In the News
> FCCIS of Wilkes is represented at Jekyll anniversary celebration
Amethyst Wynn and Alvin Jones represented Wilkes County as the Georgia Family Connection Partnership celebrated its 25th anniversary with a lineup of workshops and panel discussions on Jekyll Island earlier this month.
Subject matter titles discussed included:
- Mobilizing Communities Around Early Childhood,
- Merging Data with Story to Inspire Action,
- Enhancing Economic Vibrancy,
- Strengthening Communities Through Inclusion,
- Healthy Families – Healthy Communities,
- Collaborative Sustainability, and
- Georgia Family Connection Brand Training featuring a new logo.
During the conference, there were plenty of opportunities to strengthen existing relationships and forge new ones, to learn from and inspire each other, and to celebrate the anniversary.
"We are excited about the collaborative process of engaging new partners to help us shape Washington Wilkes’ future, where children and families thrive in a vibrant community," Jones and Wynn commented.
To become a partner and or provide resources for FCCIS of Wilkes, call 706-678-7570.
> Wilkes delegates at meeting hope to influence $1 million
At the invitation of Family Connection and Communities In Schools of Wilkes County (FCCIS), Washington Wilkes community leaders attended a community stakeholder meeting in Sandersville at the Oconee Fall Line Technical College. The meeting provided an opportunity for nine counties to share with the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL) staff about current initiatives and assets, in-kind resources, early care, and education successes and challenges, hoping to convince them to choose Zone 4 Central as a recipient of $1 million in federal funding through the Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge (ELC) grant to improve early learning and development in the state.
Wilkes Countians attending a meeting with DECAL staff members were (l-r) Myra Heath, Amethyst Wynn, Jane Echols, Sharon Williamson, Carolyn Reynolds, Ruby Avery, and (in back) Alvin Jones.
Georgia's total $51.7 million award will be used over a four-year period to fund projects that focus on improving services to Georgia’s children from birth to age five and their families. Georgia DECAL is tasked with administering the grant. One of the projects proposed in Georgia’s ELC application is the creation of four Early Education Empowerment Zones (E3Zs.) The four E3Zs will be selected based on data that indicate areas that have populations of children with high needs who are underserved and have community capacity and willingness to devote resources toward delivering services to help reduce the achievement gap.
The DECAL staff will work within the four selected zones to coordinate the delivery of state and local services to young children and their families, improve the quality of early care and education settings, and work with community partners to align the early education work with kindergarten-third grade initiatives. Innovative initiatives will be encouraged in the selected zones and over $1 million will be invested in each zone.
> FCCIS receives grant from Plum Creek
Jim Rundorff of the Plum Creek Foundation presents a check for $1,000 to FCCIS Executive Director Amethyst Wynn.The Family Connection and Communities In Schools of Wilkes County (FCCIS) has been awarded a $1,000 grant from the Plum Creek Foundation. Funds will support students at the Washington-Wilkes Elementary and Middle Schools.
"We recognize the mentoring, tutoring, and resource assistance provided by FC and CIS of Wilkes, through the Site Coordinator, Horace Jordan, and VISTA Volunteer, Ebony Ferrell, as assets to students and families in the Washington-Wilkes community," said Jim Rundorff, Senior Director of Land Asset Management for Plum Creek. "We are proud to play an important role in ensuring that these students will receive the ‘community of support’ they need to stay in school, graduate, and become successful, productive citizens."
The Plum Creek Foundation supports non-profit organizations that improve the overall quality of life in the communities where Plum Creek operates. The foundation board meets quarterly to review submitted grant applications. Visit www.plumcreek.com/communityinvolve- ment to download an application and learn more about the foundation grant program in addition to other ways that Plum Creek is serving its communities.
Plum Creek is one of the largest landowners in the nation and the most geographically diverse, with approximately 6.4 million acres of timberlands in major timber producing regions of the United States and wood products manufacturing facilities in the Northwest.
> Summer camp gives kids fun academic and recreational activities
Dorothy Jordan helps summer campers with their projects at the Booker Center. This year the Family Connection and Communities In Schools of Wilkes County (FCCIS) summer camp program was held during the month of July giving Washington- Wilkes children and youth an extended summer of fun academic and recreational activities. The program operated every weekday through July 26 at the Reese Booker Center from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m.
Along with Horace Jordan, coordinator, Wilhelmina Melonson camp supervisor, and veteran staffers, six young people from the FCCIS WIA-ORBIT program worked as staff assistants. The WIA-ORBIT youth coordinator and career coach is Dorothy Jordan.
The summer program enrollment was 155, with an average daily attendance of 135. A hundred students enjoyed a free lunch each day, along with other snacks and treats, such as the "kool," icy snow cones which helped combat the heat and humidity.
