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Compass Center and HELP Program staff welcome families during the event.

Starting at the Left Front Row: Terri Seifert, Jutta Pearce, Myrian Trapala-Mofinez, Katey Townsend, Hernandez.

Starting at Left Back Row: Mark Orozco, Alexis Shrewsbury, Sheri Adams, Debbie Haverland, Amber Swope, Shelly Kingston, Karen Seifert.

On Friday, January 31, the Lincoln County School District (LCSD) Compass Center for Youth and Families hosted the first annual HELP Families Connect.

This event was strategically held on the same day as Project Homeless Connect so that families could access services from both events.

Jan. 31 was a non-school day. Over 110 children and their parents/guardians came through the Center and represented 47 families. Families received information about resources available to them in The Compass Center for Youth and Families.

Resources including school supplies, books, socks and hygiene items were provided during the event. Families were also encouraged to participate in their children’s educations by volunteering with LCSD.

“It has always been a desire to offer an event tailored to students and families that was similar to Project Homeless Connect providing information on services and distributing resources," HELP Program Coordinator Katey Townsend said. "Now that we have new space at the Compass Center for Youth & Families, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to launch HELP Families Connect.”

There was something for everyone at HELP Families Connect. To attend, the only requirement was that you had children or students. Many of the families that came were looking for more information on school district resources or to check out the Compass Center. The Homeless Education & Literacy Project (H.E.L.P.) Program is housed at the Compass Center and many families facing unstable housing came to the event.

“Since starting with the H.E.L.P. Program in 2010, I have seen a growing awareness in our community about the reality of student homelessness," Townsend said. "17 percent of our student population faced unstable or inadequate housing during the 2018-19 school year. Over the years the community has stepped up to provide and create critical resources for these families.

"Although there are still some gaps in services and not enough affordable housing, there are a lot of resources and programs we can guide families to in order to better their situation. Sometimes navigating the resources can be complicated or certain services are not on a family’s radar, but we are here to help!”

HELP Families Connect was spearheaded by Jutta Pearce, the Community Connections Coordinator and AmeriCorps with LCSD. She led a group of volunteers from Roby’s Furniture and Appliance and Toledo Foursquare Church’s youth group to assemble supply bags. She recruited community volunteers to help set up at the event and distribute items.

“Jutta has done an amazing job of bringing the community together to help others,” Townsend said. “She is also a major advocate for volunteerism in the schools and is paving the way for more parents and adults to get involved in supporting students’ education.”

Pearce said she was excited to see the community come in such large numbers to access resources here.

"We can continue to grow the resources and information available at The Compass Center with your help," Pearce said. "I am always available to help organizations or individuals learn more about partnering with LCSD to provide services for families.”

To learn more contact Jutta Pearce – LCSD Community Connections Coordinator – 541.574.9419 or jutta.pearce@lincoln.k12.or.us

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