TOGETHER! We Rise

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What can we do together to advance the health and well-being of all young people in our region? Visit TOGETHER!’s blog to enjoy updates on our work and information on issues concerning families and young people.


Our partners at Tumwater School District are deepening their equity and inclusion work after a racist incident that occurred at a Veteran’s Day assembly.

By now, many of you are probably aware of the controversy that surrounded George Washington Bush Middle School’s Veteran’s Day assembly on Thursday, November 9th. At the assembly, a Confederate flag was displayed as part of a program featuring the chronological history of American flags from 1775 to the present.

Bush Middle School is one of the schools in Tumwater served by TOGETHER!’s Community Schools program. TOGETHER! holds equity as a core value in all of our work. Racism is a barrier to the success of our children and, as such, fighting against systemic racism is necessary to our mission of advancing the health and well-being of all young people.

The Confederate flag was never an official flag of the United States of America. Rather, it represents a movement within this country that continues, to this day, to threaten the safety of communities of color.  We agree with the district’s position that its inclusion in the assembly was historically inaccurate as well as deeply insensitive.

This incident shines a light on the importance of addressing systemic racism, not only for Tumwater Schools, but for our entire community.  The precipice of change in which we find ourselves compels us to focus on collaboration work that is focused on solutions with all of our partners. TOGETHER!’s role within the district has been and will continue to be a supportive one. Through extensive conversation with district leadership, we are deepening our collaborative partnership to support their growth towards providing a truly safe, inclusive, and equitable learning environment.

We do not expect this change to take place immediately or without difficulty. Our commitment to the district and the community is that we will continue doing the work that is so important to us, ensuring that all students have an equal chance to succeed in school and in life.

 

Sincerely,

Meagan Darrow & Meghan Sullivan Goldenberger


Thank You for Giving Local!

This month, TOGETHER! participated in the first ever Give Local online giving campaign, and we are amazed by the results! Fifty of you donated to our campaign, raising $3,550 to support the expansion of Community Schools into Rochester and Yelm. Your support helps us create more school-based Community Resource Centers, connect more students and families with needed resources, and build more supportive communities for all our young people. Thank you! We can't do this work without you.

We'd also like to thank the Community Foundation for coordinating Give Local; Coldwell Banker, Greene Realty, and Olympia Federal Savings for sponsoring the campaign; South Sound Partners for Philanthropy for sponsoring Giving Bonus Wednesdays; and the Dawkins Charitable Trust for providing a matching grant, ensuring that your donations will go even further. 

These funds will support programs like Right From the Start, which coordinates story times and play groups for children ages 0-5 while coordinating resources for their families, and Yelm Community Schools, which connects middle school students and their families in Yelm to networks of support to ensure they have everything they need to succeed in school. All of our Community Schools programs share, at their core, our values of equity, community mobilization, and systems change. We believe that all students deserve an equal chance to succeed in school and in life, and we are committed to building systems that work for everyone. But we can't do it alone -- your support means so much. Thank you for being a part of our community!


Right from the Start Joins TOGETHER!'s Family of Programs

TOGETHER! is thrilled to welcome Right from the Start, and early learning center that serves families with children ages 0-5 in Rochester, WA, to our family of programs. Right from the Start, previously overseen by The United Way of Thurston County, engages whole families and communities with educational opportunities for parents as well as children, family engagement and community building events, Parents as Teachers group connections, and referrals to community resources.

Services like weekly story times, play groups, and parenting classes welcome families to the center and allow Nancy Villanueva, program coordinator, the opportunity to assess need and coordinate services for families. Every family that attends a Right from the Start program gets connected to a supportive community where they can access support and resources they might not have known were available. 

Family engagement and community partnerships are the cornerstone of TOGETHER!’s work for youth, so Right from the Start is a perfect fit with our organization. Access to high-quality early learning is crucial for ensuring that students are ready for kindergarten, setting them up for success through the rest of their K-12 years. Right from the Start not only makes early learning accessible, but provides comprehensive services that support the whole child and whole family. It’s the kind of work that TOGETHER! is proud to partner on, and we are very excited to have the opportunity to do this work in Rochester.


CALL FOR PROPOSALS: Healthy Futures, Redefining Prevention

 

TOGETHER! is accepting proposals for presentations that redefine prevention within the four focus areas of Accessing Educational Equity, Addiction in Context, Building Community Resiliency, and Health & Wellness for our 2018 Healthy Futures Conference. Please follow this link to fill out our Call for Proposals. The survey will close on Monday, December 18, 2017 at 5pm. We will respond to all proposals by Wednesday, January 31st.

