Wow! It has been a busy Summer and early Fall with my transition into my new role as Executive Director of Schoolhouse Supplies. (here’s the official announcement in the Portland Business Journal). Making a decision to transition away from the business and clients I love was a bittersweet one…but this was an opportunity to lead and help grow an incredible organization, and make even more of an impact on improving resources for Oregon schools. If you aren’t familiar with Schoolhouse Supplies, I hope you will get to know us!
Our mission is a simple one: Getting school supplies in the hands of teachers and students who need them. Founded by Katie Gold, a Portland Public School (PPS) mom in 1999, we operate Oregon’s only Free Store for Teachers.
We also run a great program, the Tools for Schools Backpack Giveaway Program which partners local businesses with high-need schools across Portland to provide free back-to-school backpacks filled with essential supplies they need to learn throughout the year. You can hear from some of the many teachers we have helped in our video here.
Here’s what we’ve been up to this past couple months:
In August, our Tools for Schools program partnered with local businesses and schools in our community where 65% or more of the students live at, or below, the poverty line. We distributed 14,233 backpacks during the first week of school. Wow! We also re-opened our Free Store for Teachers on September 11, thanks to supplies donated by the KGW Supply Drive. Many of you supported this program by volunteering and donating supplies and much-needed funds—thank you!
Missed out on the Supply Drive? Here are a few other ways to help in case you are interested…
1. Donate gently-used, or new, office supplies which can be recycled into PPS classrooms! You can view a list of our top supply needs here, so don’t toss that old letterhead quite yet.
2. Volunteer a few hours…or more! We have dozens of ways to volunteer with Schoolhouse Supplies, such as helping in our store, picking up donations, donating professional services, and more. We’re a very kid-friendly place to volunteer, too! Here’s a photo of my daughters helping re-stock shelves, and some recent pencil counting kiddos who visited us this week! Learn more here or contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. You can also earn shopping vouchers for local schools and non-profits by volunteering with us.
3. Connect With Us On Social Media! Like us on Facebook, Follow us on Twitter, check out our Blog. Here’s my recent interview in our team snapshot series. You can also view some videos on our YouTube channel.
4. Become a Monthly Sustainer! We rely on donations throughout the year to maintain and grow our service to local teachers, families, and schools. Consider becoming a Monthly Sustainer- starting at $5.00 per month- to help us! Learn more here.
As you might imagine, the challenge of juggling my new role- and continuing to volunteer and engage in our daughter’s school, and the broader Portland community, has made it more challenging than before to keep up with regular blog posts. I hope to have more time to blog in the coming months, and also welcome ideas for guest posts anytime! Email me anytime at email@example.com if you’re interested in sharing your voice!
Last week, I had the great honor of participating in “LEAP Into Summer”, an event held at Jimmy Mak’s benefiting LEAP Therapeutic Wilderness Adventures. LEAP is a new Portland-based non-profit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to the therapeutic nature of the outdoors. Founded in 2010, they provide wilderness experiences & mentoring opportunities that help rehabilitate, motivate, & inspire adversely affected individuals who face significant health, social, and emotional challenges.
Today we catchup with Matt Reimann, founding Board member, to learn more about the organization, and their plans for programs with partners at New Avenues For Youth, Friends of The Children. The Oregon Burn Center, and The American Cancer Society for the 2012-2013 season.
JEN: Tell us about LEAP. Where did the idea come from?
MATT: The idea was in place about four years ago as we considered the “powerful quietness” of being in the remote outdoors. We felt that the beauty of the outdoors had a calming, almost therapeutic effect on one’s outlook and allowed for a great deal of introspection.
There are many elements to navigating a river. Some parts are adrenaline-driven and require focus and concentration – like running a white water rapid – and other parts are calm floats when you can relax and think. This activity sort of releases those complex thoughts we have about issues we all face, be it personal, work-related, deadlines, relationships, etc. That “release” creates a void that we seldom experience and into that void comes an internal dialogue, lots of thought, and almost a healing experience the yields a different perspective on one’s life.
Some of us on the Board have gone through some serious life changing events and recognize that this program could be beneficial to certain groups of individuals. So, we developed a program to harness that wonderful experience and are applying it groups of individuals who have suffered similar life changing events or share similar ongoing challenges or afflictions, and to instill in the participants the knowledge that there can be a positive path forward.
JEN: Tell us more about your programs with your local non-profit partners.
MATT: This year we will be running four trips on Northwest Rivers. For our 2012-2013 season, we are partnering with four local Oregon Burn Center, New Avenues for Youth, Friends of the Children, and Camp Rainbow Gold. I think the common theme across all the groups we partner with is that these individuals have been metaphorically “knocked down,” they have been dealt a bad blow (whether sudden, or over time) and struggle to accept it, but are trying to find a way to process it.
We intend to build long term relationships with these organizations, because because our concept is to be a part of each organization’s mission and not a stand-alone program. In other words, it takes many years to heal.
JEN: What is the most rewarding, and most difficult, part of starting up a new non-profit?
MATT: Yes, it’s hard work, but rewarding. Designing and developing the program is the easiest and most rewarding part of starting the organization. It’s the administrative part that takes time and energy. Although that has it’s rewards as well; we were all very excited when we received our 501 (c)(3) tax designation late last year.
