With the support of its community and multiple partners, Falk Elementary School has been hard at work to launch the Falk Family Resource Center. The center was created to serve Falk students and their families by providing access to various resources right at the school.
The resource center provides families with food, clothing, computer access, assistance with job searches and more. Falk has become the center of the community and organizations surrounding the school have played an integral role in the success of this resource center.
Sarah Hall, Falk School Social Worker, has been at the core of coordinating this community effort and the combined support brought this idea to fruition. She heard the needs from her school community and knew that she had to figure out a new solution to help the families she serves. “Last year families would come in and say that there are no options for them,” says Sarah, which is a large reason why this effort was essential for the school and community.
"Sarah is clearly building the program and thinking about the needs outside of the school walls. We are excited about what she is building here. It takes work to build partnerships and she does it very well." – Miranda Hassett-St. Dunstan’s Church
The partnerships created through this process are a true example of how having a shared vision brings forth excellent collaboration and produces results that yield great benefits for families. “Our partnerships are really strong and we do more working together than we would working independently,” says Sarah.
A strong collaboration among many community organizations made this program possible. Including but not limited to the following: Balance & Believe Foundation, CUNA Mutual, Animal Crackers, Wisconsin Youth Company, Theresa Terrace Neighborhood Center, Greentree neighborhood, Second Harvest Foodbank, Community Action Coalition, St. Dunstan’s Church, Attic Angel Community, Hy-Vee, Peter Miller at UW, Orchard Ridge United Church of Christ and Our Redeemer Church. The Foundation for Madison’s Public Schools has also supported Falk and the Family Resource Center by helping Falk to establish Adopt-a-School partnerships with Attic Angel, Blackhawk Church, CUNA Mutual Group, and St. Dunstan’s.
"We are happy that we were asked to be the fiscal agent for the pantry and to be a part of the behind the scenes work. Since our organization center is so small, this was the first step in really serving our community. We want to continue making steps like that." – Jennifer Weber-Wisconsin Youth Company
The partnerships mentioned above support this community and school resource by recruiting volunteers to assist with the pantry, collecting food and monetary donations, and coordinating fundraising and deliveries from food banks. Partnerships have made it easy for Sarah to request items that she needs for the pantry. Second Harvest, in particular has assisted with easy online product selection, “I just have to go online and pick out the items I want, they make it really easy to get what we need.” Second Harvest has also been a great resource in helping leverage the financial contributions of other partners.
The resource center launched the first day of school and is open to all Falk families. It’s open twice a week and in the evenings at open school house nights. The pantry is typically stocked with fresh meat and produce, boxed and canned goods, as well as hygiene products.
The pantry is run by Falk staff and families, partner organizations and volunteers who perform a variety of tasks such as picking up items, collecting donations, organizing the pantry room, folding donated clothes and other duties. Many of the items are replenished every week or every other week thanks to the generosity of partners.
" I hope that this is a place where families can come and feel comfortable and know that whatever need they have can be met. It is really exciting to be changing what we are doing to really be meeting the needs of the families." – Sarah Hall
Without a doubt, the Falk Resource Center is strengthening the community through its deep desire to provide families a safe place to access resources when needed. Sarah has seen families support each other by offering to help one another if needed. The relationships developed with partnerships will extend beyond the support of the resource center. These relationships will continue to bring together the community and the school.
" It is so great that our partners are willing to be flexible and work with us." – Sarah Hall