Update on the Russell School Local Initiative by Nancy Zollers

The Union Church partnership

with Russell Elementary School in Dorchester.

You absolutely did the right thing, Union Church Congregation, to decide to partner with the Russell School.

Please come on Sunday, November 16th after church to learn more!

If you are new, or not, there are ways for you to be a part of this local mission work. If you want to impact schools with other folks from your church there is room for you; a place that you can join in your way.

To briefly update you: Since December 2011, many Union Church folks have worked with staff, parents, and students to support the mission of this terrific school, a school with many needs and clear strengths. This mission activity is an outgrowth of a yearlong book group conversation on violence and prisons and urban youth.

This partnership at Union Church is called our mission local initiative and it shares the same principles of our mission work in Nicaragua and Zambia – The work must be,

  • Sustainable
  • Relationship-based
  • High impact work
  • Justice/charity promoting

We are just getting started in some ways, while we have embedded ourselves in the Russell School for three years. So we are hoping you feel you can join us. Perhaps a glimpse into our activities will encourage you to know if your participation with the 20+ of us, already engaged, is the church mission work you want to try.

In response to the school needs we have participated in many things that we mention briefly here, including:

1. Funding and joining literacy and math nights where parents learn homework strategies to help their children

2. Creating and staffing an after school Computer Coding Club

3. Tuition support for boys attending a formative summer camp

4. Volunteering at all-school Field Day and Ropes Course

5. Participating in Coat Drive where every child and siblings receive warm, new coats

6. Pledge to fundraise to save the music program cancelled due to (over)

budget cuts And much more…

More to the point of this update – – – what do you want to know about this work in order to get involved at the school and with the families, and to know that your gifts can help us all plan what to do going forward? Just know, you are welcome in this.

Thursday evening, October 30th, we joined over 50 parents and more than 60 of their children for a parent council meeting! Because Union Church offered to support childcare and pizza the turnout was unprecedented and exceeded any other parent council meeting by dozens!

We partner with City Mission Society and others. You may recall June Cooper, Principal Tamara Blake and Carmen Rodriguez meeting with us at our church last year. The work is currently funded by the Capital Campaign.

Opportunities are always available for tutoring and other volunteer work within the school. And, parents have asked us to talk with them about how to be the best advocates for their children. Do you have experience helping your child at school?

They want to organize as families, teachers and community to describe the extraordinary needs of Boston schools and challenge the deep, ongoing budget cuts. Do you have ideas for organizing?

We will throw a celebratory party on Nov 14th from 3-5 as we join City Mission Society in distributing warm coats to every child. Can you join us?

We will need to collaboratively and creatively fundraise in various ways with Russell to keep the music program alive for Russell students. And they need field trip funds to support the social studies curriculum. Can you write grants? Do you have ideas for raising funds?

We will bring our own kids to Movie Night at Russell on Jan 16th to watch a film and eat popcorn together.

Any chance you can join us to plan these any other exciting ideas you have or is there an opportunity for you to engage in an activity at Russell on a one-time or more basis?

See you at the next meeting, Nov. 16th or see Frank, Nancy, Mark, or Brita,