We are organizing a long trail run that follows the Rogue River next year. We’re also becoming experts on writing grant applications!
Happy Mother’s Day to all of you mamas out there! Since this blog — and so many of my advocacy efforts have been inspired by my own mom — and motivated by my desire to carve out more resources for my daughters and kids in our community — I am honoring my mom, today!
My mom, Linda Safran, lives in Buffalo, NY, where she is a Development Officer raising funds for Multiple Sclerosis research at The University of Buffalo. When she’s not helping raise funds for MS, a disease she also has, she’s the grandmother of three and my #1 champion and cheerleader for family advocacy.
Among the many things she’s done over the past year to support me in my advocacy efforts include proofing my Mom Congress application at the 11th hour, coming up with the Books Make It Better name, and having ongoing dialogues with my daughters about the power of giving back and helping others. Thank you mom!
JEN: What were some of your personal early experiences in activism and advocacy?
LINDA: When I was in grade school at the height of the McCarthy era, Milton Rogovin a neighbor and father of a classmate, appeared before the House Committee on Un-American Activities, HUAC. He was labelled “The Top Communist in Buffalo” when he was in reality, as his bio notes, “an optometrist actively registering Black voters.” It was was 1957 and I was 11.
Most of my classmates were not allowed to play with the Rogovin children because of the father’s politics. My mother, a “Nelson Rockefeller Republican” but apolitical, made sure that we did play with the Rogovin children. And, she reached out to his mother. Whatever their political differences, she felt it was unfair for children to be unkind to one another based on their parents’ differences.
Another time, the father of my sister’s friend went to jail because of illegal gambling. Again, many families shunned the daughter. My mother — who hated gambling — made sure that my sister didn’t drop the little girl as her friend.
Another early memory was a bitter cold evening before Christmas when my sister and I were downtown shopping. There was an Iroquois woman selling items on a street corner near one of the fancier department stores. My mother bought whatever she was selling and then, noticing her hands, bright red with cold, pulled off her gloves and gave them to her, because she needed them more. My mother rarely went to church but she taught by example the Golden Rule.
JEN: You were one of the early Peace Corps volunteers. Tell us about what you did, and how that experience has shaped you today.
LINDA: At age 18, I was inspired by Senator John F. Kennedy in his 1964 campaign speech at the University of Michigan to, “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.” Those 17 words changed my life. How could a girl serve her country, I wondered? Four years later I was headed to Brazil as the Peace Corps Volunteer. I was a community development volunteer and learned about the power and pitfalls of grassroots organizing to effect social change.
JEN: You were passionate about exposing us to volunteering and activism when we were young. Tell us more about some of the things we did!
LINDA: Another string of words that had a powerful impact on our family life was: “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.”
The twenty four words of the Equal Rights Amendment seemed to make such good sense in the late 1970′s, and yet they also seemed to threaten to tear our country apart.
A stay-at-home Mom at the time, I joined the National Organization for Women in its early days and chaired our local chapter’s Homemaker’s Taskforce. How naive we were to think we could pass this amendment to the constitution. I learned the rallying power of slogans: “My Mom marched for the ERA” and “The Hand that Rocks the Cradle Should Rock the Boat,” and “A woman’s place is in the house…and in the Senate!” I became dissilusioned with many of the divisive tactics that occurred, but its mission of equal rights and pay equity were and are valid today. Maybe one day American women will have the protection of this amendment.
JEN: You were also pretty forward-thinking when it came to our education. I’m a proud Montessori student and mom today. What do you remember about that experience in those years?
In a childhood psychology course, I learned about the lasting effect of what children learn in early years. I was fascinated that a case could be made for applying science to child rearing. I read with great interest Selma Fraiberg’s The Magic Years and Maria Montessori’s educational theories that grew from her work with the Children’s House in Italy. I knew that if I had children, I wanted to send them to a Montessori School.
In addition to the early educational experience for children, as a young parent, it was good to be involved in a community of parents so intentional on the importance of a particular educational philosophy. We were a young family far away from our hometown. Looking back, the Montessori community and later, other school communities, were important social institutions that formed the “village” in which we raised you and your sister. As fewer families of young children have the benefit of living near families who can help in significant ways and fewer belong to religious communities that share in providing a formal support system to families, the parent groups that form within school communities are essential to child development and strengthing the ties that bind.
JEN: Any advice for other moms/grandparents with young children about how to involve kids in community service?
Be intentional about the value you want to instill as a family. Then find something that is fun to do as a family and with other families. The values you promote by action as a family will help define what is best about your family. Remind your children that the special feeling they experience when someone does something nice for them or when they do something nice for another is within all of us to encourage us to do even more for one another.
I felt my mother’s warm hands go cold when she gave those gloves to the Iroquois woman on a Buffalo corner one December, but that action lit a fire within me that energizes my work today in doing what I can to raise research funds for MS and other diseases.
The grandmother you never knew helped you open the hearts of your daughters to contribute their piggy bank money to disabled children at Providence Hospital last Winter, gather up and donate books for “Books Make It Better,” and count coins to help children in developing countries get vaccines for Shot@Life.
Just like anything else, if you don’t know where you’re going, you will surely get there: nowhere. But, if you are intentional about what you want to teach your children, chances are, you will eventually get somewhere very special.
