For the fourth installment in our April storytelling series Leah, a former FamilyWorks intern, talks about what makes FamilyWorks so special to her. During the summer of 2014 Leah led our Parent/Child Playgroups as well our Reading Rocks program. One of the things that made her experience at FamilyWorks so special was the “reciprocal learning” she experienced. As much as Leah was in a teaching role she felt she learned as much or more from the children and adults she was working with.
Happy Volunteer Appreciation Week!
To celebrate Volunteer Appreciation Week, and also continue our April storytelling series, today’s post features Clare and Carson, two of FamilyWorks amazing volunteers.
Did you know that in 2014 426 volunteers contributed over 8,500 hours of service to help us do the work of nourishing, connecting and empowering our most vulnerable neighbors? FamilyWorks is very fortunate to have such caring, thoughtful and dedicated volunteers without whom we would simply not be able to fulfill our mission. You can find out more about our volunteer program here.
On today’s video Clare and Carson share with us why they enjoy volunteering with FamilyWorks and what they feel FamilyWorks means to our community.
GiveBIG is coming . . .
Continuing our April storytelling series today’s video features Molly Moon Neitzel. Molly is of course the founder of Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream but she is also the founder of the Anna Banana Milk Fund; a fund that honors the memory of her late sister by providing fresh milk for each of our FamilyWorks’ Food Bank participants. You can find out more about the Anna Banana Milk Fund here.
In her video Molly shares what she thinks makes FamilyWorks so special and vital for the community we serve.
Today’s blog post kicks off an 8-part, month-long series on storytelling, in which members of our community answer the question, “What Does FamilyWorks Mean To Me?”
The FamilyWorks community is unique and made up of program participants, volunteers, donors, community partners, board members and staff.
Every member of the FamilyWorks community possesses a story of why FamilyWorks is important to them. For some, FamilyWorks has been a refuge during a difficult season in life. For others, FamilyWorks is the place where they can give of their time and resources, knowing it will have a positive impact on the neighborhood in which they live. And for others, FamilyWorks is simply a welcoming place where they can find the resources they need.
Each story is different and like every member of the FamilyWorks community, each story is unique.
Through the month of April we will be sharing stories from our community members here on our blog. Our hope is that these stories will paint a more complete picture of how FamilyWorks is nourishing, connecting and empowering our most vulnerable neighbors.
Our first story is from Ashley, a participant in our Teen Parent Program. The FamilyWorks Teen Parent Program promotes the positive growth of teen parents through peer support groups, parenting classes, personal advocacy, skill development and encouragement. Ashley shares with us how the program has supported her while living on her own and how it has helped her become a stronger parent.
You can find out more about the Teen Parent Program here.
By Laura Shepard, FamilyWorks Volunteer
Jake Weber, FamilyWorks Executive Director and FamilyWorks Food Bank Manager Mike Cox attended the 2015 Hunger Action Day on Monday in Olympia with members of other anti-hunger organizations to lobby legislators or their staff members to support anti-hunger programs and legislation.
There was a great lineup of advocates from the 37th legislative district who highlighted the fact that economic recovery is not translating instantly into better food security for Washington Families.
One of those speakers was a 4th grade girl representing kids all around the state who spoke on behalf of the Breakfast after the Bell bill, which would provide free breakfast to all students. She was soft spoken but confident.
“The legislators really paid attention to her- she made the point that it is hard to learn when one is hungry in school,” said Mike.
“She is a hunger advocate as we all should be,” added Jake.
Mike Cox was one of the speakers and he shared that 1 in 5 Washington Residents use food banks, and over 1/2 of participants served are either elderly or children. Mike pointed out that, alarmingly, in 2014 food bank visits actually rose with the highest growth in new participants coming from the elderly and children.
The main cause for the current upswing is no mystery – cuts in federal and state food assistance programs have made food banks more critical to more people than ever. The improving economy is cited as justification for quickly cutting federal and state food assistance programs, however it takes time for an improving economy to translate to food security for a household, and a recent upswing in unemployment has new participants applying to all forms of national, state and local food assistance options.
As major food assistance programs cut funding, food banks are stepping in to try and fill the gap. However, that gap is a big one. Food banks in Washington are struggling to meet growing demands, and this is reflected in the drop in total volume of food available to each participant on a per visit basis.
You can help!
- Donate Funds – see how your donation of cash, goods or services can make a huge difference
- Volunteer – Give your time for food drives, sorting, driving or administrative functions
- Advocate – Click here to find out how you can contact WA legislators and support legislation that helps people who are hungry
- Tell your story – Legislators need to understand the full impact of being underemployed or being homebound and the frustration of not being able to get fresh greens in months
This past Sunday, I was given an opportunity to talk about FamilyWorks to the congregation at St. Benedict’s. Deacon Roy Harrington and others in the parish have partnered with us over the last two years and are focusing on the issues of hunger in our community. I was able to thank them for their continuing support and gave them an overview of how their donations are being used and their impact maximized at FamilyWorks.
St. Benedict’s parish is exactly the kind of community partner that FamilyWorks looks for and appreciates. The parish and school have a strong sense of social justice. They have been a continual presence in our neighborhood since the church was founded by Benedictine monks in 1906. They are eager to make a difference in our community.
Thank you, St. Benedict’s. You are a leader among all those who make Wallingford a more compassionate community.
We’re starting to make plans for Reading Rocks, our annual literacy event at FamilyWorks. The event will be April 16 and features a special librarian visitor, fun literacy games and activities, and of course, lots of books! We give away books to event attendees ranging from infants to high schoolers.
You can help FamilyWorks make this event a success in the following ways:
Donate books. FamilyWorks accepts children’s books year-round, but we would love to have lots of books to give away for Reading Rocks! We’ll gladly accept new or gently used books. We would especially love children’s books in Spanish. You can drop off books Mondays 9:30-12, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays 9:30-5, and Fridays 9:30-3.
Volunteer. If you are a reading lover and excited to get to know your community, we need help between 1:30 & 5 on Thursday April 16. Volunteers will help facilitate the activities and chat with people at Reading Rocks. All activities and materials will be provided, but if you have a great idea for an easy, affordable activity that you’re excited to facilitate, let us know & we’ll try to make it work. Please click HERE to volunteer with Reading Rocks.
Attend. If you are looking for something to do during Seattle Public School’s spring break with your child, come join us 2:30-4:30 on Thursday April 16.
Thanks for helping FamilyWorks help spread the joy of reading!