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Erika Francks : Thriving Neighbors Initiative

Spring quarter is a busy, but exciting, time for the Thriving Neighbors Initiative. On top of our regular programs, we coordinate the SCU Day of Service, Family Engagement Day, a Mother’s Day celebration, a celebration for the participants of Camino a la Salud, and finally help with a Gala at Washington Elementary School to recognize the parents who are very involved with the school. Every week we are sitting down to start planning one event and running around town grabbing food and decorations for another.

Last week, we successfully put together our Mother’s Day celebration at Washington Elementary, complete with a mariachi band. This Friday, we have Family Engagement Day where students and parents from Washington Elementary get to visit SCU for a day and learn all about going to a University. Next week is our celebration for Camino a la Salud, which is the program where the mothers at Washington get together to exercise throughout the week. Two mothers, Juanita and Marlen, run the program. One of them leads walks a few times a week and the other teaches Zumba.

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In my last post I explained how I volunteered to teach yoga once a week for this program. At the beginning of this quarter, the mothers asked if I could teach it twice a week because it was really helping them stretch and relax. It was such a great feeling to know they actually enjoy the class even with my broken Spanish. I now teach yoga on Wednesdays and Fridays, and I have such a great time with the moms who come every week. My boss, Irene, told me at the beginning of this fellowship that the most important thing is for me to get to know the community, and now I understand the value in that. Santa Clara has a lot to offer the Washington community, but they have just as much to offer us if we take the time to get to know one another. I am extremely grateful for the time I’ve been able to spend building relationships with the mothers at WES through the Thriving Neighbors Initiative, and I’m hoping to continue teaching yoga next year!

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