Helping Homeless US/Immigrant Teens

Hi, my name is Cooper,  I am a Case Manager in Seattle, I have been a social worker for the last 7 years.  I work with at risk- homeless youth all over the main focus is to  build trust and help them see that they do have the power to change their lives. Given my own life experiences, as a young person...I have been able to better connect with them. 

There had been many faces growing up offering strength and guidance to me.. such as my foster mom, case workers, my family, counselors....then police officers, attorneys and judges, all of these relationships have empowered me to make a difference.

I faced adversities as many do at a young age and I battled a couple identity issues and losses. My addiction took over fast as a young teen and for a long period it seemed there was no hope.  I have learned that there is always hope!

It took the right time and place for someone to put some simple ideas in my head. “That I hadn’t been to jail sober once,” and “if I don’t find a solution for my drugs and drinking I'll continue to struggle..eventually losing my freedom or my life.” Hearing those ideas at the right time and right place gave me a new perspective and hope for my own life. 

I went into treatment, joined A.A, opened myself to learn and grow, served others and now have 8 years of sobriety. I believe other addicted and homeless teens deserve the same opportunity and hope that I was given.

In the last few years, a larger number of Spanish speaking teens in our city deal  with homelessness, addiction and are victims of human trafficking. 

As case workers, we accompany teens as they appear before court mandated appointments. Immigration, citizenship or court hearings, we find clothes for interviews, coach them, search for treatment, health care and housing. Despite their sometimes isolated lives and struggles these teens continue to reach out for help, many speak very little or no English at all. 

We provide resources and support at the youth center. But an
in-depth conversation with them to help build trust so they make different choices is extremely challenging due to the language barrier. 

Because of those situations, I became determined to be fluent  in Spanish, so that I can build a relationship and be a consistent advocate for these teens. 

I believe I can make a difference and have been on a mission. Last year I started saving money and worked a second job to be able  to attend a Spanish Language Immersion School in Mexico to become fluent in Spanish.  Instituto Cultural Oaxaca in Oaxaca, C.P. 68000 Mexico 

My goal is to complete  4 quarters of Spanish Immersion Schooling and also  volunteer in youth social work programs during my 6 month stay.  

If you read this far...Thank you so much!

My goal is to raise at least $1,600 which is less than 1/2 of my lodging/meals/tuition costs. I have worked hard to save over 1/2 of the money and have already purchased my round trip ticket,first part of tuition and the family stay, studio deposit. I leave on Oct 23rd and back in April and I will live with a local family for the first 2 weeks and then in a small studio in a building with other students.

I am so very grateful for any level of support you might be able to provide for my mission to Mexico.

I am nervous about being away from my family and friends...but believe this will make an effective and hopefully lasting difference for the lives of the homeless teens we serve in Seattle and other locations. 

  • Scott and Barbara DeWall 
    • $108 
    • 36 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $100 
    • 36 mos
  • Judy Bergstrom  
    • $50 
    • 36 mos
  • Bill Veazey 
    • $100 
    • 36 mos
  • Natalie Wilkerson  
    • $50 
    • 36 mos
See all

Organizer and beneficiary

Colleen Wilks 
Seattle, WA
Joseph Skunkcap 
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