Thank you mom for everything you have done — and do — to inspire me to keep my eyes open, and my life aligned, around supporting others! Your lifelong commitment to being aware of, and engaged in, community needs — both personally and professionally — is nothing short of amazing. I’m proud to be raising two daughters who seem to be on this track as well. Happy Mother’s Day….
Happy Saturday….I’m still unwinding from four action-packed days in DC for Mom Congress 2012. What a week! It would be impossible to sum up this experience in a blog post — or several — but I’ll try to highlight a few of the (many…) takeaways I had after a week spent with some incredible Delegates from 2010 and 2011, our 2012 Delegate class, our Advisory Board, and our education partners.
During the conference, now in its 3rd year, we tackled issues ranging from early education resources to school nutrition to common core standards to education funding to parent-teacher engagement and much much more.
Because “5″ is a big number in our house these days — my daughters recently graduated from the big “4 and three quarters” recently — and because it’s Cinqo de Mayo, too…. here are 5 initial takeaways from my week. You can also check out the official “Highlights of Mom Congress”, too; it has more perspectives and links to blog posts from many of the other Delegates. (That photo to the right is our PacNW crew!)
#1: Early Is (Still) Everything.
As a Preschool parent, early education has been a key focus of my efforts over the past year. Last year at Mom Congress, we learned that nearly 2/3 of children living in poverty have no books at home, and enter school without the basic language skills they need to learn to read.
This year, I had the privilege of sitting on a panel to present on Books Make it Better, where we also heard from Kim Davenport, SVP of Jumpstart. She shared that 50% of low-income children start school up to 2 years behind their peers. We also heard from Mark Shriver, of Save the Children, who summed it up well when he said, “Because children don’t vote, mobilize in PACs, and aren’t in the media, many are not getting heard.” He also told some great family stories — and as you can imagine, he has some incredible ones. One that stood out for me was that, when his father Founded the National Headstart program in 1965, it was supposed to be an 8 week summer program — and today serves 1 million kids each day (only 1/2 of those who qualify).
One of the big highlights of the week for me was finally getting to meet, and learn from. Earl Martin Phelan, CEO of Reach Out and Read. I had the privilege of interviewing last Fall. He shared both his personal experiences as a young child growing up in the Foster Care system, highlights from Reach Out and Read. You can read more about ways to get involved — and my personal passion for this organization, in our recent post, “Let’s Reach Out; 5 ways to support early literacy.“.
Phelan also shared with us his work with the Summer Advantage Program, which supports thousands of low-income elementary and middle schoolers with research-based learning programs. And, we had several new Delegates step up to join our growing Books Make it Better movement for next Fall, too! (In case you’re new to the blog, here’s our recent KATU news segment on our local early literacy efforts ,which was inspired by Mom Congress 2011.)
#2 Parent & Teacher Engagement Is Key.
As the sister, cousin, and close friend of many incredible educators, I feel lucky to have close communication with our teachers, today. I was intrigued by the findings of the Parent/Teacher Communication Study, a recent survey by Parenting Magazine and the National Education Association. As Lily Eskelson shared, the study explores the roadblocks to effective parent-teacher communication.
One of the many “disconnects” we learned is that 68% of teachers have difficulty in dealing with parents, but 63% of parents report having no difficulty in dealing with parents. And, More than one-quarter of parents cite their biggest challenge as being teachers’ perceived lack of understanding for their concerns, while one in three teachers cited parents’ lack of understanding of their child’s issues as their biggest challenge.
On a hopeful note, though, we learned about the National Family Engagement Alliance, which launched at Mom Congress by Byron Garrett, a leading planner of NBC News’ Education Nation and former CEO of the National PTA. You can like them on Facebook & follow them @EngageFamilies on Twitter. I’m so proud of my friend Myrdin Thompson, 2010 Kentucky Delegate & 2011/2012 Mentor; her new role as Regional Director! I’m looking forward to learning more about them soon.
I feel fortunate to have — at least for now — a close relationship with our preschool teachers. I know, though, that this won’t last forever. This session was an eye-opener to me and one I’ll be thinking more about in the coming months as my girls prepare for their Kindergarten year.
3. Healthier Kids (I hope) Are On the Horizon…
The panel, “Let’s Move: Educating Our Children To Lead Healthier Lives” addressed all aspects of raising healthier students. We started off with insights from Sam Kass, White House chef and Senior Policy Adviser for Healthy Food Initiatives. He who shared that, for the first time in 15 years, resources are finally being increased for school nutrition programs. After meeting Sarah Wu, the Chicago teacher who (secretly) wrote “Fed Up With Lunch” last year, I’d say It’s about time…
We also discussed the importance of something simple — but seriously missing — from many kids’ lives: playgrounds. Darrell Hammond, CEO of Kaboom, shared that only 1 in 5 kids in the U.S. (that’s 15 million kids) don’t have access to a safe nearby park. He also introduced Ourdreamplayground.org, a new resource to enable families build, donate, or volunteer to support more safe playgrounds in their community.
As Ana Connery noted, ”playgrounds can be our kids first teaching ground — learning how to take turns, overcome fears, negotiate with others.” I’ve seen this firsthand in our school’s Games At Recess Parents Program, inspired by the work of Playworks, who I met at Mom Congress 2011. (As an aside, Playworks Portland is actively recruiting volunteers; learn more about them here. I think the work they do is incredible!)
