Hello, my name is Jennifer Harte and I am an AmeriCorps VISTA serving with the Prescott Unified School District. My position as the Family Services Coordinator for the district’s Family Resource Center (FRC) has been very rewarding so far. The FRC has only been open for about a year now, so I have been able to help the space grow while also being able to help families get what they need.
I came into the position after the FRC was open only a few months, so I wanted to do local research to make sure I could help it function to the best of its ability. The main goal of the center is to get our families the resources they need to make sure their children stay in school, despite hardships they may face. This includes providing clothing, school supplies and hygiene products.
After visiting other resource centers around Arizona, I wanted to bring more to the FRC by providing workshops and collaborative events for families and community members. I set up the Shop with a Ranger program; Arizona Rangers personally take families shopping for the clothes they need. I also have partnered with multiple organizations to provide resources to our families that the district can’t supply. Establishing community relations for the FRC is not only vital to keep it up and running, but is also an important way to make the community aware of the hardships families in our communities face.
During the holidays I coordinated our First Annual Family Resource Fair where families could pick up free Christmas presents for their children while also talking to tabling organizations like the Goodwill Career Center, Yavapai County Community Health Services, and various after-school programs.
Most of the contact I have is with low income or homeless families, who I have been able to help in a variety of ways. Being able to make the process of going to school easier for these kids has really been the best part of my position so far. About 50 families have been qualified homeless since the beginning of the 2016 school year, but keeping them enrolled in school is the responsibility of everyone in a community. Every child deserves the opportunity to be educated to their full potential.