“So much of life is about answers, but it’s the questions you ask that lead you to where you are… Asking good questions will open so many more doors for God to work in your life.”
Cascade Fellows’ Program Coordinator, Shannon Vandewarker, sat down with Joey De Young, Executive Director of Urban Hands Fellowship in Seattle’s Greenwood neighborhood. We talked about the new Urban Hands Fellowship program and how being a part of the Cascade Fellows program has helped Joey refine the ways he connects his faith and his work.
Putting Down Roots in Greenwood
While many people feel called to a particular career, Cascade Fellows Alum, Joey DeYoung, feels called to a particular place, specifically the Greenwood neighborhood of Seattle. It’s a sense of calling that has come with a real sense of rootedness.
“Being rooted is not easy in a big city,” Joey admits. But being committed to Greenwood for the past eight years has allowed Joey to develop meaningful relationships.
“My work life, my church life, and my personal life are all very tied to that place. Of course, there need to set some boundaries, but really, life is just interruption. And being willing to be interrupted because I value my relationships with coworkers and other business owners is important.”
After a gas leak explosion in March of 2016 that caused a lot of property damage in the neighborhood, the community rallied together. Joey, Urban Hands, and other community leaders, were at the forefront of bringing the neighborhood together.
“Not only is the community rebuilding, it even seems to have hit a growth spurt.” Joey says smiling. He is very hopeful about Greenwood’s future.
“I feel like we’re on the cusp of something. There’s a lot of development and rejuvenation. What you see so often when that happens is that the people on the margins get pushed further to the margins, or they get pushed out. But there’s an opportunity right now to do something that could be really formational for the neighborhood for a long time. It’s gonna change for the better, regardless of whether I’m there or not.”
“It’s not just about real estate prices and trendy bars and seven-dollar cups of coffee–there are businesses and churches that are working behind the scenes to make this place a place that is welcoming for all people, including those who might not have the same opportunities somewhere else.”
Out of this commitment to the neighborhood, Joey gathered a community of people who’s common faith inform the ways they live and are committed to the Greenwood neighborhood.
“We’ve started a prayer breakfast, meeting once a month, thinking about how we can pray for each other, and talking about work from a faith perspective. It’s fun seeing others have that experience, too. We pray specifically for our neighborhood and our work and what is happening there. We ask each other, how has God been working alongside you?”
The hope is that by connecting these organizations, the Urban Hands Fellowship can be an outgrowth of the community at large- the result of likeminded people rallying around a growing need to foster and build into the next generation.
The Urban Hands Fellowship
The Urban Hands Fellowship is designed to connect young people in difficult situations with local businesses, giving them access to jobs.
“It’s an enrichment program that provides full-fledged employment with partnering businesses in Greenwood. While Urban Hands provides the support necessary for people coming out of difficult circumstances, we will also provide case managers, mental health counseling, financial coaching, and educational opportunities.”
“Getting them a job is a great start, but there’s a lot–depending on the person–that they could need in order to be successful at that job.”
In forming the fellowship, Joey used much of what he’s learned in Cascade Fellows, to bring different organizations together. In a lot of ways, Urban Hands is a community endeavor. “I have a team of people from various fields–juvenile justice, education, homeless outreach–reaching out to young people, building a bridge between them and local businesses.”
Joey explained that candidates will interview for the program first, and then be put in touch with local business owners to apply for the jobs that interest them. This also allows the people involved in Urban Hands to screen the candidates, making sure they are ready for that next step. While some may not be prepared for the program the first time they apply, Urban Hands is also thinking of ways to get these young people to the place where they are job-ready.”
Joey’s Cascade Fellows Experience
It was during Joey’s year in the Cascade Fellows program that the Urban Hands Fellowship started to take shape. He had the opportunity to really process this and pray over the development of the program with his cohort. It was these discussions that helped Joey turn his vision into reality.
“I was able to think about the program as something real and tangible, versus something nebulous. That’s the purpose of Cascade Fellows. Thinking about actual things you’re doing at work and why they matter to God. It’s a community of people who know you really well and can ask you the hard questions.”
“So much of life is about answers, but it’s the questions you ask that lead you to where you are. We all want to have the answers. So, leaving Cascade Fellows with a sense that it’s more important to ask the right questions at the right time was comforting. Asking good questions will open so many more doors for God to work in your life than sharing the right bits of wisdom. And with that comes the language with which to talk about your faith.”
“As I completed the program, I thought that I wouldn’t have to ask the big questions as much anymore, but what really stuck with me is not that we no longer ask questions, but that we learn to ask good questions, and listen to the responses of others.”
The launch of Urban Hands Fellowship this next month will certainly bring new opportunities for Joey to work alongside God. 2017 is sure to be an exciting year for Joey and for Greenwood.
For more information about the Urban Hands Fellowship, visit: Urban Hands Fellowship
To learn more about Cascade Fellows, visit our website.