150 participants in the summer program enjoyed many activities like arts and crafts.Program activities included swimming (the smaller children enjoyed their own brand of water sports and splashing in a mini-figure-eight swimming pool), arts and crafts, supervised indoor and outdoor games, basketball workshops and games, reading and math workshops, bullying prevention, substance abuse prevention, health and wellness education, abstinence education, playtime (for the smaller children) at the Liberty Street park, drama, and dance.
The finale event on July 25, a cookout in the park for the children, youth, and families, included a special dance and drama presentation along with a bullying prevention skit. The arts and crafts projects were displayed for parents, family, and friends to view.
The summer camp program was funded by Family Connection and Communities In Schools of Wilkes County as a result of the assistance from the City of Washington and the Wilkes County Board of Commissioners. For further information, and to volunteer for FC and CIS of Wilkes programs and initiatives, call Amethyst Wynn at 706-678-7570.
Kids and young people of all ages reaped the benefits of the FCCIS of Wilkes summer program held throughout July.
> Wynn tells Kiwanis Club about functions of Wilkes Co. FC-CIS
WCFC-CIS Executive Director Amethyst Wynn spoke to the Washington Kiwanis Club last week. (Story and photo by RICHARD CRABBE)Amethyst Wynn, Executive Director of Wilkes County’s Family Connection and Communities in Schools, was the guest of the Washington Kiwanis last week. Wynn’s message to the club emphasized her organization’s committment to improving conditions and outcomes for children and families in Wilkes County in the areas of health, school readiness and school success, family stability and self-sufficiency and to surrounding students with a community of support, empowering them to stay in school and achieve in life.
She pointed out that all children need to continue toward high school graduation with attention and support from adult mentors, particularly parents. The mission of Communities in Schools is to surround students with a community of support, including one-on-one relationships with caring adults, and a safe place to learn and grow marketable skills to use upon graduation.
Wynn also highlighted the The JumpStart Program, a home-based early intervention and parent education program for high-risk families and their infants, up to 36 months. The program also promotes Parents As Teachers (PAT) – parent education, parent support/group connections, life skills, health, nutrition and wellness, adult education, family resource and referral, service coordination, and job training.
Finally, she described the highly successful Summer Day Camp program, which takes place in June and July. The camp serves nearly 200 children in one central location with supervised indoor and outdoor activities, swimming, scouting, and special life skills and enrichment projects such as woodworking, cooking, arts and crafts, drama, dance, music, and gardening. According to law enforcement officials, there has been no juvenile crime in the city during the months of summer camp throughout the 15-year summer camp history.
Sharon Williamson and Carolyn Reynolds, both Kiwanians, are on the WCCP Board of Directors.
> ORBIT Program helps young people find, keep employment
ORBIT OSY (Out-of-School Youth) Quintarious Hulin is receiving on-the-job training from Sherman Gartrell, owner/manager of The Data Stor.Of the many challenges confronting young people today, one is that often youth lack the skills they need to secure and keep employment. Family Connection and Communities In Schools of Wilkes County, provides youth initiatives and programming, through Workforce Investment Act (WIA) funds, to combat this problem.
The design of the FC and CIS of Wilkes ORBIT Program is to provide an efficient and effective system that assists youth in developing their employability and workplace skills. (ORBIT is an acronym for Organized, Responsible, Bright, Intelligent Teens.) To become eligible to participate in the WIA Youth Program, an applicant must meet certain criteria.
One of the services offered through the program is work experience. Young people are placed in an actual work situation that has career advancement potential. This experience helps the youth to develop good work habits and basic work skills. It affords the youth the opportunity to develop specific occupational skills, or to obtain specialized skills required by an individual employer.
This was the case with the ORBIT Out-of-School youth participant, Quintarious Hulin. Hulin received six months of work experience under the supervision of Sherman Gartrell, owner/manager of The Data Stor. As a result of Hulin’s work ethics, he has been hired as a full-time Computer Technician at the Data Stor downtown in Washington.
For further information about the program, and to volunteer as a mentor, tutor, or to become an employer, please contact the youth coordinator and career coach, Dorothy Jordan, at 706-678-4981. Youth participants are free to prospective employers. They simply need an environment to gain work experience.
> Middle schoolers learn that bullying can end tragically
Middle School students learned all about why bullying is not cool during an assembly coordinated by FC and CIS of Wilkes.Family Connection and Communities In Schools of Wilkes County (FC and CIS of Wilkes) presented a Bullying Prevention Assembly April 4 at the Washington-Wilkes Middle School. The presenters were from the East Central Georgia Consortium – Workforce Development (WIA) – One-Stop Program in Thomson. WIA – One-Stop Director Leon Fields, and Carrie Edwards, WIA Offenders Program Coordinator, led the students in the discovery of who is a "bully," and what is considered "bullying." They shared simple techniques students can use to stop bullying.
