SouthSide is committed to parent and family involvement and volunteerism! Read more about how we use the new SouthSide Store to increase family involvement in all kinds of activities at the center. Thanks to Sarah Caldera Wimmer, our Family & Community Services Manager, for contributing this blog – and most of all, for all of her great work with families!
A tower of school uniforms, baby clothes and packages of underwear teeters under the weight of a blue toy truck, as SouthSide parent, Kenny, reaches for his wallet. “That’s 16 credits, not dollars,” Molly Duncan explains, as she and Carolyn Cotta, both SouthSide Board members, reach to help pack the goods into bags. Kenny puts his wallet away. “This is really great what you are all doing here. I needed to buy most of these items anyway, so you just saved me a trip to the store and some cash!”
Every month, families shop in the conference room which is converted into a mercantile of kids’ clothing, housewares, games and diapers. There is no money involved; the currency is simple – participation. Families earn credit by investing time into the program. Attending meetings and workshops, volunteering, returning forms, and good attendance are all examples of their ‘investment.’
Some parents, such as newly single mom Edy, plan a schedule of volunteer hours of data entry, organizing the laundry room and proofreading recipes for the SouthSide cookbook (stay tuned for more news about this!), to earn access to more store items and necessities such as diapers and clothing, for her two young sons. Others wander in and are excited to discover that they have been silently stashing points through just being part of the program!
Whether planned or a surprise, six months after its launch, the SouthSide Store is quickly gaining popularity. The store was born out of the necessity to create value for the time parents invest in their child’s education. By creating multiple channels for involvement, parents are able to start as simply as completing a survey, or dive in head first by organizing the laundry room! And it’s working- there has been a record number of parent volunteers, participating in everything from helping serve breakfast, to watering the garden, to stuffing envelopes for the Summer Soiree. The goal is that families increase their overall involvement, because our experience is that families who feel more connected to their child’s school are more likely to be more involved in their child’s education, have better communication with the teachers, and feel a shared ownership for SouthSide!
The store is just a starting point, a small reward for the time parents do spend; however, the real reward is the sense of community that is being built as we all work together for the wellbeing of our children.
If you are interested in donating items for the SouthSide Store, please click here to see our wishlist. Currently, our most popular items are socks, underwear and school uniforms.