This month, we hosted our 6th Annual Bellevue Back to School Bash in partnership with MPD's Beat the Street and the William O Lockridge/Bellevue Library. With the help of sponsors, partners, and volunteers, we were able to give 1,232 backpacks filled with school supplies to K-12 students in the Ward 7 and Ward 8 community. Thank you to Gallup, Forrester Construction, The Carlyle Group, National Air Traffic Controllers and so many more. Students were also able to receive free health care screenings, haircuts from our amazing Mr. Wallace Wilson and his barber friends, and other resources to help them prepare for a new school year.
This event makes an end-of-summer highlight for many of our neighbors, but for many of our housing clients, it means so much more. Take for example families from our permanent supportive housing who have previously struggled with chronic homelessness. Families find this annual event to be a fun day to celebrate community. It is an opportunity to reconnect with familiar faces and access all the resources needed for a successful start to a new school year; things like backpacks filled with supplies, or simple words of encouragement like “have a great school year” from a case manager or a volunteer. These families really benefit from and appreciate events like the Back to School Bash and continue to remind us of just how powerful HOPE can be.
“A pencil may seem small, but needing to ask to borrow one every single day can be embarrassing for a student,” said Shannon Slowey, Team Coordinator of our Permanent Supportive Housing Program. Shannon explains that events like the Back to School Bash are essential in promoting positive academic outcomes for low-income and homeless students in our community. “By providing children with school supplies and backpacks, we are giving them the tools need for learning, while helping set a positive tone for the entire academic year.” So it was no surprise that Shannon was all smiles when she saw one of her families at the event. Three years ago, after a chronic illness impacted her ability to work and pay rent, client, Donna Coleman, along with her daughter and four grandchildren, entered the Home Now program.
They attended the Back to School Bash to make sure they were able to get the supplies they needed for school. When mom saw how much fun the children were having, she decided to stay and join in on the festivities of the day. The children became so inspired, that they even helped hand out backpacks to the other children.
“A lack of access to school supplies not only hinders a child's ability to complete work and learn, but it can negatively impact a child's self-esteem, said Shannon. Starting the year off with a fresh haircut and a backpack full of supplies helps boost confidence and excitement to learn. The Back to School Bash brings together school readiness, fun, and community engagement, which sets the tone for a positive academic year. The pride and joy on these children's faces says it all!”
If you would like to see more pictures from this fun-filled day, please visit our Facebook page