Photo by Nanci Hutson.
Originally Published: August 8, 2017 6 a.m.
In a rectangular room one flight above the Washington Traditional School gymnasium — the former historic elementary school that is now home to Prescott Unified School District’s Discovery Gardens pre-school and future central office complex — crates and tables are overflowing with crayons, notebook paper, glue sticks, flash drives, and any other supplies a child might need to start off the school year.
A nearby couch is full of new backpacks.
And everything is a donation.
The seemingly chaotic space is soon to be the new home to the district’s now 2-year-old Family Resource Center, relocated from its former room at the Taylor Hicks Elementary School.
The centrally located center — the main entrance will be from North Pleasant Street off East Gurley Street — is intended to be a place where low-income families, or families with any kind of need, can come and get school supplies, clothing, hygiene products, and other resources essential to fulfilling the district’s motto: “Every Child, Every Day,” or as school leaders added, “Every Family, Every Day.”
Throughout the year, the center will be a meeting place for families who wish to attend child-centered workshops, or who might need advice on where to go to get other needed services for their students. The center’s coordinator this year, Rebecca Wood, an AmeriCorps Vista worker, hopes to get some donated computers to set up in the center for families use to keep in touch with their children’s school progress and school activities or to seek out whatever resources they might require to benefit their families.
At this time, with the move not yet complete, Wood said the center will be open by appointment only, but she hopes by next month to have established officer hours. She wants parents to feel free to come with their children to pick up supplies or needed clothing, or a voucher to buy a new pair of shoes. She wants them to know she is available for any assistance they require related to their child’s educational experience, be it practical or if they simply need someone to listen and help them sort out where they go next.
“The Family Resource Center has partnerships with other agencies,” said Katan, noting alliances with such places as the Coalition for Compassion and Justice, First Things First, the Launch Pad Teen Center and others.
The premise behind the center is that it is more than a physical space, it is a program with a mission to do what it takes to help any child with a need, said Federal Programs Director Paul Katan, who with his staff oversees the center’s operation. At a time when many families are living paycheck-to-paycheck, with housing, food and basic necessities taking most of their income, Katan said this center can help fill in the gaps. Some families are referred to the center by teachers or administrators, but a referral is not required. Any PUSD family is eligible to use the center, Katan noted.
“This is intended to be a one-stop shop for Prescott kids to make sure they succeed,” Katan said, noting the center can also refer to other nonprofit agencies that might prove beneficial to families.
The center last year provided help to 240 students.
Wood, an Arizona State University graduate, is excited to be spending her year as the coordinator because it enables her to give back to a community in the state that she said “has given so much to me.”
To donate, volunteer, or for more information, call Wood at 928-830-7658.