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.


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.  


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!


Community Schools Breaks Barriers to Bring Resources to Students
Community Schools Breaks Barriers to Bring Resources to Students

A Community School is more than just a building where kids go to learn history and algebra. It’s a place, a partnership, and a state of mind – all at the same time. Community Schools are sites for all kinds of learning and growth: academic, social, emotional and relational. Students at Community Schools learn that they belong in school, where there is a community that cares for them. Their families learn that their participation and engagement in their child’s education is invaluable, and that their school will go the extra mile to get it. Staff at Community Schools learn that they don’t have to work in isolation, but can reach out to community organizations to help them help their students.

So how does it work? It starts with a partnership between a school district and a nonprofit who agree to work together to serve the needs of the students beyond academics, needs ranging from food and clothing to counseling and recovery services to healthcare and transportation. The nonprofit, or lead agency, then reaches out to other community organizations to build partnerships that make a wide array of resources and services as accessible as possible to students in schools. The idea is to weave networks of support that already exist in the community into the life of the school, so that students and families can spend less time worrying about how they’re going to access the services they need to survive and thrive, and more time thinking about their schoolwork.

In 2014, TOGETHER! partnered with Tumwater School District on just such an initiative and now, in our third year, Community Schools has grown to a vital piece of Tumwater’s student support program and, in the 2016-2017 school year, expanded into three high-need elementary schools for the first time. Listed below are just a few of the exciting programs we have developed to serve our students:

  • Partnership with Sea Mar Behavioral Health Services to provide in-school counseling to middle and high school students
  • Resource centers in seven buildings including food, clothing and hygiene items accessible to any student with referral from the counselor or Community Schools Manager. Sponsored by Tumwater Rotary, Tumwater Parent Organization, Black Hills High School Interact Club, and others.
  • Calming breath and movement practice currently being piloted with a small group of elementary school students at Michael T. Simmons Elementary, developed in partnership with Sea Mar Preventative Health.
  • Establishment of Student Success Funds to support incidental student needs that surpass the capacity of our resource centers, i.e. transportation passes and gas cards, activity fees, IDs needed for employment, certain healthcare costs and special clothing or supplies.
  • Back to Basics healthcare access event series: free sports physicals and immunization clinics every August, in partnership with Providence and Thurston County Public Health.
  • Community Engagement Nights and Family Fun Days with food, activities and community resources for kids and families.

If you or your organization are interested in partnering with us, let us know! We are always looking for volunteers to help us fundraise, plan events and keep our resource centers stocked! Here’s who to call:

Arianne Sandel, Michael T. Simmons Elementary, Peter G. Schmidt Elementary, and Black Lake Elementary Community Schools Manager, arianne.sandel@tumwater.k12.wa.us, 360-972-0319
 
Jennifer Gould, Tumwater Middle School and Black Hills High School Community Schools Manager, Jennifer.gould@tumwater.k12.wa.us, 360-999-0546
 
Lindsey Bates, Bush Middle School and Tumwater High School Community Schools Manager, lindsey.bates@tumwater.k12.wa.us, 360-742-7083
 
Cynthia Spencer, AmeriCorps VISTA for Community Schools, cspencer@thurstontogether.org, 360-972-4519