Ryan’s House for Youth has taken its beloved “big red” couch various places, including sleeping in front of Langley City Hall to raise awareness. Pictured is the couch and youth during the Chochokum Arts Festival in July 2011. Photo provided

Ryan’s House for Youth has taken its beloved “big red” couch various places, including sleeping in front of Langley City Hall to raise awareness. Pictured is the couch and youth during the Chochokum Arts Festival in July 2011. Photo provided

Big Red Event for Ryan’s House

Homeless youth organization celebrating 10th anniversary

Tickets are now available for the Ryan’s House For Youth seventh annual “Big Red Event,” which will celebrate the organization’s 10-year anniversary while raising money to help homeless youths.

The event includes a catered dinner and auction.

“The greatest part of the evening is that the kids serve the meal and everyone gets to see that these are great, bright, amazing kids who have a bright future ahead of them,” founder and Executive Director Lori Cavender said.

“They just had a rough start — but they’re engaged and part of the community.”

“It’s great for the community to come to this event and understand the need that we have on the Island for these facilities,” she said.

The event is Saturday, Feb. 16 at the Coupeville Rec Hall. Doors open at 6 p.m. and dinner is served at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $50 and include dinner with a selection of local wine and beer. Dinner will be pork porchetta or stuffed portobello mushrooms, catered by Ciao in Coupeville.

Diners will also receive a small ornament made by the youth.

The “Big Red” name comes from the fact that it’s an event close to Valentine’s Day, but also for the “big red” couch that the house has used in the past to raise awareness for their cause.

One time, they slept on the couch in front of Langley City Hall all night. It was a warm July night, so they weren’t cold, Cavender said.

“We wanted to bring awareness about kids that were couch surfing,” she said, adding that “couch surfing” youth may not be what people picture when they imagine homelessness.

This year’s celebration is the biggest Big Red event so far, Cavender said, with a performance by musical guest Andre Feriante.

Feriante is an Italian-born, Segovia-trained guitarist and composer who has toured the world performing for more than 30 years.

His music is described as a blend of classical, flamenco and Brazilian styles.

“So, the food is going to be fabulous, the music is going to be fabulous,” Cavender said, “and we have some great auction items.”

Whidbey Island’s “Conductor of Fun” Jim Freeman will lead the auction. Items include local vacations, baskets from local businesses, a rug from Music For The Eyes and a new Gibson guitar. Gelato ice cream bowls handmade by the youth will also be auctioned.

Ryan’s House for Youth was Cavender’s idea over 10 years ago, while she was in college and had to create a senior project.

“Then I graduated in 2009 and said I might as well put the plan I spent a year working on into practice,” she said. It started out small, just herself and a few occasional volunteers running aid out of a van.

The name comes from her god-brother, Ryan Busche, who died as a young adult along with his wife, in an Alaska Airlines crash in January 2000.

Currently, Ryan’s House has 17.8 acres of land at the repurposed Country Inn, with queen-sized bunk beds and nine staff members.

Ryan’s House is always seeking volunteers, Cavender said.

Space is limited to 90 people. For tickets, go to ryanshouseforyouth.org or call 360-331-4575.

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