I also loved meeting Rachel Gutter, Director for the The Center for Green Schools who shared with us programs underway to drive the transformation of schools into more sustainable places to live, work, learn and play. Their Green Apple Day of Service program on Sept 29 where advocates from around the world— from students to teachers to officials — will come together to support more sustainable schools. You can get started before then with some great everyday activity ideas here, and setup a student group anytime.
One big area of concern for me — which we didn’t really have the chance to dive into in great detail —are the rising number of kids who come to school hungry each day. Here in Portland, I’m proud to work with and support The Portland Backpack Program; I’ll be blogging more on this topic soon.
For more on this topic — and lots of to-do’s— read “Class Dismissed: 10 Ways To Get Kids Moving At School And At Home“, a blog post from Mom Congress 2011.
#4 Use Stories to Sell Your Message
#5: Above All, Mom Congress Delegates Are Incredible!
When I applied to represent Oregon in 2011 for Mom Congress, I assumed I might learn a few things that would help me navigate the education landscape for my family, and perhaps discover a few community organizations to connect with in my desire to learn more, and do more, in my new hometown.
I had no idea that I’d meet some of the most incredible moms — who are as diverse as the states and cities we come from — who are mentors, colleagues, and friends. We each define “advocacy” and “reform” in different ways, and the challenges we’re facing as parents and community members run the gamut. But there’s no question we are united because we care about schools, and kids, and because we’re not willing to settle when it comes to kids and families in our communities.
On our final day in DC, I had the honor of attending Congressional meetings led by Melissa Bilash, 2010 Delegate and 2011/2012 Mentor, Steminist, and advocate for Gifted and Special Needs children. (I interviewed her last year here). I’ll be posting more on this soon.
I also joined Oregon’s awesome new delegate, Betsy Tam Salter, at a meeting with Senator Ron Wyden‘s staffer, where we discussed various local issues ranging from education funding to supporting Homeless students and those in Foster Care, to early education resources. What an incredible experience, thank you Betsy!
And so..as I I officially “pass the baton” to Betsy, our new Oregon Delegate, I want to thank the Parenting Magazine Team and our Sponsors for putting together another incredible program, and for your commitment to bringing moms, education advocacy leaders, and businesses who are committed to the fight for better schools.
Betsy will be sharing her thoughts on the experience in an upcoming post. Can’t wait to hear what she has to say……
I’m writing this post from my airplane ride, heading into DC for Mom Congress 2012. I can’t wait! I also can’t help but reflect on just how much can happen in a short period of time if you put your passion behind a cause you believe in.
A year ago, I was a preschool parent who was just excited to learn a few things and meet some fellow engaged moms. Since then, I’ve had the opportunity to cover so many topics on this blog, and I’ve been honored to share perspectives and resources on many other blogs too — such as the “Adventures of an Accidental Activist” series on Scoop on Schools, and “What’s Working in Oregon” on Parenting.com). I’ve also gotten to know so many local grassroots organizations and individuals who are working towards improving schools and resources for kids across Oregon. One word…wow.
As a Preschool parent, the issue that hit closest to home for me last year was Early Literacy. Through time with speaker Congress I got exposed to many tough facts about the massive divide between what my daughters experience thanks to their early access to books — and what so many other children in low-income communities do not.
When Dr. Robert Needlman, Founder of Reach Out and Read shared that 2/3 of kids living in poverty don’t have a single book in their home, I reflected a lot on our own family bookshelf. I became inspired to do more — and Books Make it Better was born. (If you’re a newer reader and haven’t followed this story, here’s where it all began last May check out our recent TV segment, with Dr. Ellen Stevenson, Oregon’s Reach Out and Read Medical Director, here).
I know I’ll have a lot to share I’ll certainly have a lot to share after 3 jam-packed days with this incredible group of engaged moms — and I’m really looking forward to hearing Earl Martin Phalen, Reach out and Read’s CEO, speak during the conference; I’ve been inspired by his work ever since I interviewed him last Fall. In the meantime, wanted to share 5 Easy Ways You Can Support Early Literacy this week…month…and year!
1. Learn about the Reach Out and Read mission and model.
In case they aren’t on your radar, they should be. They are a research-tested, evidence-based model proven to help children develop the language skills they will need to learn to read and succeed in school. Annually, they distribute 6,571,782 books to 4,057,022 children across the country through a network of national and international chapters who house programs at hospitals, health centers, clinics, and private pediatric practices. Locally, I recently interviewed Executive Director Anne Stone here. You can also see our recent local feature on KATU news here.
2. Connect Socially & Promote Summer Reading!
You can keep up with Reach Out and Read on social media to keep up with latest literacy news, research, and updates on early literacy! Follow Reach Out and Read on Twitter and ”Like” them on Facebook.
You can also help promote Reach Out and Read/Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge via blogs, community newsletters, and social media. This is a great way to help all families remember to make time for reading during the summer — and avoid the “Summer Brain Drain.” All of the information will be here as of May 1 (tomorrow!).
3. Watch The New Reach Out and Read video – and share it with your networks!
Earlier this year, Reach Out and Read released a new 4:30-minute video about the program, featuring actor Hill Harper of CSI:NY. Spend a few minutes learning about Reach Out and Read, and share this video via blogs, social media, or online forums/newsletters.
