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Review for Northwest Family Services, Portland, OR, USA

Rating: 5 stars  

For students, connecting with school and friends this year has been harder than ever. One student we were working with before and during the pandemic was really struggling to get connected with online school. When he was at school in person, he faced intense anxiety about being at school and dealt with bullying regularly. We thought he might thrive with online classes instead, but it seemed the complete isolation was too much. Teachers and school staff were struggling to reach out to this student, but through our already established connections with him, we were able to start weekly phone call check ins. We found out he was feeling very lonely, so we got him connected to our virtual after school offering of Gardiner Gatherings and GO for Gardiner Middle School Students. These clubs focused on helping students develop healthy self-care habits, and also we gave students the opportunity to be creative and help others. The students in the club wrote hopeful and inspiring poems. They made graphic art to share the poems and we made them into magnets, buttons, posters and flyers to give to Clackamas Behavioral Health clinics and to the counselors at Gardiner to give to struggling students during porch visits. This student felt really great about this since he struggles with his own mental health but also really cares about supporting others.
In the Spring, we started offering an in person weekly Hiking Club to walk a three-mile loop with students around the Clackamas River. This student’s family felt better about having him join a small outdoor group rather so he got to join! He was both excited and nervous to be in person meeting other students. He got along really well with the students and started making friends easily, which he felt he struggled with before. He was so excited about getting out and hiking, that he asked his parents for hiking shoes for his birthday. While he was making new friends and getting some exercise, he also started getting more focused on school. One day after hiking club, he asked me if I could help him find a tutor to get his grades up and catch up on school work. In a check in, he said he wanted to “pass eighth grade if it’s the last thing I do!” It was so great that our services were able to help a student regain confidence in feeling like he can help himself, help others, make new friends, and succeed in school.

Role:  Volunteer