SEATTLE, Washington (Feb. 5, 2019) — More than 300 community leaders came together for The Seattle Hotel Association’s 22nd Annual Evening of Hope gala, raising over $579,000 for StolenYouth, a local nonprofit committed to ending child sex trafficking in Washington state.
The Seattle Hotel Association designated StolenYouth as the beneficiary of its philanthropy work for three years. The association recognized the co-founders of StolenYouth for starting the organization in early 2012. The Evening of Hope opened with a proclamation by Seattle Mayor Jenny A. Durkan, declaring Feb. 2, 2019, as the “Seattle Hotel Association Evening of Hope.”
Sheri Schultz, president, and co-founder of the Schultz Family Foundation introduced the 13 co-founders of StolenYouth and celebrated their vision. She said, “On any given night in Seattle, almost 500 children are bought and sold as a commodity. They are disconnected and vulnerable. Many are homeless. I am honored to support the founders of StolenYouth in their pioneering work to end child sex trafficking, one of the most important human rights issues of our time.”
Speaking on behalf of the co-founders, Patty Fleischmann said, “When we first learned about the issue of global child trafficking, we never could have dreamed we would be where we are today, working to help vulnerable children and youth in our own backyard.”
During the evening’s live auction, there was a bidding frenzy that included a Mercer Island Progressive Waterfront Dinner Cruise for 8 (sold twice at $10,000 each for a total of $20,000); an opportunity to meet the cast of Will & Grace (sold twice at $6,750 each for a total of $13,500); an eight night Hawaiian Escape on Kauai (sold for $9,700); a vacation of a lifetime to Costa Rica for seven nights (sold for $8,000); and a trip to Marrakech (sold for $7,500).
The new funds will support ongoing work in King County and new programs in Pierce County, homeless youth programs, safe shelter and housing, prevention technologies, job training and educational opportunities.
For an example of the type of programming these funds will support, consider that a gift of $500 provides one to two months’ rent for survivors in emergency situations; $1,000 covers a professional license in a new industry; $2,500 covers programs to counsel and train “buyers” away from exploiting children for sex; $5,000 educates hundreds of high school students about sex trafficking through social media; $10,000 helps educate health care professionals so that they can better spot signs of trafficking; and $25,000 expands programming to Pierce County and other counties in Washington state.
Throughout the raise the paddle portion of the evening, the room was filled with many heroes. There were a number of attendees who raised their paddle at the $25,000 and $10,000 levels, which contributed to securing over $320,000 in new funding.
“It was a magical evening,” said Pam Norick, StolenYouth’s president. “We are so grateful to the Seattle Hotel Association. The funding received from the Evening of Hope gala will allow StolenYouth to provide services to victims and survivors of child sex trafficking and allow us to invest in new technologies, training and other preventative measures.”
Kyra Doubek, a survivor of child sex trafficking, spoke poignantly to the attendees about her recovery from “the life,” when she was being trafficked, as she escaped an unstable home environment. She said, “to each and every one of you, from the deepest place in my soul, thank you for supporting StolenYouth and believing in the mission to end the exploitation of children in Washington state—a child like I once was, and never got to be.”
Seattle Hotel Association President Shannon Sheron said, “The Seattle Hotel Association is proud to support the important mission of StolenYouth in protecting our community’s at-risk children and giving them hope.”
During the past 22 years, the Seattle Hotel Association has enjoyed being a devoted community collaborator in helping to raise the essential funding for many of Seattle’s nonprofits, such as Lifelong, Susan G. Komen, Plymouth Housing Group, Pike Place Market Foundation, Seattle Police Foundation and Mary’s Place. By leveraging the combined influence of downtown Seattle hotel members, the gala has raised $10.43 million to date.
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About Seattle Hotel Association
Established in 1986, the Seattle Hotel Association promotes tourism, street safety, industry-related education, and reinvesting in the local Seattle community through philanthropy. The Association works closely with Mary’s Place, homeless advocates, local business organizations, and human service providers to reduce the city’s homeless population. The objective of the organization is to develop an effective working relationship between hotel member properties; promote the highest standards of the lodging industry among the association’s members; provide legislative and regulatory advocacy on matters pertaining to the lodging and tourism industry and create a favorable climate that promotes the economic well-being of the hospitality industry. www.seattlehotelassociation.org
Founded in 2012, StolenYouth inspires action, fundraises and invests in partners in an effort to dismantle the marketplace exploiting children for sex. It supports organizations that work to prevent child sex trafficking and offer youth victims the vital support they need to become survivors.