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Leadership Spokane team raising money for Northeast Youth Center

Thu., March 5, 2009

Sometimes the right people hook up.

It looks like that’s what happened in the case of Northeast Youth Center and Steve Salvatori’s scan team from this year’s Leadership Spokane class. Salvatori’s group was looking for a “human needs” project, and the Northeast Youth Center needs a commercial freezer to stock food for its Kid’s Cafe; now Salvatori’s group is trying to make that happen.

“I have four classmates with me on this project for Human Needs day,” said Salvatori, who is the director of the Spokane Entrepreneurial Center. “We present to the class in April, and we knew we had to do a class project.”

Leadership Spokane’s class is broken into smaller work groups – scan teams – which focus on a specific topic, like human needs, and then do a presentation to the entire class about it.

It was scan team member Lisa Saddler who knew about Northeast Youth Center.

“They really found us,” said Kimbre Vega, center director. “We met with them before Christmas and they asked what our goals are. I looked at them and said, ‘My list is huge.’ ”

The Northeast Youth Center is in the heart of one of the poorest areas in town and provides recreational programs and summer camps for neighborhood children. The Kid’s Cafe program is associated with Second Harvest Food Bank.

At the top of Vega’s wish list was a commercial freezer to keep perishable food for the Kid’s Cafe.

The Leadership Spokane group has set a fundraising goal of $15,000.

“The freezer will probably cost between $3,000 to $5,000, and we’d like to put some food in it, too,” said Salvatori. Any surplus of funds will go toward maintenance of the appliances at the center and to support the programs there.

During the school year, about 140 children are registered for the Kid’s Cafe program and come in for snacks before and after school – but some days, many more come in.

“We were there visiting and the kids just come in like a platoon,” said Salvatori. “They do so much for the kids. They provide food and they provide a stable environment that some of the children are missing at home.”

Vega said she’s seeing more hungry children.

“They come here for breakfast snack, then race off the van at school to see if they can make it to free breakfast,” said Vega. “We don’t know if the kids miss meals at night, but we see the need and we try to fill it.”

The Northeast Youth Center is in the Hillyard Baptist Church, where it also hosts summer camps.

“We really need the freezer for summer,” said Tim Frye, program manager at the Northeast Youth Center. “In the summer, when school is out, we often have more than 400 kids for breakfast and lunch here.”

Reach Pia Hallenberg Christensen at (509) 459-5427 or

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