Caden’s Story

What would you do with $156.14 if you were 9 years old?


Caden came to our Community Dinner with his mom and dad, Shannon and Justin, to serve our hungry and homeless neighbors. He heard their stories. “I had the feeling they need our help…it’s just not fair!”

Caden was determined to do something about it. He and his dad made a video and posted it to Facebook, inviting their friends and family to a very special birthday party for Caden’s younger sister; a party featuring Caden the Magician with donations gladly accepted.

Caden told us, “I didn’t want it to be about a magic show, I wanted it to be about giving.”


It must have been quite a show.

A few days later Caden brought $156.14 to our Next Step Community Resource Drop-In Center!

This year we’ll have nearly 6,000 visits to our Community Resource Center. More than half of our visitors will be homeless men, women, and children. That’s a startling statistic. But what is even more distressing for us is the other half of our visitors who are safely housed. Families who work hard but still struggle so much to make ends meet that they need our help, too.

With the support of over 200 partner churches, businesses, and community organizations we help our homeless neighbors get back on their feet. And, we help families stay in their homes with rent and utilities assistance, and more. We connect people to resources for housing, jobs, mental health, legal services, addiction recovery, and more - then we walk alongside them as they take their own next steps. There is no other support like this for our low-income neighbors in East Snohomish County.

It takes about $150,000 a year to staff and operate our Community Resource Center and to provide help and assistance to our neighbors in need.

Caden’s $156 paid for just about one hour – we think that’s pretty incredible and quite an amazing accomplishment for a nine-year-old magician.

This December, three generous families gave us a challenge grant - raise $30,000 in December and we’ll match your donations!

With this match, a $500 donation becomes $1,000 and will open our Community Resource Center for an entire day.


Caden wasn’t done giving.

A friend from school told Caden about Kidz Club and Student Leaders. About how middle and high school Student Leaders volunteer their time to help elementary school aged children with their homework and to learn new skills for success in school and life.

In our nearest elementary school, 7 out of 10 children live in poverty, 7 in 10 cannot read at grade level, and 8 in 10 are behind in math.

Caden tells us his favorite thing about helping younger children with math and reading is “when they finally get it” – that “aha” moment. “It’s a way to give back to our community, to build relationships, to make a difference in kids’ lives…” Caden is one of 30 Student Leaders who are making a difference in the lives of more than 100 children.

To be a Student Leader takes commitment – to regularly volunteer at Kidz Club, to attend Student Leader group, to keep up your grades, and more.

Caden is in eighth grade this year. We think he’s a pretty amazing young man. He told us the scariest part about being a Student Leader is to have younger kids look up to you, “They do what you do.” That’s why Student Leaders meet with Raylin Lucey, our Kidz Club and Student Leader Director, every week to learn what it means to be a leader.

Caden tells us Student Leaders has made a difference in his life, too. He’s learning how to build relationships and is making new friends. He’s learning how to help our kids when he notices them being extra quiet or withdrawn, sitting off to the side…”I go up to them, talk to them, ask what’s going on at home or school. It’s important to have a safe place to talk things out, to not let things build up, to find help…”

Student Leaders like Caden live full, busy lives, just like all of us. “But,” Caden says, “it’s important to get involved to help our community – to help yourself and others.”

Will you join Caden? Will you get involved to make our community a better place for every person?

We’re always looking for volunteers, especially for Kidz Club. There are many ways you can help. If you’d like to learn more, email Sarah Lunstrum –

And like Caden, will you invest in the future of our community to help our neighbors in need…of all ages?