Proposals must fit within at least one of the following four focus areas:

  1. Accessing Educational Equity: All young people deserve equal access to education, but inequality is built into the system. How do we, as educators, social workers, prevention specialists, and support staff, work to correct these inequalities? How do we change the systems that allow some students to succeed while others slip through the cracks? What elements are necessary in an equitable education system?
  2. Addiction in Context: Science has proven that addiction does not happen in a vacuum. Environmental factors like ACEs, toxic stress, lack of resiliency, lack of supportive relationships or community, all increase the likelihood of substance abuse and addiction in young people as they grow into adults. What can the world of prevention learn from this research? How can we incorporate this new understanding into our approach to preventing substance abuse and addiction and advancing the health and well-being of young people, their families, and our communities?
  3. Building Community Resiliency: Resilient communities save lives. But what makes a community resilient? How can we work together to build and reshape systems, practices, and policies to create more vibrant and resilient communities for our kids and families? We want to know what innovative partnerships you are building that strengthen your community. How do community involvement and community relationships impact the youth you work with?
  4. Health and Wellness: Health is a lot more than what happens at the doctor’s office, especially in a world where healthcare is becoming less and less accessible. Research clearly shows the link between health outcomes and social, economic, and environmental factors. How are you making healthcare accessible in your community? How are you incorporating an understanding of the social determinants of health into your practice? And, how can we take care of ourselves as youth workers in the midst of compassion fatigue and vicarious trauma?

 

Successful proposals will:

  • Fit within a 75, 90, or 120 minute time slot
  • Challenge us to think about prevention in a new way
  • Draw connections between fields and sectors to create innovation solutions
  • Feature youth voices when possible
  • Bring equity to the forefront

Support Community Schools through Give Local

TOGETHER! is thrilled to announce our participation in the Community Foundation of South Puget Sound's Give Local campaign! 

Give Local is an opportunity for the community to support the rural expansion of TOGETHER!'s Community Schools initiative, and with Give Local, your support goes even further thanks to a generous matching grant by the Dawkins Charitable Trust.

To view and support TOGETHER!'s campaign, visit our campaign page. You can support us by donating, liking, sharing the campaign, commenting on our social media posts, and telling your friends! If you wish to share the campaign with your networks, you can sign up as a Champion under the "Champions" tab. Learn more about what you can do as a Champion by reading this Champion Guide.

All proceeds from the campaign will support the expansion of Community Schools programming in Yelm and Rochester through Yelm Community Schools and Right From the Start. You can help make sure that all kids in Thurston County have the same opportunity to succeed in school and in life! Thank you for your support.


Be a Mentor with Pathmakers!

Are you looking for an opportunity make a significant difference in the life of a child? Pathmakers is a brand new school-based mentoring program managed by TOGETHER!, and is currently recruiting volunteers to serve students in Tumwater! Volunteers will meet with their mentees twice a week during lunchtime to talk, play games, do crafts, and build social-emotional skills to support the students’ transition into middle school.

The transition from elementary to middle school is a crucial time in k-12 education when many students without adequate support can start feeling less engaged in school. Decreased attendance and increased disciplinary interventions around this time have a long-term impact on graduation and post-secondary success rates. Pathmakers volunteers will work with their students across their 5th and 6th grade years, being a supportive, familiar face at a time when everything is changing around them.

We are looking for volunteers ages 18 & up who are able to make a commitment to working with their mentee for two academic years, including a short summer session. If you are interested in being a mentor, please fill out this application and return to Cynthia Spencer at cspencer@thurstontogether.org.  


Celebrate TOGETHER! on #GivingTuesday

This holiday season, let’s Celebrate TOGETHER! All year round, we offer programs and services that enrich our community by caring for some of our most vulnerable members: our children. TOGETHER! works across sectors to advance the health and well-being of all young people through impactful youth development, health promotion, community engagement, and family support programs. But you already know that – if you’re reading this, that means you’ve made it to our website, probably through our newsletter or social media accounts, meaning you’re already a supporter of our organization, either as a donor, a volunteer, or just a friendly community member. Thank you for coming this far with us.

No one is quite sure what the future holds. 2018 bears the promise of new projects and partnerships that will serve our community in ways sorely needed, but also new challenges, some of which we can’t foresee. All we know is that we want to be there to support those youth and families who need us, the ones we already know and the ones who are yet beyond our reach. We want to be there for our community and help that community grow, no matter what happens.

