Monthly Archives: February 2010

Harlem Children’s Zone’s Geoffrey Canada Visits Seattle to Inspire

Geoffrey Canada, founder of Harlem Children’s Zone (HCZ) in New York City, is taking the nation by storm. His simple and straightforward message is that he will do “whatever it takes” to serve his community’s children and families. On February 9th, 2010, Mr. Canada came to the University of Washington to instill hope and motivate others to replicate his efforts. It is not hard to see success in similar programs in Seattle—FamilyWorks, for example, offers community programs that nurture, empower, and strengthen individuals and families from birth to adulthood.

Support at HCZ starts at birth, with parenting classes offered for expectant parents and those with children up to three years of age. It continues into preschool, where students are adequately prepared to enter kindergarten by participating in a program that teaches English, Spanish and French.

HCZ runs two charter schools for elementary school students: Promise Academy I and II. “Since their creation in 2004 and 2005, Promise Academy I and II elementary schools have done well enough to lead Harvard economist Roland Fryer to conclude that the students had actually closed the black-white achievement gap. The schools have a longer school day and year, and feature wide-ranging, enriching after-school programs. In 2009, the third-graders from both schools were 100 percent on or above grade level in the state-wide math program. At PA1 the third-graders were 94 percent on or above grade level in English Language Arts, while the third-graders at PAII were at 86 percent.” Students who do not attend these charter schools can still take part in Peacemakers, a program run by HCZ that “trains young people who are committed to making their neighborhoods safe for children and families.”

Of course, it doesn’t stop there: HCZ offers programs for middle and high school students that educate, coach, and nurture. This project pushes students to achieve by giving them the skills they need to succeed. They offer job training and community involvement, college prep and arts coaching. “197 students were accepted into college for the 2009-2010 year, representing 90% of HCZ high-school seniors.”

If you want to be truly inspired, check out the HCZ website for more information on what an impact this project has on families and children of NYC. Then, get involved! Be a part of this great movement—one that believes in the future and is committed to providing the best for children in its community here and now.

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Having Faith in the Community: St. Andrew’s Commitment to Giving

This December brought an overwhelming surge of generosity to the FamilyWorks Resource Center and Food Bank. Individuals and groups contributed by bringing in clothing, toys, and diapers to the resource center, buying children’s presents for our gift program, and donating thousands of pounds of food to the food bank. It is a telling statement that even in trying economic times, the community will unite to fulfill the needs of its neighbors. We thank everyone for their generosity.

Over thirty groups contributed their time and energy in December, mostly by hosting food and hygiene drives. These groups included churches, businesses, small organizations, and Girl Scout Troops. Some of these groups were hosting drives for the first time while others were veteran hosts, long-time supporters and contributors to FamilyWorks. One especially committed group is St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church. They have been involved with the FamilyWorks Food Bank for over 20 years—back when it was known as the Fremont Food Bank.

This past year, St. Andrew’s had a goal to donate 2009 pounds of food to the FamilyWorks Food Bank over the course of the year. This averages out to about 170 pounds a month, which is quite the contribution for a congregation of around 300 families! They surpassed their goal of 2009 pounds,  but not without hard work and dedication. Reverend Peter Strimer, who supports the outreach programs including the food drives, is an incredible motivator. He, along with Carol Marshall, a dedicated volunteer,  help to get the congregation involved and enthusiastic about donating items to FamilyWorks. Carol works on The Log, St. Andrew’s newsletter, and includes each week’s weight in donated food. This constant reminder helps keep people involved and interested. According to Carol, there is also already a spirit of giving rooted deeply in the congregation.

St. Andrew’s is a prophetic church. They believe in proclaiming God’s love for all people and working for justice in the world, especially for “the poor, the marginalized, and the outcast.” Their outreach ministries supply food and community to those in need. “People are hungry in a variety of ways,” says Ruby, St. Andrew’s ministry coordinator who supports the volunteer ministries. St. Andrew’s works to fill that hunger in diverse ways–through spiritual, nutritional, and community outpourings. In addition to hosting monthly food drives for FamilyWorks, they also host a Jubilee Dinner and collaborate with other churches to supply a monthly dinner to homeless teenagers called Teen Feed. The Jubilee Dinner, which runs the last Sunday of every month at 2pm, is a 30-year old program that combines food and conversation. At this meal, the participants are served by volunteers and offered hand massages and gifts at Christmas. Everyone benefits from these outreach ministries.

An integral part of the Jubilee Dinner is conversation, and hearing people’s stories. “People come to the Jubilee Dinner to be fed, but we were fed by them,” Ruby said metaphorically about hearing several participants’ stories. These stories inspire others to contribute, to donate, and to lend an ear to someone in need of conversation. St. Andrew’s continues to be a source of inspiration for all of us in the community. “The ministry of all of us is outside of the church,” Ruby states. Carol agrees, adding that churches who want to get involved need only to “Get off of that ‘comfortable pew!’”

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Filed under FamilyWorks News, FamilyWorks Staff & Volunteers, FamilyWorks' Community, Food Bank, Fundraisers, Hunger & Food Security