Seattle CARES Mentoring Movement

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Wellness Circles offer a safe place for women to speak out

Eight years ago, Tigest Beyene’s life hung in the balance — literally. After she broke up with her boyfriend of three years, he began to harass her. The situation got increasingly worse. In September 2013, he chased her down in his car, shot her in the stomach and then turned the gun on himself.

The former Highline High School graduate recovered physically and today she is the mother of two girls. Recently, a guidance counselor at her daughter’s school recommended she join a Community Wellness Circle, a program for parents, especially moms and female caregivers, sponsored by Seattle CARES and funded through King County’s Positive Family Connections.

“The teacher thought I would fit in,” she said, “and he sent me information on the program. I truly feel blessed to be part of such a strong group of women. My life has changed for the better. I am more aware of who I am and who I am becoming.”

Community Wellness Circles provide a safe healing space for parents. The program focuses on teaching the building blocks that make up a healthy quality life, emphasizing parenting, conflict-resolution and empowerment skills. Facilitators also provide connections for services for adults who may be experiencing food and housing insecurities, have health care issues, or need computers or other tech assistance.

Beyene appreciates how other women in the group listen to her, provide helpful comments and share their own experiences. ”The most valuable part of the Wellness Circle is the incredible women,” she said. “There is no judgment; it’s a safe zone. It reminds me that I am not alone.”

By participating, she has learned how to better manage stress and be a better parent to her daughters. She also has learned how to better manage her money. She is now saving to buy a home.

“The meetings help me be more self-aware, enjoy myself and laugh more with my kids,” she said. “My favorite part is when we get into our group sessions and we get to express about our day. This has really helped me be a better listener and have more patience, even at work.”

New webinar series “Voices for Change” launches January 25 with speaker Fonda Bryant

“Voices for Change,” a new six-month online series from Seattle CARES, launches this month. January’s speaker is Fonda Bryant, a nationally recognized expert on mental wellness and recovery. Her virtual presentation will be on Tuesday, January 25, 2022, from 6 p.m. – 7 p.m.

Bryant has appeared on television, in newspapers and magazines, and on the radio speaking about mental health and her transformative suicide prevention training. Last year, she trained more than 1,000 people from 25 states and five countries in ways to recognize a person in crisis and how to save a life.  In 2021, she was named the 2021 Remarkable Woman of Charlotte (N.C.) and also won Nexstar’s National Remarkable Woman for her work with mental health and suicide prevention.

“Voices for Change” augments one of Seattle CARES’ signature programs — Wellness Community Circles — which helps Black families, particularly those led by single women, improve their relationship with their children and provides a safe space where adults who want to parent more effectively can de-stress, share challenges and work on healing themselves.

Every month through June, the series will welcome speakers on a variety of topics to help the community navigate our challenging lives and our changing communities.  The online series is supported by King County’s Positive Family Connections.

For more information or to register for this event, contact dcameron@seattlecaresmentoring.org.

Positive Family Connections offers online digital literacy class

Life is full of changes for children, youth and families. It’s been made even more challenging with the arrival of the pandemic in early 2020. COVID-19 has greatly impacted the health and economic well being of our community.

Through Positive Family Connections, funded by King County Best Starts for Kids, Seattle CARES offers support services to women, most of whom are single mothers or guardians of children participating in The Rising. Through Wellness Circles, we offer a space where moms can de-stress, share problems and work on healing themselves. CARES-trained facilitators emphasize positive parenting skills, conflict-resolution and empowerment skills.

A new pilot program that began this fall increases services to our families. We are now offering an online digital literacy class where parents can learn how to navigate the web, download software, and find, use and create information online. The class is part of University for Parents and is being offered in partnership with Atlanta CARES. More classes will be offered next year, based on parent requests.

By strengthening the family through education and professional literacy, Positive Family Connections can improve relationships between youth and their parents or guardians.

We’ll be sharing more stories about Positive Family Connections in upcoming posts. Stay tuned!

Liberated Village creates positive school environments for students

Seattle CARES is one of 30 community organizations participating in The Liberated Village, working together to implement innovative, anti-racist, trauma-informed and restorative practices across 55 schools in 10 school districts.

The Liberated Village brings together students, families, teachers, school districts, community-based organizations and local government. To keep everyone engaged and informed, a new website created by and for Black, Indigenous and people of color, was launched this fall.

“It’s the idea that it takes a village, working as one, to help children and youth succeed,” said Don Cameron, executive director of Seattle CARES Mentoring Movement.

The partnerships are driving transformative change and helping dismantle inequity in the schools. By implementing practices that promote community-centered solutions,  Seattle CARES and the other partners can address the impact of racial trauma and systemic racism on our community. The Liberated Village is sponsored by King County’s Best Starts for Kids.

Rising scholars brief city and county council members

It’s not often that middle school students have the chance to brief a group of politicians. But it happened in June when Rising scholars from Denny International and Meany middle schools met with Seattle and King County council members. Each school prepared a colorful and thoughtful PowerPoint presentation.

A total of 17 Meany scholars participated while the 19 scholars from Denny International were led by Principal Jeff Clark and Mawiayah Fields, Vice Principal.  Representatives from Seattle CARES also attended.

Seattle City Councilmembers who attended the briefings or whose offices sent a representative were: Lorena Gonzalez, Andrew Lewis, Tammy Morales and Teresa Mosqueda. King County Council member Girmay Zahilay, who represents District 2, was also in attendance.

In their presentations, the students focused on four key issues important to their future: public safety, homelessness, health communities and innovative schools. As one young scholar told the city and county council members: “Public safety is something we need to correct and something that needs to build trust among the community and the people that protect the people in it.”

At the end of both presentations, the scholars asked the representatives to provide better resources for homeless neighbors and direct more funding to community resources so police altercations could be avoided. They requested improved training for police and more programs to support youth rather than turning to incarceration. All the students wanted to see more innovative schools.

The Rising program, now in its fourth year, is sponsored by King County Best Starts for Kids. It prepares youth from high-poverty families to succeed in school and life. Educators and trained volunteers focus on cultivating cultural pride and high self-esteem, critical-thinking skills and a love of learning.

The program brings results. In a study carried out in 2020, 83 percent of Rising scholars saw increased racial identify and pride, and 92 percent reported increased self-confidence.