Dear Friends,

Looking Ahead to School Year 2021-22

The past 15 months have been very hard on kids. This year our professional mental health referrals increased by 500% and our CPS reports nearly tripled. Avista Foundation has committed 3 years of funding to help us with the emergent behavioral health needs of our students. We are looking for more partners that understand this dire need of support.

Like so many other non-profits we had to focus a great deal of energy on addressing basic needs when students were out of school. Our staff did host online events to keep students engaged and we were successful in creating tutoring opportunities after partnering with Priority Spokane, Gonzaga, EWU, and WSU. During that time we also distributed more than $2 million of food that came primarily from 2nd Harvest.
Next year we are going to advocate for more behavioral and physical health services for children in Spokane County. We are working to find ways to direct more funding to existing providers so that they can expand services. We are asking the question, “who decides how much money goes to children, when the funding pie is being cut?” Such information has historically been a secret in Washington and now would be a good time to let that cat out of the bag.
Many more children are eligible for Medicaid and next year we want them to receive preventive services. How would we do that? We want to bring the providers to schools, the way we worked with ToothSavers to put sealants on children’s teeth in schools. The model is straightforward. Find nurse practitioners or physicians assistants to go to schools to do the required Medicaid well child visit. Medicaid can be billed and if a child is found to have an issue, a proper referral can be made. Many children have not seen a provider for the entire period of the pandemic and the State of Washington has no intention of making sure that happens.
This school year, one of our site coordinators was working with a child who had been relegated to the “behavior room.” She noticed that he didn’t seem to be hearing very well. He was tested and found to have a 75% hearing loss. A routine screening would have found that fact out and prevented him from being labeled a “behavior” kid. Medicaid wants somewhere around 95% of eligible children screened. In 2019, 72% of Medicaid covered children in Washington were screened. Idaho, during the same period screened 92% of their kids. Even Mississippi did better than Washington at 77%. We need to address Washington’s children’s needs in the post pandemic era if we ever want America to recover fully.

Chuck Teegarden
Executive Director
LGBTQ+ Pride Month
Starting with the Stonewall Uprising in June 1969, Pride Month both commemorates and celebrates LGBTQ activism and culture through the years

Updated June 01, 2021 03:45 PM

Pride Month is an entire month dedicated to the uplifting of LGBTQ voices, celebration of LGBTQ culture and the support of LGBTQ rights. Throughout the month of June, nationwide, there have traditionally been parades, protests, drag performances, live theater and memorials and celebrations of life for members of the community who lost their lives to HIV/AIDS. It is part political activism, part celebration of all the LGBTQ community has achieved over the years.

You probably knew that the rainbow flag — created by artist Gilbert Baker in 1978 — is used as a symbol of LGBTQ pride, but did you know that each color on the flag has its own meaning? In the widely known six-color flag, red is symbolic of life, orange is symbolic of spirit, yellow is sunshine, green is nature, blue represents harmony and purple is spirit. In the original eight-color flag, hot pink was included to represent sex and turquoise to represent magic/art.

There have been many variations on the flag. In 2021, the flag has was altered in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter protests, including black to represent diversity, brown to represent inclusivity and light blue and pink, the colors of the trans pride flag.
We celebrate in June to coincide with the catalyst of the Gay Liberation Movement that was the Stonewall Uprising. In the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, police raided a popular gay bar in N.Y.C.'s West Village, The Stonewall Inn. This was commonplace for the time, but on this particular evening, the patrons of the bar fought back, starting the Stonewall Riots, which went on for days.

The Stonewall Inn was declared a historic landmark by the city of New York in 2015 and later named a national monument by President Barack Obama in 2016.
This June is the 51st anniversary of the first Pride parade, which happened in 1970, one year after the uprising.

Marsha P. Johnson is often credited with throwing the first punch at the Stonewall Inn (though there are many prominent figures who are also rumored to have done so). She was a Black trans woman celebrating her 25th birthday at the time of the riots and a tour de force in the gay community. She passed away in 1992 at just 46 years old after police found her body in the Hudson River — her death was initially ruled a suicide, despite friends and loved ones insisting that could not be the case.

Sylvia Rivera was an activist and self-professed drag queen who also played a part in the Stonewall Riots. She fought for transgender rights alongside Marsha P. Johnson, creating S.T.A.R. (Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries) to help house homeless LGBTQ youth. She advocated for transgender rights until her passing in 2002.

