The city of Mercer Island’s long-standing youth volunteer program, Volunteer Outreach In Communities Everywhere (VOICE), received the Jon Nelson Community Service Award from nonprofit Community Lunch on Capitol Hill on Oct. 8.
The award recognizes VOICE’s service and leadership in supporting Community Lunch’s mission, which is to provide hot, nutritious meals and survival services to low-income people and those experiencing homelessness in Seattle.
VOICE has been supporting Community Lunch through volunteerism since 2008. It also supports dozens of other organizations across King County, many of which focus on food insecurity and homelessness (including Operation Sack Lunch, NW Harvest and TeenFeed), outdoor restoration/environmental work (EarthCorps, Mountains to Sound, Washington Trails Association, etc.) and community events (Cascade Bicycle Club, Mercer Island Farmers Market, Footloose Disabled Sailing, etc.).
About 250 Island students provided 10,000 community service hours at more than 50 nonprofits last summer.
“Community Lunch is one of our most popular organizations because it is so hands-on and tangible — our youth volunteers are really able to see the importance of the work they’re doing when they serve a hot meal to clients,” said Tambi Cork, youth development coordinator for the city’s Youth and Family Services Department (YFS). “I think this project site is also one of the most influential on participants for that same reason — by spending time in a community so different from their own, our youth learn about poverty, food insecurity and homelessness first hand.”