December  S'More 2014                                      3 0f 4                                                                  eBlast  




Welcome to week three of YES' December S'More Campaign celebrating the "Best of YES" in 2014! 

Each Tuesday in December we are bringing you success stories from 2014, and this week we introduce you to a YES Family Camp volunteer and Verde Elementary teacher who sees the cumulative effect that high quality enrichment programming and collaboration is having on her students.  Remember that it's not too late to make a difference as we strive to reach our year-end goal this December.


Wishing you a peaceful holiday,


Eric Aaholm, Executive Director


    Volunteering for Change

For 10 years, YES has provided Family Camp weekend experiences for Central and North Richmond families. At Family Camp, families disconnect from the pressures of daily life so they can enjoy, relax and renew familial and community bonds with the support from dedicated staff and volunteers.

YES volunteers are drawn to Family Camp because they experience the immediate impact they're contributing to during the course of a weekend. One of our most recent volunteers, Merrill Pierce, saw the impact at camp and used it to motivate learning in her classroom.


Ms. Pierce volunteering during the North Richmond Fall 2014 Family Camp 

Ms. Pierce, who is in her second year of teaching at Verde Elementary in North Richmond, recalls, "Going to Family Camp for the first time was truly a magical experience. It was so powerful and fun to spend time with some of my students, and other Verde students, outside the confines of the classroom."


Ms. Pierce, second from left, with the Sandoval family, served as a volunteer during the most recent Family Camp weekend in fall 2014. 

"I have formed some of the strongest connections with students and families at camp. We bring these positive relationships back to Verde, and the effects are evident in the classroom. I can make references to camp while teaching and the students who have attended camp are automatically engaged--which inspires others to engage in learning," she states.

The first-hand personal discovery and community-building that happens during YES Family Camp weekends brings joy to families and keeps volunteers coming back. YES Family Camps are held five times a year, and we invite you to contact us if you are interested in joining our team of dedicated volunteers.


The North Richmond Network - A Model for Community Building


In 2013, responding to the growing need to improve health and education outcomes in North Richmond, YES convened a group of residents, individuals and organizations who were motivated to explore ways to effect positive, lasting change in their community. 


Working through the lens of a Collective Impact model, the North Richmond Network (NRN) began meeting monthly at Verde Elementary. Typically the poorest in terms of academic outcomes for all West Contra Costa County schools, the NRN worked alongside the principal and school partners to identify three priority issue areas including school climate, mental health and parent engagement.  


In fall 2014, Verde Elementary parents, came up with their own action plan to have a walking school bus to address the traffic congestion and safety at the school. 


As part of the parent engagement strategy with the NRN, Project LEAN and YES co-facilitated Parents in Action! workshops with Verde Elementary parents which provided advocacy skills and nutrition and physical activity education. Because of their engagement with YES and the NRN, caregivers are starting to participate and advocate for issues that affect their children at their school. They are also engaging in community-wide efforts such as the Richmond Food Policy Council and voicing their needs at School Board meetings.


Ms. Pierce, mentioned above, also got involved with the NRN because she wants to make a bigger impact in the community where she teaches.
Interview with Merrill about Family Camp and the North Richmond Network


"In my opinion, YES, as the leader of these meetings, has set the precedent in Richmond for what it means to revitalize a community. YES is the ambassador for bringing positivity, unity, health, and discovery to Richmond. I feel so grateful to be working in North Richmond alongside them."  





"It is very special for me to share YES Family Camp with my children and get to know new families. Everything they teach us makes me reflect and want to be a better person and parent for my family." -  Family Camp parent 2014



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