4. Host a book drive for a local Reach Out and Read site in your community
While the pediatricians in our program distribute brand-new books to children during well-child checkups, many sites also offer gently-used books in their literacy-rich waiting rooms for families to take home. These books can go to a sibling of a child visiting the doctor for a checkup or may just help the family build their home library.
A book drive is the perfect way to get a school, club or community group involved in promoting reading and supporting Reach Out and Read. You can get some start tips from our recent holiday season journey in “How Books Are Making it Better“, and get an update on our local Winter book drive here. There are also more tips and tools on the Books Make it Better site. There, you’ll find helpful early literacy facts and resources. You can also download the complete Books Make it Better toolkit on the Mom Congress Resource Center here.
Want to get in touch with your local Reach Out and Read state contact? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for details; the list will also be posted the list on the Mom Congress resource center shortly.
A little goes a long way with Reach Out and Read. The program costs just $10 a year per child to provide brand-new books, critical advice for parents on the importance of reading aloud, and training to a network of 28,000 volunteer pediatricians. Learn how you can support Reach Out and Read here!
Stay tuned for more soon!
Today is a very special day because it is the launch day for a new global health campaign that I have grown very passionate about: Shot@Life. I posted this article on my company blog, but wanted to share it here as well in the hopes that you will spare 15 minutes…
15 Minutes. Doesn’t sound like a lot in the scheme of the week ahead of you, does it? It’s about the time that many of us spend scanning Twitter feeds, reading a few blog posts, or making small talk before diving into the heart of a meeting. But this week, I’m cutting back on all of it, in the name of a new global health campaign, Shot@Life, that launches today. Will you?
Let me back up for a minute. As some of you know from previous posts here and on my personal advocacy blog, Shot@Life is a new UN Foundation movement, which educates,
connects and empowers Americans to champion vaccines as one of the most cost-effective ways to save the lives of children in developing countries.
This week, I’m part of a national team of individuals and global partners — including UNICEF, GAVI Alliance, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Red Cross, and others — to celebrate Shot@Life’s national launch with grassroots events and programs across the country.
As the mother of two daughters who have had the benefit of vaccines — and are embracing milestones in their lives each day — participating in this program has great personal meaning for me; I shared some perspectives on 1OregonMom, my personal advocacy blog, in “Shot@Life Summit Snaphot: 5 Things I Learned.” And today, I’m proud to share a bit about the commitment I’m making on the professional front, too.
At the summit, I learned that children in developing countries are dying every 20 seconds from completely preventable diseases and that, even with increased global immunization rates, one in five children around the world still lacks access to life-saving vaccines. So, when we celebrated our 2nd anniversary, which also fell on my 40th birthday, I set forth a simple goal: get 40 kids immunized against polio and measles by World Immunization Week (i.e. today…).
That’s 98 more “shots” at Messy Eating. Tempter Tantrums. Sibling Rivalry. And perhaps, one day, taking 15 Minutes of their time, too, to helping other causes down the road. That matters to me.
LOCAL SMALL BUSINESSES ARE STEPPING UP…
Here in Portland, I’ll be gathering with 15 other small businesses and entrepreneurs for “Get Social for Shot@Life,” which benefits the Shot@Life campaign. In addition to the proceeds
donated from attendee registration fees, I’ll be asking attendees to help us spread the word about Shot@Life through their social networks, and consider flexing their new-found social media skills by attending our Shot@Life Twitter Party this Thursday, April 26.
I’ve also been quite inspired to see several business step up in even bigger ways…
- Soccer Shots: When I mentioned Shot@Life to Joel Newman, who runs Soccer Shots here in Portland (which my kids love, love, love…) he immediately stepped up to offer his support, making a donation to immunize 20 children against polio and measles and spreading the word about our campaign on his Facebook page. He also donated raffle prizes to support additional fundraising efforts, and offered to sponsor some of his coaching staff to attend our Get Social for Shot@Life workshop. As Joel says, “There aren’t very many things that distract me from coaching kids soccer but the choice to support Shot@Life was a simple one – vaccines save lives. Let’s give every kid a chance to play on the field of life!”
- Nomad Brush: When Don Lee and Anna Choe, founders of Portland-based Nomad Brush, learned about Shot@Life, they offered to help before I could complete the sentence! “When we learned that 1.7 million children will die from diseases that have all but disappeared in the U.S.,” noted Nomad Brush Founder Don Lee, “we became inspired to step up and do our part.” So, they will be donating $3 of every Nomad Play brush sold between now and Mother’s Day, and they are also supporting local Shot@Life events across the country with product donations to support additional fundraising efforts. You can read more about it here.
- I’m also thrilled to see businesses like Noodles & Company, The Art Cubby & The SMO Books, Dennison Capen Group, and Amy Troute Inspired Interior Design step up to support the campaign through extended social media support and raffle prize donations to support additional fundraising efforts which will run from April 24 until Mother’s Day. Stay tuned for more on our raffle later in the week, or contact me here if you’d like to donate a prize. In the meantime…
JOIN IN MAKING MORE MILESTONES…15 minutes at a time
Want to join us in the fun? It’s easy. I promise. For starters, if you can donate 15 minutes of your time any day this week, here’s a great easy list: “Some moms walk 15 miles. We’re asking for 15 minutes of your time.”
