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    A Better Seattle Press Conference


    Convening for kids

    By Clare Farnsworth

    As Pete Carroll was driving to work one day while coaching the University of Southern California, he heard on the radio that gang violence had claimed another life. Before the week was out, 11 had been killed in related incidences.

    Carroll decided he had to try and do something to help, which led the establishment of “A Better LA,” which focuses on saving lives and transforming communities.

    And that involvement has led to the creation of “A Better Seattle,” which is patterned after the program in Los Angeles. The community campaign was launched Thursday during a news conference at Virginia Mason Athletic Center – where Carroll was joined by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Seattle mayor Mike McGinn, Seahawks president Peter McLoughlin and Matt Griffin, a volunteer and board member for the YMCA of Greater Seattle, as well as representatives from area law enforcement agencies.

    “I had no idea where it was going or what was going to become of it, I just felt a real surge of need try and do something,” said Carroll, now coach of the Seahawks.

    “I had no clue that we would have the ability to convene the people that we convened by calling a meeting and they just showed up. And from what started that first night, everything blossomed from there. It took a long time.”

    The blossoming of “A Better LA” helped the idea for “A Better Seattle” take root after Carroll was hired by the Seahawks in January of 2010.

    Instead of pushing the idea, he waited for other to come to him. When that finally happened, he reached out to Balmer and his wife, Connie, who just happen to be neighbors. One meeting led to another, which led to others getting involved.

    “I realized – and again it’s happened, to a certain extent – that ability to convene is where the real magic is for us in this work,” Carroll said. “I don’t have the answers, but the fact that we can get people to come together and do good work is the key.”

    The YMCA already had a program involved in what Carroll wants to do – Alive & Free. But while the organization had the commitment and volunteers, Carroll has a platform to assist their work – and also raise money for it.

    In fact, he turned his 60th birthday – which just happened to be Thursday – into a fundraiser for “A Better Seattle.” Carroll asked fans to donate to the program, and he will match those donations. The goal was $10,000, and it had been reached by 3 p.m.

    “That’s where the benefit is. Because we do it, people find out about it,” Carroll said.

    As for the outpouring of funds that were donated, Carroll offered, “It’s a beautiful thing.”

    Just like the work being done by the Alive & Free program, which was delighted to accept Carroll’s financial support and the spike in awareness that the Seahawks’ involvement will generate.

    As McLoughlin put it, “The Seahawks will fully support and manage ‘A Better Seattle.’ ” Kevin Griffin will serve as executive director of the campaign.

    Those already involved in the YMCA program appreciate it. All of it.

    “The money comes and goes, and it does affect the work,” said Paul Patu, the supervisor for the Alive & Well team. “But this enhances the work. What it speaks to is that an issue such as youth violence that seems to affect our entire community can’t be done by one individual, or even one organization. So what it comes down to is kind of the old saying, ‘If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.’

    “That’s what we’re doing.”

    Patu has been involved in this work for 15 years, inheriting the role from his parents.

    “We have our sights set on the big picture,” Patu said, “and that’s a violence-free community for our kids to grow up in.”


    Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll and Steve Ballmer announce community campaign

    RENTON, Wash. - Seahawks Head Coach Pete Carroll and Steve Ballmer announced today the launch of ‘A Better Seattle,’ a community campaign to raise awareness and funds to prevent gang violence in Seattle and south King County.

    “A Better Seattle is a campaign that has brought together policy makers, elected officials, law enforcement and community members to help kids in our community be safe,” said Seahawks Head Coach Pete Carroll. “We are committed to take action that will result in a reduction of gang and youth violence in our communities.”

    A major focus of the campaign is to support Alive & Free, a program of the YMCA of Greater Seattle.

    “Pete Carroll has shown incredible leadership on the field and in the community and I am thrilled he is bringing that to create A Better Seattle,” said Steve Ballmer. “We believe in the importance of providing youth with better opportunities and Connie and I are proud to partner with the Seahawks and the YMCA of Greater Seattle to support this effort.”

    The Y’s Alive & Free program will serve as the official street outreach program for ‘A Better Seattle’ due to their proven track record to reduce gang violence.

    “Alive & Free provides young people with the knowledge and skills they need to become responsible, empowered and self-sufficient adults and active members of the community,” said Bob Gilbertson, Jr., President & CEO, YMCA of Greater Seattle.

    The Y’s Alive & Free program provides staffing, training, food, medical care, educational supplies, case management support and in-reach programs to youth in King County juvenile detention facilities and other essential services.

    “The Seahawks will fully support and manage A Better Seattle,” said Seahawks President Peter McLoughlin.


    Help make Seattle a better place

    A Better Seattle is a new Seattle Seahawks community relations program led by Head Coach Pete Carroll, in partnership with the YMCA of Greater Seattle and the Seattle Youth Violence Prevention Initiative, designed to create a culture of peace by reaching at-risk youth and reducing violence in our communities. A Better Seattle serves as a unifying force to develop partnerships between corporations, law enforcement and community groups to build healthy communities and reduce youth violence. The goal is simple: make kids in the Pacific Northwest the safest and healthiest kids in America!


    The makings of A Better Seattle