represent School in their chosen sport) so we need to get our kids working towards such prestigious programs. Coupled with SAC’s offer to induct kids in their own academy, these are great motivational instruments for our students.

Mark your calendars!

Volunteering: Weekly Program
Mon/Wed: Athletics 4-5pm, Academics 5-6pm
Tue: Athletics 3:15-4:15pm, Academics 4:15-5:15pm
Sat: Athletics 10:30-11:30am, Academics 11:30-12:30pm
Fundraisers: Upcoming events
We haven’t begun planning 2017 calendar but these include:
Spring Team Tournament (SAC Northgate)
Summer Annual Fundraiser (Venue TBD)
Fall Team Tournament (SAC Downtown)
Holiday Sox Hop Disco Mixer (SAC Downtown)

Keeping with the holiday season, I recently had the opportunity to attend “To Boldly Go” Fall Concert by Puget Sound Symphony Orchestra (PSSO) (Thank you Anne-Marie!) and “Ovations 2016” by The Whole U (Thank you Varun!). Besides fabulous performances, I was struck by the sheer amount of work that goes into putting these programs together and majority of it is conducted by volunteers. Same is true for our program, our board of directors, fellow donors, event coordinators, program volunteers work tirelessly for nothing but our gratitude and thank-you notes to help our small staff conduct day to day program, coordinate with kids, parents, teachers; plan and carry out fund raising events, mail out tax receipts, do bookkeeping and much more.

On behalf of our board of directors and our staff, I take this opportunity to extend our thanks and warm wishes for this holiday season. May the new year bring the best in us and the best for us all.
We look forward to your continued personal involvement and support to our shared vision of creating pathways of opportunities for kids from under-served communities around us through Squash, Education and Community Service.
 
Sincerely,
Naveen Garg
President, Seattle Urban Squash

SUS Board of Directors
Naveen Garg, president
Dar Khalighi, vice president
Wibe Wagemans, secretary
William Loughrin, treasurer
Spencer Jacobs, development director
Anne-Marie Canis, director
Lulu Chou, director

Message from Kate Frost, Program Director
 
Hello all,
I have met and talked with many of you already, and am looking forward to meeting the rest of you in due time. For now, let me introduce myself a little more formally. I moved to Seattle this summer from Chicago, where I was working as a teacher in the Chicago Public Schools. I have been working as an educator since 2008 and have experience teaching in New York, Boston, Chicago, and Niger, West Africa. I am thrilled to be continuing my work with students in Seattle! In addition to teaching, I have also worked as an Assistant Director at a summer environmental program for urban youth, and as the Assistant Director for Vassar's After-school Tutoring program. I have a bachelor's degree in Psychology and a master's degree in Education. I have already begun to get to know our students working with them each week as Academic Director, and I am very excited to continue to help our students and our program grow to their fullest potential as SUS’s new Program Director. Please do not hesitate to reach out to me with any questions or concerns at kate.frost@seattlesquash.org. And if you would like to volunteer for us, either as a tutor or as a squash coach, please let me know! It is with your support that we continue to expand our program.
Happy Holidays!
All the best,
Kate

SUS Contact Information
921 N 82ND ST, Seattle, WA 98103-4321
Reach us: +1(206)784-1332, info@seattlesquash.org
About us: http://seattlesquash.org
Like us: http://facebook.com/seattleurbansquash
Donate: http://paypal.me/seattleurbansquash

Seattle Urban Squash is a registered 501(C)3 Public Charity
WA-UBI# 601-870-078 | Charities# 6997 | EIN# 91-1906951