Family Food Boxes: Feed a Family for Two Weeks

food boxes picture

During school holidays, especially those of significant length, many families who typically rely on free and reduced school meals struggle to afford the additional food bills when their children are home during break. 19 NORTH wants to meet this need, and created a program called Family Food Boxes. Within each box, we provide enough food (23 items) to feed one family for two weeks. Each holiday we hope to fill as many boxes as possible, and would love your help. Each box should include:

5 cans (15 oz) green vegetables

1 plastic bottle (20 oz) jelly

1 plastic jar (28 oz) peanut butter

2 cans (26 oz) chicken noodle soup

1 bag (4 lb) dry pinto beans

1 bag (5 lb) white rice

2 boxes (12 oz) macaroni and cheese

2 cans (12 oz) chicken or tuna

5 cans (15 oz) mixed fruit

1 can (26.5 oz) spaghetti sauce

2 boxes (1 lb) spaghetti noodles

If you are interested in donating for future holiday breaks, contact Shannon McBride at Open Door Fellowship Church, 8301 N. 19th Avenue, Phoenix AZ 85021. 602-677-7797.

Movie Night! Enjoying Our Safe, Walkable Community

By Julie Meyer Taylor

IMG_6314 (1)On October 8, 2016, my family attended Movie Night in Royal Palm Park. Two of my boys rode on skateboards, one wore roller blades, and I walked behind them carrying a huge blanket and yelling out safety warnings. “Watch out for cars! Stay on the sidewalk!” After half a mile, we arrived at the park, located at Butler and 15th Avenue.

As I was scoping out the field looking for the perfect spot, I ran into an old friend from high school and noticed many other familiar faces. The sky was a beautiful, cloud-filled pink. In the middle of the park was a large white movie screen, and everyone was setting up lawn chairs and unpacking coolers. I put our blanket down in the grass, and we used the skateboards and helmets to save spaces for our friends.

My boys were hungry, but I didn’t want to leave our stuff unattended, so I gave them money and let them walk over to the food trucks in the parking lot. “Stay together! Bring me back my change!” I said. “Okay, Mom!” they replied.

About ten minutes later, I looked up and saw a policeman walking toward me. He was smiling and holding my 11-year-old’s green rollerblades. My son was walking in front of him, looking amused, but also slightly guilty. He was balancing his Dr. Pepper, grilled cheese sandwich, a wad of dollars, and a pile of napkins in his arms. I smiled at the police officer, “Thanks for helping him!” I said. “No problem!” he answered.

My husband and friends arrived, the sun went down, and we relaxed with the neighborhood ants and watched “The Princess Bride.” Well, at least I did. About fifty yards from the screen, my boys found friends and an empty expanse of grass. Instead of watching the movie, they played rugby. “Play touch! Don’t play tackle! No injuries!” I warned.

While the movie played, I sat next to my neighbor’s daughters (ages 4 and 6) who provided hilarious and adorable commentary. “Fezzik is kind of a bad guy, but he offers a lot of grace. He gives his enemies lots of chances before he kills them.” And later, “I don’t like that big rat.”

The movie shut off a few times, and each time the audience let out a collective groan. It was like we were in an old-time movie theater. I imagined Hilary Rusk sitting in the back, pasting the newsreel back together. Each time the movie turned back on, the audience cheered with joy. 

It was a beautiful, entertaining night in the park. Thank you to Hilary Rusk and the Royal Palm neighborhood for making our home feel like a small town. Thank you to the local police for making it feel safe. Thank you to the food trucks for providing a variety of food options. Thank you to the the volunteers who helped make the evening enjoyable. Movie Night was a great success. I can’t wait for the next one.

Faith and Community Leaders Take Bus Tour of Local Schools and Neighborhoods

By Julie  Meyer Taylor

faith ride

On September 22, 2016, 15 leaders of the community, including leaders from seven churches (Open Door Fellowship, Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church, United Methodist Church, Royal Palm Baptist Church, Desert Christian Fellowship Church, Beatitudes Campus, and Palms Bible Fellowship Church), boarded a mini bus together to take a tour of the schools, neighborhoods, and communities within the 19 North boundaries (Montebello to Dunlap, from 15th Avenue to 23rd Avenue).

The idea for the tour arose during a meeting of the 19 North Interfaith Council, in which members discussed the need for a firsthand view and more insight into the communities they serve. The council suggested the tour to Councilman Daniel Valenzuela, who agreed to attend, and who also invited various local leaders to come along for the ride.

Councilman Valenzuela drove the bus, and shared his vision for economic development, as well as his hope for strengthening and supporting students. Lt. Charlie Consolian, Phoenix Police Department, offered his perspective as a police officer and suggested ways to help the community. He also emphasized the great need for positive mentors in the students’ lives. (If you are interested in becoming a mentor, please contact shannon.mcbride@odfchurch.org.) Lisa Hubbard, Neighborhood Services, discussed how important it is for everyone to play a part in neighborhood improvement. She encouraged the leaders to influence community members to make calls when they see graffiti or blight (cite page number/section for phone numbers) and to work together to make their neighborhoods safer.

The tour stopped at four schools in the area (Maryland Elementary, Royal Palm School/Arizona Cardinals Preparatory Academy, Richard E Miller Elementary, and Orangewood Elementary), and drove through the surrounding neighborhoods. Paul Stanton, Superintendent of the Washington Elementary School District (WESD), and Jill Hicks, Director of Communications and Public Engagement for WESD, shared some of the demographics for each of the schools and also discussed the unique strengths and needs of each school. David Marz, Pastor of Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church, said, “As we learned the needs and opportunities of our neighborhood, each stop provided an opportunity for us to specifically pray for teachers, students, and families of that community.”

This bus tour was a unique opportunity for faith and community leaders to come together. By sharing their individual perspectives, and viewing their common concerns, each leader was empowered in their efforts to better understand, lead, and serve their communities.

Washington High School Dreams Big, and Succeeds

By Julie Meyer Taylor

When  describing the population of her campus, Principal Tami Strege, recalled the time she found herself sitting at a table in the English Language Learner (ELL) classroom with two students who spoke Arabic, one who spoke Swahili, and one who spoke Nepali. Washington High School hosts a diverse population of students: 19 different languages are represented, and of the 1700+ students who attend, 81% are minorities.

Ms. Strege has been the principal at Washington High School (WHS) for more than three years, and has worked in the district for 24 years. She is extremely proud of her staff and students, and was thankful for the opportunity to brag about them.

WHS has 50 different after-school clubs and activities in which students can be involved. One club is the Interact Club, which is sponsored by the Rotary Club and focuses on community service. Approximately 300 kids are involved. The club’s activities have included reading to children in homeless shelters, helping in food kitchens, and picking up trash in various settings. Recently, the club visited the residents of the Beatitudes Campus and taught them how to use Facebook.

Ms. Strege says her staff is “completely invested” and described how she kindly scolds teachers when she finds them in their desks past 5:30. In addition to teaching academics, the teachers at WHS aim to provide students with emotional support and life planning skills which some students may not receive in their home environments.

The dedication of Ms. Strege and her staff is paying off. Washington High School is an A+ School of Excellence, as deemed by the Arizona Educational Foundation. Based on statistics of previous years, it is predicted that 85-90 percent of all WHS freshman will complete their high school education and graduate. WHS and its students have received many scholarships and awards of excellence. WHS has also received recognition from Newsweek and U.S. News and World Report as being one of the top high schools in Arizona.

“We are dreaming bigger than the kids dream for themselves,” said Ms. Strege. Their strategy appears to be working.