You can also….
- Connect with Shot@Life on
Facebook, on Twitter, and YouTube
- Share the message socially with these sample Tweets and posts here
- Join our Twitter Party this Thursday April 26 9am – 12pm ET via #vaccineswork.
- Visit my personal campaign page here and make a donation
of any amount to help further these efforts.
- Read about and support local events across the country this week.
Thanks for your support…stay tuned later in the week for more!
It’s been awhile since I posted…busy month on both the work and the personal advocacy front, as we gear up for next week’s Shot@Life campaign launch and then…I’m headed back to DC for Mom Congress the following week!
As I prepare to return to Mom Congress — this time as a Mentor for our 2012 delegate class, and to present on our Books Make it Better program — I am also reflecting on the many other outcomes and efforts I’ve had the opportunity to work that have come in the past year. What a difference a short year can make in one mom’s journey!
One of the organizations whose message hit home for me was Playworks, a non-profit founded by Oakland mom Jill Vialet with a simple goal: transform recess and the school day with safe and healthy play so teachers can teach and kids can learn. I profiled Jill’s session in a post last year, “Class Dismissed.”
After returning from Mom Congress, I was inspired to explore what we might do locally to help increase opportunities for physical activity and safe, meaningful play. While I had my hands full at the time with Books Make it Better, I was thrilled when a fellow preschool parent stepped up to run (literally!) with this idea.
MELODIE: GARP (Games at Recess – Parents) was born from the idea of giving kids an option to play organized playground games during recess in addition to their normal free play. I saw a need at our school to create a time on the playground when everyone could play together and everyone was included.
After doing some further research, I learned that there are many benefits to kids playing organized recess games including increased social skills, skill building, and increased physical activity. Additional studies indicate that bullying can start as early as preschool and often manifests itself on the playground first, and that organized games where everyone is included is a deterent.
JEN: How did you take this concept from idea…into action?
MELODIE: Luckily, Playworks has already taken the lead with this concept and runs their programs in Title 1 schools across the country. They were extremely helpful with sharing information, tips, and allowing me to volunteer with them to get a feel for running the games. I was also blessed in having a very supportive administration at my daughter’s school that welcomed the idea. From there it was just a matter of creating a list of games, gathering game supplies, and organizing volunteering parents to come out in groups of 2 once a week to lead games.
We’re concluding our seventh month of GARP at our school and I’m happy to report that it’s been a success! The kids love it, the playground staff endorse it, and we’ve gotten alot of positive feedback from the parents.It’s taken some effort to fully develop GARP, but when I see and hear the kids laughing and having a great time playing the games together, even the ones that used to be shy or excluded, it makes it all worthwhile
JEN: How Have Parents and Kids Responded To the Program?
Melodie: I’ll share some direct quotes from them….
“I wanted to let you know that our son, came home SO EXCITED about the games he played at recess yesterday! He’s not quite 4 years old so his narratives were a bit hard to follow, but the emotional response was striking. He is a child who tends to hover near the teachers at recess so I was thrilled that these games got him out of his shell and interacting with other children on the playground. Thank you for the good work you are doing for our children!”
“I think GARP has been great for the kids, I’ve heard them ask if there is going to be games on days that you aren’t even there!”
“Your games sound fabulous!! You’re welcome to share my feedback with the others working on the program. I think the games are going great, I hope you can get more parents involved!”
Thank you Melodie…for being a mom who steps up, shows up, and makes things happen. You’re an amazing example of what one mom can do to champion change in your community! And, I encourage anyone who is interested to learn more about Playworks Portland here.
I’m sure there will be more to report on this topic from Mom Congress in a few weeks!
I am thrilled to introduce Oregon’s newly appointed Mom Congress delegate, Betsy Tam Salter! I had the honor of meeting Betsy recently, and we’ll be attending Mom Congress together April 29-May 1, as I return in a Mentor role for our 2012 delegate class.You may have seen Betsy featured in a piece that ran in OregonLive earlier this week —if not, read it here. She’s a serious inspiration!
Betsy is mom to 12-year old Maggie, a 6th grader in PPS. Her family moved to Portland from Arlington, VA in 2004 when her husband took a job with the U.S. EPA Oregon Operations Office. When Maggie started Kindergarten in 2005, Betsy started working for Start Making A Reader Today (SMART) as a volunteer coordinator at Clark Elementary and Mill Park Elementary schools. After 3 years, the Mill Park Principal moved to an all Kindergarten school in David Douglas School District, North Powellhurst Kindergarten School, and hired her as a Title I (Reading) assistant. Since then, she’s been an active member of the Oregon PTA and the Portland Schools Foundation, including serving as the school PTA President-elect and President for 2 years while her daughter was in grade school.
Due to school budget cuts, Betsy’s been in (amazing!) full-time mom since June 2010, spending extra time volunteering in her daughter’s school and advocating for increased funding for public education. She also helped found Oregon Save Our Schools in August 2011. She also will be sharing tips on starting a Mother/Daughter reading club in an upcoming post. I had so many questions for her…here are just a few of them!
JB: What were some of your earliest experiences in education advocacy?