Stormé DeLarverie was a gay rights activist and drag performer who was also at Stonewall when it was raided that night. Her friend, Lisa Cannistraci, told the New York Times upon her death in 2014, “Nobody knows who threw the first punch, but it’s rumored that she did, and she said she did. She told me she did.”
The CIS Commitment to Children
Many students that we serve face challenges inside and outside the classroom. The pandemic has exacerbated issues such as domestic and child abuse, mental health issues, food insecurities and a homelessness.

Communities In Schools remain committed to providing resources to children and their families, we coordinate a comprehensive range of services to support all the needs of these students both academic and non-academic.
We wanted to share a couple of our Site Coordinators experiences that highlight the work they do.
April was a particularly busy month regarding mental health referrals and collaborating with our District Mental Wellness Team. Sometimes, the check-ins that I have with students lead to deeper conversations regarding mental health and the need to access services. For example, I email back and forth with a student who has not been attending in-person classes this school year. On a number of occasions, he emailed me, expressing feelings of hopelessness, sadness, and the inability to identify and experience his emotions. Immediately following each of these emails, I contacted our mental health team and relayed the information to his therapist. I deferred to them since I am not trained in treating patients for mental health, and they were able to give me advice as to what to say in my response to the student.”

“Emily still struggles with grades and doesn’t always come to school she also is a child of so much trauma. Her mother’s boyfriend was arrested for domestic violence, their father for the same thing. They don’t have a lot of good or safety in their life and trauma has become normalized. When I first met Emily, she would hiss and shrivel up like she disliked people, she never wanted to eat at lunch and was always angry or shut down. However, now that her mother’s boyfriend is in jail and Emily has been coming to lunch bunch, which tends to be the kids safe place. She is eating at lunch, speaks to me and asks about our club, finds me to greet me and even gave me hug. On the social emotional side Emily has changed so much in such a positive way and it is good to know that she looks forward to something at school.”
Community Partners
In recognition of the importance of addressing trauma in students, Avista Foundation has given Communities In Schools of Spokane County a grant of $60,000. This grant money will enable Communities In Schools to hire an employee with a MSW (master’s in social work).

There are not enough mental health/behavioral specialists in this region to meet the overwhelming needs of our youth. Avista Foundation has given Communities In Schools of Spokane County the means to make a huge impact on our children’s mental health and well-being. 

Thank you, Avista Foundation!
PrimeTime Mentoring & Tutoring

This month we would like to spotlight one of our PrimeTime Mentors. Peggy does a phenomenal job with her mentees.

 What made you decide to become a mentor? There was an article in the Spokesman Review on March 26, 2018 titled, “Raising Resilience.” It talked about PrimeTime Mentoring and how it helped children bounce back when bad things happen and how they find their stronger side. I knew this was my calling.

How has your mentee influenced you? I have two mentees. Both drive me to be with them once a week and I love listening to them talk about school, friends, etc. They also love to play games, which I am bad at. They love beating me and it makes us laugh.

How and where do you find inspiration? I am inspired to work with children who have always had it tough. So many kids are experiencing the loss of one or both parents or who live in dysfunctional families. My prayer is that God will guide me to make a difference in kids’ lives.

Did you have a mentor? Yes, my foster mom and dad. If so how did they influence you? They taught me to have goals, to work honestly and to listen.

What are your goals in a mentoring relationship? To continue mentoring and letting my kiddos know I’ll be there for them each week. I usually start out each session by saying, “Hi! How are you today?” And then I just listen. They take off on what they’re doing in school, etc. They know our one-on-one time is set aside for someone to just listen to them.

What are your most memorable and/or rewarding experiences mentoring? Using 5 Radical Minutes, I asked the question, “Who do you like to be with the most?” Her answer was, “You!” So, I guess that means I’m doing something right:)

What would be your advice to those who are apprehensive in mentoring? Jump in with both feet! These kids need someone they can count on once a week to listen to them, play a game with them, do an activity or just be there to give them the attention they need. It just makes you feel so good inside to know you have helped them.

What was your favorite activity that you did with your mentee this year (Being remote we had to get extra creative 😊) This was the hardest year ever! By posing a fun question and laughing was a great activity. Sometimes I could tell they were having a bad day and I’d ask, “How many toes does a pig have?” (None. They have hooves.) We’d laugh, and it took their minds off their troubles. Laughter is good medicine. I’m looking forward to meeting in person again.
The Historical Legacy of Juneteenth
National Museum of African American History & Culture

On “Freedom’s Eve,” or the eve of January 1, 1863, the first Watch Night services took place. On that night, enslaved and free African Americans gathered in churches and private homes all across the country awaiting news that the Emancipation Proclamation had taken effect.

