It's been a year since COVID shut the world down and we never stopped, we won’t stop! Communities In Schools of Spokane County watched in dismay as schools closed last March. We knew how this would affect students and families. However, we also knew that we had to rethink our work and continue providing services to our students and their families while observing the CDC guidelines.
The first thing we needed were masks, and when we couldn’t find them in stores we found a woman in Spokane Valley that was willing to make them for us. I was using one that I made from a shop towel and duct tape.
Next, we needed food, 2nd Harvest had food to give out to the community but no people to distribute it. We had people and distributed food weekly to 600-800 families a week at 3 different sites in Spokane County, Shadle High School, Sunset Elementary and North Central High School, for an entire year. The Zone Project had contacts in the food industry to get large quantities of food but no storage. We were able to use our site at Shaw Middle School to store food for all of our 14 sites.
We did hundreds of home visits to check in on our students, bringing them food, hygiene and cleaning supplies and helping them with technology when school started online. We created virtual meeting spaces where students could chat and play games together. We worked with Priority Spokane and created online tutoring for kids to help them with their homework.
We worked with Toothsavers to get them back into schools to keep providing sealants on kids teeth. We purchased hygiene and cleaning supplies with funds given to us from Innovia and other donors that trusted us to get these needed items out into the community because they knew we would do it. We shifted our annual Tools2Schools school supply drive and used the monies raised to buy noise cancelling headphones, earbuds, books and other items to help kids while learning remotely.
We spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to provide our students that live in low income neighborhoods with equitable access to the internet. We are close to getting a wireless internet pilot program launched in Medical Lake through Lokket.
On top of all of that Providence gave us money to provide our staff with trauma informed training to meet the growing mental health needs of our students when they returned to school. We received a grant from Morning Star Foundation to provide our staff with Motivational Interviewing Training which is a communication technique to help our students align their behaviors with their values.
Our supporters supported us, we worked our staff hard throughout the shutdown. Some of them got the 'VID and are fully recovered. We never stopped and we won’t stop, thanks to our Board, our partners and everyone who said “keep going”. The lesson, #Allinforkids means something to us and going forward, we will work to make children a priority in Spokane County.