by Margie Doyle
Orcas School District Readiness to Learn Program Coordinator
The generosity of Orcas Islanders in helping their fellow islanders in times of trouble is legendary. We see it every day and particularly in times of crisis.
For many families with school-aged children, those crises happen without the ability to plan for them – illness, transportation breakdowns, unemployment, emergency repairs, even lack of housing – for examples.
Orcas Island School District has a program to deal with the challenges to students’ school success when these crises develop; it’s been called the Readiness to Learn Program, and has been a part of Orcas School’s K-12 program for 15 years.
At the school, and in outreach to other island students, Nancy O’Brien (who is also the elementary school counselor) works with students and their families to provide assistance when health, academic, social/emotional and basic needs present themselves; Julie Pinardi serves this role as student-family advocate in the middle/high schools.
Nancy and Julie are able to respond quickly and privately through a small, revolving fund called the Student Family Support Fund. This fund, now monitored by the nonprofit Orcas Angels, is where they go to ask for $25 for gym shoes, or $80 for tutoring, or $200 for tires, or $36 for asthma inhalers, or food and gas certificates. Sometimes we are asked to provide assistance with larger amounts, such as rent or utility bills.
These are just a few of the examples of requests from the fund. We have found that by helping out our families in these small but meaningful ways, we can help them meet the other challenges in providing for their families.
In recent years, the Student Family Support Fund has been asked to fulfill requests for about $1,800 total over the year. At this time the Readiness to Learn program finds the Fund at under $500. Our goal is to have a $1,000 balance at the close of each year.
We are asking the community to help fund the Student Family Support Fund with donations of any amount, paid by check to the Student Family Support Fund, care of Readiness to Learn and mailed to 557 School Road, Eastsound WA 98245.
We are also asking you to drop by the bake sale table we’ll have at Island Market on Saturday, Nov. 23 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. We’d love to tell you about what we do, about some of our families’ needs and “happy endings,” and to have you buy delicious pies, cookies, cakes or other baked items. (And if you could donate a baked item, please email email@example.com).
At this season of remembrance and thanksgiving, I am so grateful that I can ask the Orcas community to help Readiness to Learn at the Orcas School help our students and their families throughout the year with the Student Family Support Fund.
Please consider making a contribution – any amount is greatly appreciated.