BTS: My first dive into education advocacy back in 2005 was all about funding to support a comprehensive curriculum and reasonable class sizes in every school. I moved to Oregon assuming that a state that was a national leader in setting progressive policies like the Bottle Bill, Public Beaches, Land Use Planning, Vote By Mail, Death with Dignity, Labor Day and Minimum Wage would value public education above all.
It’s taken me a long time to wrap my head around how our local property taxes for schools are sent to the state and the state redistributes the money equitably across school districts. How the level of funding for education has been dramatically compromised by everything from Measure 5 to mandatory prison sentences to the recent economic recession (especially with respect to property values). It’s not as simple as paying your property taxes and a chunk of that goes directly to your local school district – Oregonians don’t understand that. The other challenge we face with school funding is that the vast majority of households (in Portland it’s 80%) don’t have children in school or direct contact with the schools.
JB: Any Advice or tips to share with newbie activists?
BTS: YOU know what is best for your child. YOU know what kind of public school you want for your child. Join your school PTA, and ask them to keep you abreast of state efforts to pass education reforms or tax reforms that could affect your school district – every school PTA should have a legislative liaison. Find out who your state legislators are and go to their Town Halls and Community Coffees to meet them, hear their priorities and share your priorities. Write or call them to let them know whether you support or object to legislation that is under consideration. Oregon’s children need all parents to pay attention and contribute to state education policy discussion – our schools either benefit or suffer the consequences of what happens (or doesn’t happen) in Salem.
I would also urge parents to try and stay abreast of federal education policy discussions as Oregon schools are directly aftected by U.S. Department of Education policies such as Race to the Top competitive funding (how does that square with our government’s responsiblity to provide every child with access to an equitable and quality public education?), the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act – formerly known as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) – conditional waivers (which trade one set of unrealistic requirements and unreasonable penalties for another just as bad or worse conditions), and the overdue reauthorization of the ESEA. You can find out who your U.S. Senators and Congressional Representative is and how to contact them here.
JB: What issue(s) are you most passionate about when it comes to education reform here in Oregon, and/or nationally?
BTS: Stable, adequate and equitable funding for public schools. I am especially concerned about making sure schools in low income communities get the additional support they need to have schools that are as wonderful as schools in neighborhoods with generous PTAs and Foundations. If Oregon is serious about attaining a 100% HS graduation rate of students ready for college or career by 2025, we need to invest in having a comprehensive curriculum in every public school regardless of zip code (full-time librarian, art, music, P.E., foreign languages…), class sizes that allow teachers to differentiate instruction, schools where every child arrives feeling valued, welcome, safe and supported to succeed in school to the best of their ability, well-trained, certified teachers who feel respected and valued and are encouraged to be creative and passionate about practicing their craft and wrap-around services for struggling students who need a little extra help and support to be successful.
In addition to the absence of adequate and stable funding, some detrimental education reforms that started under NCLB are being continued or exacerbated by Race to the Top. For example, the use of standardized high stakes tests to label schools as needing interventions and teachers as ineffective. There is a strong body of evidence to prove that these multiple choice tests are meaningless – yet because so much is at stake for schools and teachers, the pressure to teach to the test and to absorb funding cuts by cutting courses that aren’t tested (narrow the curriculum) is hard to resist – if not impossible. So, shining a light on the how high stakes tests are seriously hampering the ability of our schools to provide our children with a quality education is just as important as funding.
JB: What inspired you to apply for Mom Congress? What are you most looking forward to/hope to gain from the experience?
BTS: I first learned about Mom Congress when I came across your Chalkboard Project blog post about your experience as a 2011 Mom Congress delegate. I looked at what you and other delegates were doing and looked at my own efforts and decided I should at least try. I wanted to be part of this amazing network of activist moms who want what’s best for all kids. I am looking forward to learning and networking and working together to make Oregon’s and the U.S. public education system as good as Finland’s (or better!) – where every child has access to a great comprehensive education and teachers are valued and respected.
JB: When you’re not fighting for better schools…what do you love to do with your daughter?
BTS: Reading – we’re in a Mother/Daughter book club and i also volunteer for Maggie’s teacher as a Literature Circle facilitator. Traveling to new places as well as visiting family in So. California, WI and New England. Supporting Maggie in her personal ventures – in addition to being a good student, Maggie is an accomplished baton twirler (she is the 2011 Oregon State Junior Dance Twirl Champion) and she also takes gymnastics, ballet & modern dance lessons, plays flute with the school band and sings with the Shine and Lighthouse Choirs. My husband, Joel, has fixed up a VW Westfalia camper van and we enjoy going on spur of the moment weekend camping trips as well as annual camping trips with his Returned Peace Corps Volunteer and NW Westie camper van friends.
Thank you, Betsy! I’m looking forward to following your journey as we experience Mom Congress together next month!
I’m so excited! I had the incredible honor of meeting Betsy Tam Salter, Oregon’s 2012 Mom Congress Delegate this week! I’ll be sharing more in a future posts, but in the meantime, wanted to let you know about 3 upcoming events she shared with me for anyone interested in learning about, and engaging, in Oregon education reform:
1. ARE SCHOOLS REALLY FAILING? WITH DIANE RAVITCH (3/20; 4:30 reception; 7pm program)
Diane Ravitch, a Research Professor of Education at New York University, education historian, and educational policy analyst, will be presenting a talk, sponsored by the Illahee Lecture Series. Click here to download the flyer.
