It's Fall in The ZONE at NECC

November 2023

Letter From The Director


I have a sticky note at my desk that says:

Ask & Listen don’t Fix & Tell.  


It reminds me it’s not about giving advice or problem solving for others. Instead by being curious, asking questions and centering people instead of issues, I can support our students and families as they create their own solutions.  


Our Resident Steering Committee met in August to do strategic planning for this coming year. Affordable housing for larger families (3 and 4 bed units), employment supports to afford increased household costs, and safe engaging after school activities for youth were the priorities they are focusing on this year. Sub-committees were formed by topic and are working alongside our ZONE staff as we advocate and develop programs to meet the needs of our children, youth, and families.  


Our Resident Steering Committee continues to inform systems. In October, the Federal Reserve met to consider raising interest rates to fight inflation. Our Northeast Spokane families were asked now that pandemic income supports are gone, how does this impact your employment decisions? What is impacting maximum employment for your household? We answered. Affordable childcare evenings and weekends is the barrier to working more hours. The amount of job openings doesn’t necessarily indicate people can work if they want to. Can they work and keep their children safe? We were told our input was ‘perfect’.  


Our Housing Stability program has its first households enrolled with ZONE Case Managers, Amanda and Lavonnie. We are working with the Northeast Public Development Authority on affordable housing for families in Northeast Spokane as well as increased non-traditional childcare for swing shifts and weekends. We are supporting a new cohort of community-based youth serving organizations as well as our staff embedded in schools thanks to generous funding partners. These programs have asked for behavioral health training for staff, and tools to serve the social and emotional needs of our youth more deeply. 


Our Behavioral Health Clinic opened 10/4/23 and is a wonderful new partner on our campus fulfilling the resident need and goal of increased mental health access in Northeast Spokane. You can reach them at 509.530.4230.

I recently spent time in a 5th grade classroom at Lidgerwood Elementary. I saw engaged innovative learners ready to connect and create solutions for our community’s biggest challenges. Our future is in good hands.  

It’s our work to create systems of support so that our students and families thrive in The ZONE. We all belong. Regardless of how we show up, together we can hold space for the humanity in each of us. We can suspend judgement. We can assume there is a story. We can lean into Ask & Listen (What are you feeling? What do you need?), and away from Fix & Tell (Take Over & Do). Try it. It humbles you and you learn so much.  

Check out our refreshed website to explore more.

I’ll send another letter in January. If you’d like to connect before then please do! 


Jene Ray

[email protected]

Donate Here

Please Support

Our 3rd Annual

Boot & Shoe Drive

In the spirit of Giving Tuesday we ask for a donation of any amount to our Boot & Shoe Drive. This annual drive allows us to give winter boots to local kids so that they can arrive to school with dry feet. We also use the fund to buy athletic shoes for kids who would like to play sports, but can't afford the right shoes. Thank you!

Welcome Lavonnie!

Lavonnie Mcmanus is Our New Housing Diversion Case Manager

Lavonnie Mcmanus is from Kalispell, Montana and moved here in 2018. She has a BA in Psychology and an AA in social work. Lavonnie has been an agency affiliated peer counselor since May 2020. Lavonnie’s experience includes four years as the Associate Director for the Samaritan House Homeless Shelter, as well as running their homeless veterans’ program. She has worked for The Violence Free Crisis Line and Abbey Shelter as a Case Manager and Advocate. Program Manager for Revive Counseling. Lavonnie is the co-owner of Revive Reentry Services, a transitional housing program here in Spokane. When Lavonnie is not working, she loves to ride her motorcycle, bead, crotchet, and spend time with her two sons.

Welcome Ashley!

Ashley Painter is our new Wolff Fellow from Gonzaga University

Ashley is from Spokane and is a second-year student at Gonzaga University. She is pursuing a degree in Business Administration with concentrations in Management Information Systems and Entrepreneurship with a minor in Digital Marketing, and plans to include Sociology in her studies. At Gonzaga, she serves as a Peer Mentor, offering guidance and support to first-year students. In her free time, Ashley expresses her creativity through digital design and crafts. Ashley is excited to be part of The ZONE this year.

Farmer's Market Wrap-Up

Thank you to everyone who came and tabled at our five Community Resource Fairs during the Hillyard Farmer's Market this year. Together we served over 3,000 people! We offered free food, balloon animals, face painting, over 350 backpacks & school supplies, clothes, canned food, as well as all of your wonderful resources. We are looking forward to more of these events in 2024, and hope that you will join us again.

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