What do you get when local school staff join together with 20+ health, human services, neighborhood, and community organizations and businesses to create a fun end-of-summer event for 300+ families? You get a lot of smiles, a little bit of chaos, and an outpouring of positive vibes to start off the new school year.
Sponsored by Comcast Internet Essentials and cohosted by Solid Ground, Mercy Housing, and Seattle Parks and Recreation/Magnuson Community Center, the August 26 back-to-school event on the Sand Point Family Lawn gave families at Sand Point Housing and the newly opened Mercy Magnuson Place a chance to meet each other and school staff, gather resources to help with school success, enjoy a barbeque and live music, and just have fun.
The event wouldn’t have been possible without support from our corporate partner Comcast NBCUniversal. Comcast’s Internet Essentials program provides low-cost internet to eligible families and individuals within the Comcast service area. It’s a great resource for many in our community who are otherwise unable to afford internet services.
At the event, Angielene Savini, Comcast Internet Essentials Ambassador, talked to parents about the program and how to qualify, and assisted them in signing up for Internet Essentials (more info below).
“Our partnership with Solid Ground has been key in helping bridge the digital divide and provide low-cost internet service to community members and residents at Sand Point. Comcast has provided sponsorship, in addition to coordinating back-to-school events and donating laptops to give away for the residents or children who live in the community. I’m the new ambassador for this area, so I’ve started to work with Charlisse [Solid Ground Children’s Program Manager] to plan additional events. I am thrilled to be a direct resource to the residents from Comcast – and I’m excited to be part of this effort to connect families to the internet.”
Vy Le, who’s been a Mercy Housing Resident Services Manager for eight years, says “We partnered with different organizations to organize this – Solid Ground, YMCA, Denise Louie, Seattle Parks & Rec – for a back-to-school event.” The collaboration serves two purposes: “One, welcoming our residents, but also preparing the families to go back to school. We’re giving out backpack and school supplies, so families don’t have to struggle finding [them].” Families got to “build their own” backpacks, filling them with supplies to meet their students’ specific needs.
“Students are coming over with smiles, so they’re obviously rejuvenated and excited about getting back to the building and learning.” ~Kristin Rose, Eckstein Middle School Interim Principal
Vy is pleased that the principals from both Sand Point Elementary and Eckstein Middle School were present to connect with and welcome families to the new school year. Eckstein’s Interim Principal, Kristin Rose, says “I’m excited to participate tonight as we’ve been reconnecting with a whole lot of our students and their families – talking about what they’re excited for in the year, if they have any concerns, if there’s things we can get out in front of to really support them and help them have a good transition back to school.”
Kristin says Eckstein has approximately 65 students from Sand Point Housing and Mercy Magnuson Place combined, “with more enrolling every day. Students are coming over with smiles, so they’re obviously rejuvenated and excited about getting back to the building and learning.”
Child Care Resources, Neighborcare Health, NAMI Seattle (mental health), UnitedHealthcare Community Plan, and UW’s The Center for Pediatric Dentistry were among the health and wellness providers present.
The fun festivities included the Y of Greater Seattle’s very popular make-your-own “Slime Buffet” table, complete with colors, scents, and sparkles. Kids also lined up patiently for fresh cuts from Rudy’s Barbershop, and The Seattle Public Library hosted a magic show and gave out free books.
Librarian Robin Rousu with The Seattle Public Library’s Mobile Services says, “The Library’s been working with Brettler Family Place since it opened, and mobile services has been coming for the last four years. We’ve been coming every week this summer to Brettler and doing art with the kids, and it’s been fantastic – so we’re really happy we could be here at the end-of-summer party and bring free books and stress balls to give away for the start of school – for parents AND kids!” The event gave them the chance to have “some great conversations about books, and some great conversations about the library and getting people connected to resources.”
One Sand Point Family Housing mom says she and her son had a great view of the event setup from their apartment and got to watch the booths literally pop up over the course of the afternoon. As part of Seattle Parks & Rec, Assistant Coordinator Doug Oaksford of Magnuson Community Center says, “We’re always happy to partner with Solid Ground; we do a lot together.” Doug helped prep for the event from start to finish as part of the planning committee. Day of, he says, “I set up many tables, many popup tents, and the sound equipment! I’m more of a boots-on-the-ground-type guy than an idea-type person, but I’m happy to help in any way that I can.”
Charlisse Hammon, Solid Ground Children’s Program Manager sums up the evening: “It had a nice flow, and it was a good turnout!” – evidenced in part by the amount of barbeque consumed: “We gave out 400 hamburgers and 250 hotdogs!” Yet another valued partner, OneLife Community Church, which serves regular weekly summer dinners on the Sand Point Family Lawn, prepped and cooked the food. “They normally cook for 60-70 people on the campus,” she says, “so it was a huge undertaking to cook for more than 300 people. The church volunteers worked longer hours for this event and were helpful with setting up and cleaning up after.”
Charlisse is greatly appreciative of all of the partners who came together to make it a great night. “I’m glad Comcast sponsored the event again – and the collaboration between the community partners made the event more special.” It was a true community-building success!
About Internet Essentials
Comcast’s Internet Essentials program is the largest, most comprehensive, and most successful broadband adoption program in the nation. It provides low-cost internet ($9.95/month) to low-income families and individuals within the Comcast service area.
Eligibility: To qualify, applicants simply need to show they participate in one of more than a dozen different government assistance programs, including: Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Comcast also accepts applications from households that have a student eligible for the National School Lunch Program, live in public housing, receive HUD Housing Assistance (including Section 8 vouchers), or participate in the Veterans Pension Program, as well as low-income seniors in select pilot markets.
Visit www.internetessentials.com for a full list of eligibility programs, an application, and more information – or call 1.855.846.8376.