At the stroke of midnight, prayers were answered as all enslaved people in Confederate States were declared legally free. Union soldiers, many of whom were black, marched onto plantations and across cities in the south reading small copies of the Emancipation Proclamation spreading the news of freedom in Confederate States. Only through the Thirteenth Amendment did emancipation end slavery throughout the United States.

But not everyone in Confederate territory would immediately be free. Even though the Emancipation Proclamation was made effective in 1863, it could not be implemented in places still under Confederate control. As a result, in the westernmost Confederate state of Texas, enslaved people would not be free until much later. Freedom finally came on June 19, 1865, when some 2,000 Union troops arrived in Galveston Bay, Texas. The army announced that the more than 250,000 enslaved black people in the state, were free by executive decree. This day came to be known as "Juneteenth," by the newly freed people in Texas. 
The post-emancipation period known as Reconstruction (1865-1877) marked an era of great hope, uncertainty, and struggle for the nation as a whole. Formerly enslaved people immediately sought to reunify families, establish schools, run for political office, push radical legislation and even sue slaveholders for compensation. Given the 200+ years of enslavement, such changes 
Juneteenth day celebration in Texas, 1900. 
Austin History Center.
Juneteenth celebration in 1900 at Eastwoods Park. Credit: Austin History Center.

Northern Quest Paddler Classic Golf Tournament

Service to the community couldn’t be easier and more enjoyable than spending a day on the beautiful Kalispel Golf and Country Club.

If you like to serve, this is a real treat! We need a lot of volunteers to pull this amazing golf tournament off, sign up today! 

Date: Tuesday July 13th, 2021

Time: 11:00am - 6:00pm

Location: Kalispel Golf & Country Club
2010 W Waikiki Rd
Spokane, WA 99218

Meet and Greet

Kevin Partridge
Site Coordinator
Westwood Middle School

Getting to know Kevin

 If you could learn to do anything, what would it be? I would build a lake house in the middle of nowhere.
 If you could meet anyone, living or dead, who would you meet? Paul Mcartney

What three traits define you? I’m tenacious, ambitious and always smiling.
What advice do you have for kids who are struggling in school? Be happy at home first and everything else will follow.
 What would you most like to tell yourself at age 13? “Don’t burn the living room carpet in your Aunt and Uncles living room next year”.
 If you could witness any event past, present or future, what would it be? I would go back to May 25th 1977 and see Star Wars on opening day (Again).
What do you enjoy most about working with students? The moment you see you’re making a difference in their lives.
What is one thing you’ve learned about yourself from working with students? I’ve learned that every generation of students come with their own wonderful challenges.

Why do you advocate for children? If I advocate for a student, often times I am the only one who is doing so. Parents are absent in one form or another in many cases. The students and parents appreciate someone at the school who can talk to their child, provide medical outlets or mental health referrals. Once that trust starts, you have a better chance of being listened to about grades, attendance or behavior. I advocate for children because I feel it’s the most noble cause in the world. 

Meet Otis Simmons CISSC Newest Board Member

Otis Simmons grew up in Georgia and has been married for 24 years to his wife Latonya (also from GA), who is a principal for Spokane Schools.

They have two adult children, both in college. Otis spent 8 years serving his country in the US Navy.

He then joined ADT Security, where he has spent the last 20 plus years with over half of them serving as an Operations Manager.

Otis is also a recent graduate from Whitworth University in which he received his master’s in business administration with an executive leadership concentration.

Otis Simmons also serves as executive pastor at a local church in the community. He is a joy to be around and if you are lucky, you may get to experience some of his fantastic cooking skills. 
Upcoming Events

Tools 2 Schools
Coming In August of 2021

For further information email Debra Raub/Development Director at
New Event Coming Soon!
Champagne & Croquet
September 2021

For further information email Debra Raub/Development Director at
Volunteer Opportunities

We are looking for volunteers!

We are in need of support from community members like you. Please see the volunteer opportunities listed below. Please contact our Volunteer Director, Kelley Hinrichs for more information.

PrimeTime Mentoring - Serve as a Virtual Mentor through our PrimeTime Mentoring Program. Do you have 30 minutes once a week? We have students waiting to be matched with you.

PrimeTime Tutor -  Serve as a Virtual Tutor for students needing educational support. Weekly sessions are 45 minutes in length. We will work to match you with your preferred student age/school subject. 

Click on the link below to sign up for PrimeTime Mentoring or PrimeTime Tutoring !