Reception Hosted by Oregon Save Our Schools from 4:30-6:30; Event is at 7pm. For more info and reserve your tickets, click here. And to reserve your spot at the reception, click here (7 tickets left last time I checked!)
Join educators, community leaders and elected officials in a dialogue on the future of Oregon’s schools. Linda Darling-Hammond, Professor of Education at Stanford University and Director of the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future, is Keynoting. Other speakers include David Conley, CEO of chief executive officer of the Educational Policy Improvement Center (EPIC) and Professor of Educational Leadership at the University of Oregon, and Nancy Golden, Oregon Superintendant of the Year, 2011 and Governor John Kitzhaber’s Education Advisor and Alternate Chair for the Oregon Education Investment Board (OEIB).
Registration for this event is open to the public. For non-OEA members, there is a a suggested donation of $25 to support the costs of this conference. A portion of the donation will also go to the OEA Foundation and its work to make a positive difference in lives of needy Oregon students.
Today, our family celebrates yet another birthday milestone: my daughters are 5. Was it really 5 years ago tonight I sat in a hospital staring into the face of two tiny newborns trying harder than I ever imagined trying to get through the first of so many milestones we’d accomplish together — the crazy adventure of tandem breastfeeding?
Luckily for me, I had the benefit of an incredible support system, family, friends — and the world’s most incredible lactation consultant — to get me through that first milestone, and all of the others that followed. And I have the luxury — at every milestone like today — of getting to spend time creating even more memories for them: Breakfast in bed. Sushi with a candle in it for dinner. Double Scoops of Ice Cream. And tomorrow, I’ll begin thinking about what I can do to give more, be more, and do more for my kids, and the world around them, in the coming year.
The tough truth that we all know — but seem to easily forget — is how many moms in our communities, and around the world, don’t get to experience any of these milestones. Because many of their children are not surviving their own childhood. Every 20 seconds, children are dying simply because they don’t have access to life-saving vaccines against against pneumonia, diarrhea, measles, and polio. That’s just not ok.
That’s why I’m proud to be part of a growing UN Foundation movement, Shot@Life. (I recently blogged about my recent experience at the UN Foundation Shot@Life Summit here).
It’s also why I stepped back today and reflected on all of this — honoring a promise I made to my daughters on their 4 1/2 birthday —to slow down and try to reflect more. I can’t promise I’ve been perfect (far from it, in fact) but it got me thinking today, and also inspired me to catchup on some reading I’ve been wanting to do.
And so, in honor of my girl’s 5th birthday, I have 5 quick posts I hope you will read today (or soon!) from a few of the many champions who are getting behind this growing movement….
- Kathy Calvin, CEO, United Nations Foundation (that’s us to the right!) shares in “Inspiring Women” her experience last year in Liberia with Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the first democratically elected female president of an African nation, and Michelle Bachelet, Executive Director of UN Women and former president of Chile. As she notes, “The example of these two women inspired me to think more courageously about a future where women are safe, healthy, educated and can prosper.” She also introduces a new infographic, “The Reality of Her Day, Every Day” which I think is a great visual to help tell the story of our growing global health crisis.
- Peg Willingham, Executive Director, Shot@Life Campaign, also shares some great perspectives from her recent trip to Honduras in “Remarkable. Dedicated. Strong. Global. Women.” I had the honor of getting to know Peg at our Summit and am truly inspired by the work of her incredible team. That’s us below with Myrdin Thompson…
- In “A Shot@Life From Mexico To The Rest Of The World”, Felisa Hilbert shares her first-hand perspectives in Mexico in a community where access to vaccines was limited. Her post is a tiny window in the kind of passion and dedication she brings to every challenge she takes on. I’ve had the honor of working with Felisa as a fellow Mom Congress delegate; she is literally Unstoppable. (Did I mention she recruited me to join the Oklahoma PTA? To be clear, I am a preschool parent in Oregon. But she’s that good!).
- I also love the message of another fellow Delegate, Myrdin Thompson, in ”How Do You Change The World?” Myrdin has in incredible outlook on the simple steps we can all take, daily, to give kids in our communities and around the world a shot at everything they deserve. Thank you, Myrdin!
- In “What Following My Mother Through Graveyards Taught Me“, Chrysula Winegar, shares her story which I can relate to — as the fellow daughter of a genealogist. Her blog, “When You Wake Up a Mother” is an inspiring resource to follow!
- And finally, I was inspired to read about Dimitri Godur, an 8th grader who saw an ABC News Segment about the campaign and is organizing small efforts like smoothie drives & candy-grams — which have already helped immunize 80 kids against polio and measles. That’s impressive, for sure. But to me, the even more powerful message here is the engagement and connections he is creating among students and young teens. I look forward to following his journey and hope it inspires other students, too!
Interested in learning more? Here are 3 Ways:
- Join the Shot@Life Twitter party tomorrow, Wednesday, March 14th at 6pm PST/9pm EST. Hashtag #shotatlife!
- “Like” Shot@Life on Facebook and Follow them on Twitter for more news and updates.
- You can also visit my personal Shot@Life campaign page if you are inspired to make a donation of any amount towards my goal of immunizing 40 kids against polio & measles by Global Vaccination Week in April…
Thanks for listening! More to come on this in the weeks ahead…