Myrtle Collaboration: Weaving Community Bonds for Positive Impact to the St. Paul Family Life Education Center
By: Shauna Williams, St. Paul Family Life Education Center, Boise, ID
After the Multi- Faith Action Project (MAP) luncheon on May 19, 2023, which served as the inaugural event for the St. Paul Family Life Education Center, we were profoundly struck by the meaningful connections established within the community. The interactions with community members during this luncheon not only left a lasting impression, but also fueled our vision for potential collaborations in the future.
In August of the same year, a pivotal moment unfolded when we received an email from Amanda Mills, Strengthening Families Specialist with the Idaho Association of the Young Child. Amanda’s mother attended the MAP luncheon and was so impressed that she urged Amanda to explore opportunities for involvement with the St. Paul Family Life Education Center. Subsequent to our meeting, Amanda discovered with us a shared enthusiasm for the potential partnerships that could be forged between our organizations. Amanda proposed that the Idaho Association of the Young Child could collaborate with us on their programs, particularly HOPE (Healthy Outcomes from Positive Experiences). She expressed her commitment to providing training through our partnership with the City Light Women’s Shelter and outlined plans for collaboration on our Teen Outreach Program Seed of Hope. This envisioned collaboration included a book study titled “What Happened to You” and a class focusing on making healthy choices and cultivating positive experiences. The main goal of this partnership is to deliver programs that promote the overall well-being of families and children, especially those in need of positive experiences.
As our partnership with the Idaho Association of the Young Child continues to develop, September marked the beginning of a new collaboration. We launched a partnership with the Youth Services at the International Rescue Commission (IRC), focusing on high school students for tutoring and homework help at the St. Paul Family Life Education Center. This collaboration extends support to students whose families are in the 90-day process with the IRC, aiding them in learning to use city transportation from their high school to our center. This collaborative effort has been a mutually enriching process, allowing students at the center to work with dedicated tutors, utilize computer labs, and receive assistance with their homework needs. Witnessing the resilience and adaptability of these students as they navigate their new educational environment has been truly inspiring.
The collaboration with the IRC didn’t end there. In November, we expanded our engagement to include additional programs offered by the IRC, notably the 30-day transition program from Refugee to America. Looking ahead to February, the IRC plans to conduct their New American courses at our center. These courses will include practical elements such as cooking classes held in the center’s kitchen, with childcare services available during the classes. This initiative is specifically designed to support families in their transition to a new life in America.
Reflecting on the broader impact of the MAP project on our center, it’s clear that the initiative has been transformative. It served as a catalyst for the community to recognize the potential alignment of their programs with the goals of the St. Paul Family Life Education Center. Our overarching objective is to provide assistance to community members, both established and new, fostering the development of strong families and individuals in the process. The MAP project has endowed us with a supportive community to turn to for assistance, volunteers, and potential partnerships.
In essence, the journey from our luncheon in May to our current collaborative endeavors represents a tapestry of community engagement, shared visions, and meaningful connections. It underscores the profound impact that strategic partnerships can have on an organization’s ability to fulfill its mission and positively impact the lives of those it serves. As we move forward, the St. Paul Family Life Education Center is poised to continue growing and evolving, driven by the collective strength of its partnerships and the unwavering support of the community it serves.