Through humor, real-life bullying stories, and student participation, the young people discovered having fun at someone else’s expense is actually the negative behavior of bullying, and can end tragically, sometimes resulting even in death. The presenters explained that bullying in school and bullying on the bus are "wrong," and can have life-long effects on both the victim and the bully.
Fields and Edwards delivered an engaging presentation that captured the attention of their audience, students, faculty, and administrators.
The CIS Model of integrated student services is being implemented comprehensively in the Washington- Wilkes Middle School, and is being developed in the W-W Elementary School under the auspices of Site Coordinator Horace Jordan. He is assisted by the FC and CIS of Wilkes VISTA Volunteer – Youth Strategies Coordinator, Ebony Ferrell.
The CIS Model is designed to get results by creating a community of support" for students. This is an evidence based model, adapted to meet each community’s unique needs, through a school-based coordinator, who strategically aligns and delivers needed resources so students can focus on learning. Communities In Schools was founded on five basics. Every child needs and deserves:
- A personal, one-on-one relationship with a caring adult.
- A safe place to learn and grow.
- A healthy start and a healthy future.
- A marketable skill to use upon graduation.
- A chance to give back to peers and community.
Volunteers, mentors, and tutors are needed, so please call 706-678-4981 for further information.
> Red Ribbon Week was fun; basketball teams get started
At W-WMS, we constantly emphasize the importance of remaining drug free, and try to integrate drug-free education into the curriculum as much as possible. Last week, we observed Red Ribbon Week, which was sponsored by Communities In Schools. The first Red Ribbon celebration was organized in l986 by an organization of parents concerned about the destruction caused by alcohol and drug abuse. The red ribbon was adopted as a symbol of the movement in honor of Enrique "Kiki" Camarena, an agent with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration who was kidnapped and killed while investigating drug traffickers. The campaign has reached millions of children and has been recognized by the U.S. Congress.
Students had a blast with the planned activities for Red Ribbon Week. They enjoyed wearing red (Tuesday) in recognition of the Red Ribbon symbolic color; getting tacky (Wednesday) because we believe that drugs are tacky; supporting their favorite college/pro team (Thursday) because we are teaming up against drugs; and wearing blue and gold (Friday) because Tigers are drug free.
The winners of the Red Ribbon Week poster contest were announced during the drug-free activities last week. We would like to thank all the students that participated in the contest. The judges had a difficult time in making their decisions. The winners are: honorable mention - Jacob Long, Hannah Moore, Akayla Barksdale, Markia Booker, Mikal Wells, and Tycoriah Danner; third place - Jamartay Doubilet, Azeriah Jenkins, Tatyanah Lane, Quin'shayla Hearst; second place - Ansley Renew, Taylor Guin, Marlen Gonzales; and first place - Alex Malone, Alyssa Holley, and Jasmine Johnson.
Congratulations to all the winners. Students received prizes that were donated by Communities In Schools and Mr. Horace Jordan.
> Cravens tells students to look beyond themselves for success
McDonald's co-owner Janie Cravens (center, facing camera) spoke to students in a recent CIS Career Explorations session.
The guest speaker for the October 30 Communities in Schools (CIS) Career Explorations session was Janie Cravens of Cravco, entrepreneur and co-owner of eight McDonald's restaurants.
She spoke to eighth graders about "the importance of looking beyond themselves to accomplish their goals in life" and spoke about job-hunting, specifically the job application and interview process.
Tamiya Lewis, an eighth-grade student, assisted with a demonstration on proper interview techniques. Time was allotted for Q&A with the students and other students volunteered to engage in the mock interviews. Student participants received a $5 McDonald's gift card donated by Family Connection and and CIS of Wilkes.
"These Career Explorations sessions are held monthly with various speakers from the community," said Amethyst Wynn. "The Family Connection and CIS of Wilkes County sponsors a CIS Site Coordinator, Horace Jordan, and VISTA Youth Strategies Coordinator, Ebony Ferrell. They have provided speakers from the community to speak to the youth about careers, employability skills, interviews, and educational pursuits."
The Career Explorations Class instructor is Casey Willis. The mission of Communities In Schools is to surround students with a community of support, empowering them to stay in school and achieve in life.
To foster collaboration among local agencies and organizations in order to achieve community-driven goals related to children and families
To foster a local collaborative decision-making process and identify resources to improve conditions and outcomes for children and families in Wilkes County in the areas of health, school readiness and school success, family stability and self-sufficiency and to surround students with a community of support, empowering them to stay in school and achieve in life.