With every backpack we give to a child before their first day of school, with every connection made between a student and a staff member they can trust, with every day that kids have somewhere safe, fun, and supportive to go after school, our community becomes a little bit stronger, a little richer, and a little more equitable. Every student should have an equal chance to succeed in school and in life. Our work is to make sure they do.

During this season of giving, you have the chance to be a part of that work. It all starts on #GivingTuesday, the day when we take a break from the shopping frenzy of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and give something back. We hope that you will consider TOGETHER! on this day, and help us reach our goal of raising $5,000 to kick off our year-end campaign!

CS Lewis wrote, “You’re never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” Click here to help us dream the dream of a world where all young people are supported, healthy, safe and valued.


Back to Basics Serves Over 350 with Sports Physicals & Immunizations

Tumwater School District and TOGETHER! have been working together for three years to bring necessary in-school support to the students of Tumwater and beyond. One of our most powerful and popular programs is the annual Back to Basics event series, where volunteers from the medical community come together to provide back-to-school care to students at no cost.

Our first Back to Basics event took place on August 1st at Tumwater High School. An incredible team of volunteers from Tumwater Family Practice, Providence Tumwater Valley Physical Therapy, Olympia Orthopaedic Associates, Providence Sports Medicine, St. Peter Family Medicine, Tumwater Vision Health, and Tumwater School District’s own Health & Wellness Department provided free sports physicals to over 250 middle and high school students. Participation in after-school sports is shown to increase school engagement and pro-social behavior in students, but lack of medical access is a common barrier that prevents students from accessing these benefits. At Back to Basics Sports Physicals Clinic, we not only provide sports physicals for free, but also work to connect families with insurance coverage and primary care physicians, so that the rest of their healthcare needs can be met into the future.

The second and final event was the Back to Basics Immunizations Clinic on August 22nd at Peter G. Schmidt Elementary School. Immunizations were administered by Thurston County Medical Reserve Corps and community partners Hands On Children’s Museum, South Sound Reading Foundation, Tumwater Youth Programs, CHOICE Regional Health Network, Tumwater School District, South Sound YMCA, Head Start, and Tumwater Timberland Library tabled outside the clinic with information and resources. In all, the clinic served 88 families and 105 students. Among those 105, 132 vaccinations were given to 65 students who needed additional immunization to meet school requirements.

Financial support for Back to Basics 2017 was provided by Kaiser Permanente, City of Tumwater, and Tumwater Walmart.


Community Schools Program Expands to Yelm

Since the fall of 2014, TOGETHER! has been building networks of support for students in the Tumwater community thanks to a strong partnership with Tumwater School District. This summer, another district has stepped up to join us in the work of supporting the whole children, teens, and families who make up our school communities. Congratulations, Yelm Community Schools, for partnering with us to providing comprehensive services to your students and their families.

Yelm Community Schools is one of the fastest growing districts in the state, and they recognize the value of community partnerships in ensuring their students get the supports they need all the way from pre-kindergarten through high school graduation. To start, TOGETHER! will place a full-time staff member in Yelm’s two middle schools: Yelm Middle School and Ridgeline Middle School. With the support of an AmeriCorps VISTA, they will begin to build the bridges between school and community resources that eventually turn into a comprehensive system of support, a safety net that can catch our most vulnerable students when they need us the most.

Thank you, Yelm Community Schools, for making this commitment to your students, and welcome to TOGETHER!’s powerful network of partners!


IDEA Group Works to Address Systems of Oppression in TOGETHER!

With the adoption of TOGETHER!’s core values of equity, community mobilization, and systems change, we launched an exciting new branch of our work that concerns addressing the systems of oppression that impact our agency, our program participants, and our world. Through a partnership with the YWCA of Olympia’s Intercultural Foundations program, we have begun assessing and working to improve our intercultural competency through trainings and other educational opportunities for our staff. To guide this work, we formed the IDEA Group, to nurture and lead TOGETHER! to examine and address systems of oppression both inside and outside of TOGETHER! This work is essential to equitably advance the health, wellbeing, and success of all young people.

In the last year, IDEA Group has coordinated several film screenings, lunchtime discussions, and special projects within our staff. Moving into the future, we hope to deepen and expand this work by making necessary changes to policy and program where we find that we have not been adequately addressing the systems of oppression that impact our organization and the families we serve. To learn more about the history and mission of IDEA Group, what we mean by “systems of oppression,” and why this work is crucial to our mission, please visit the IDEA page here.