Normally, the team of Teachers, Chaperones and Ambassadors jumps into action upon our return to the US at the end of February. Ambassadors share stories at each of the local elementary schools and the Information Night for prospective applicants & their families. The Teachers & Chaperones assemble notes and feedback to the Board and help set up the next team of teachers for success right away with a new program year starting March & April. However, March 2020 had different ideas in store. With the shut down due to the pandemic we moved into a wait and see mode for our Spring activities, and instead of seeing teammates in the hallways we had virtual meet-ups here and there.
It's hard to believe it's almost been a year since our trip in February 2020! Tonight, we got together for our official Reunion virtually. Our team received care packages on their doorstep this afternoon; perhaps with a little nostalgia for pizza takeout in Wellington and Queenstown? The candy & drinks packed in were our favorites here, but we wish we could have been having our favorite New Zealand crunchies, L&P, and more. In honor of our field trip panning for gold in New Zealand, we worked through a Gold Rush Adventure with The Escape Game Remote Adventures company... luckily both teams made it out! A fun reminder of just how valuable every member of this team was back on our trip. It takes all different strengths & personalities to travel as a team. Not only did we all bring value, but we all grew in different ways from this experience too. Afterward, we gathered virtually to reminisce and catch up. We remembered funny little moments, hugging cows on Farm Day, food we tried, overcoming fears on zip lines and planes, and so much more. Since our return, some of us have moved or remodeled! Some of us got new pets, hobbies or hair styles! Some of us look forward to returning to classrooms, going to concerts, and sports; of course, many of us miss traveling!
THANK YOU to our families and community members who supported our fundraising, the MCOW Board's leadership and guidance, the incredible people of James Hargest, and... most of all our host families in Invercargill. We miss you all!
Our February 2020 exchange trip was a memory we will never forget!
Meeker Citizens of the World 2019-2020 Ambassador Team
Mrs. Eklof & Mrs. Hausman - Teachers
Liz Sawyer & Pam Kikillus - Chaperones
Ashley, Aspen, Ava, Audra, Ben, Julia, Lavinia, Owen, Ray, Ryder - Ambassadors
Northeast Tacoma Healthy Kids Coalition started as one woman’s desire to feed the children at Browns Point Elementary who were hungry on weekends. Now, Jewel Ocariz is one of an incredible team of individuals who lead this not for profit organization bursting with activity! What once only served 6 children at one school is now a partnership among the Northeast Tacoma three elementary schools (Browns Point Elementary, Northeast Tacoma Elementary, and Crescent Heights Elementary) and the middle school (Meeker Middle School).
Each year, our MCOW Student Ambassadors complete a service project as a team within our local community supporting various organizations in Northeast Tacoma. Several times our service projects have included hours packing food with the Coalition. With Covid impacting our community, Meeker Citizens of the World does not have Student Ambassadors completing service projects and a need for donations ourselves has diminished temporarily. At the December MCOW Board meeting, we unanimously agreed to take this opportunity to give back. First, in honor of the ongoing support of MCOW by the Meeker Middle School music program to all those welcome assemblies over the years, we provided tubs of essential food and household items through the program coordinated by the music department for years serving the Hilltop Community. Second, we reached out to the Coalition for their most urgent needs and how we could best support them.
The MCOW Board delivered these urgently needed items today so they can round out the full kits they will start distributing again this week. We learned the Northeast Tacoma Healthy Kids Coalition has seen their need substantially increase both during Covid and with the closure of the local NE Tacoma food bank. They are now serving 273 students. (That number does not include those students siblings. Though, due to generosity of the community they were able to serve students and their siblings through the recent holiday gift distribution.) We are sharing their hope for an extension to come for the incredible farm to table refrigerated truck distribution they were able to provide in part of 2020. This bi-weekly drive-thru service to these families went beyond the usual non-perishable goods distributed. Regardless if the farm to table portion of the program comes through again, they will continue providing upwards of $3500 worth of nonperishable food to the students of Northeast Tacoma every month. They do this entirely through donations.
We honor the tremendous value and critical pivoting with Covid restrictions this organization has demonstrated in 2020. We look forward to returning to the days of coordinating our Student Ambassadors service projects with organizations like the Northeast Tacoma Healthy Kids Coalition! Our next MCOW program year begins soon; please stay tuned for more announcements and updates.