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Thu, Nov. 21

Mingus Union H.S. opens 'Hope Center'
Center is where students can get a clothing, food, school supplies, toiletries

Rynnie Scott, Mingus Union’s community family outreach coordinator, at the school’s Hope Center. What was once literally a closet is now a room with clothing, food, school supplies and personal hygiene products. The center, Scott says, is available to any Mingus Union student. VVN/Bill Helm

Rynnie Scott, Mingus Union’s community family outreach coordinator, at the school’s Hope Center. What was once literally a closet is now a room with clothing, food, school supplies and personal hygiene products. The center, Scott says, is available to any Mingus Union student. VVN/Bill Helm

The purpose of the Hope Center, according to Rynnie Scott, the school’s community and family outreach coordinator, is to meet a student’s immediate needs, and to connect the student with additional resources.

“And it’s not specified to students classified as needy,” Scott said. It’s for anyone.”

According to Genie Gee, the Hope Center is one of the ways the Cottonwood school “connects students to caring adults.”

“It doesn’t matter which caring adult,” said Gee, Mingus Union’s principal. “There are no strangers here.”

Gee said that the Hope Center is possible, in part, thanks to Title IV funds “that the state is trying to sustain.”

“A lot of donations too, but the Hope Center is not eligible for tax credit donations,” Gee said.

But the Mingus Union Key Club is one of the center’s partners, Gee said, and can receive tax credit donations.

“The Key Club has been huge,” said Gretchen Wesbrock, the school’s director of student support services. “We’re all working hard on building relationships and providing structures for those relationships.”

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Mingus Union’s Hope Center is open for students who need food, clothing, school supplies, even toiletries. VVN/Bill Helm

Want to help – where to start

In the 2018-2019 school year, the Hope Center was the Hope Closet, literally a closet in the school’s library. When Scott wanted more information on how to build a Hope Center and how to create partnerships with the community, she contacted Kelly Lee, Humboldt Unified’s family and community engagement coordinator.

“She really helped us set up a framework, what is successful, who to reach out to,” Scott said. “We weren’t sure what this would look like. She’s the one who pointed us in the right direction to form our ecumenical committee, which is 10 different faith-based leader in the community.”

According to Lee, most churches and businesses “want to help, they just don’t know where to start.”

“I think creating a school plan makes the process simple to execute and helps the community understand the specific needs,” Lee said.

When Scott visited Humboldt Unified’s Family Resource Center, Lee said that it really “helped her to put in perspective how to fill the needs of her students and staff.”

“We showed her our center, our clothing donation and where we get our donation from,” Lee said. “This is where the businesses and churches have played a role with clothing donations and monetary (gift card) donations for our family resource specialist to purchase needed items for our families in need. All it takes is a little work asking the community to join, and the benefits come rolling in.”

Scott found that reaching out to the community was easier than she had imagined. “Nobody said ‘No,’” Scott said. “Everyone wanted to help. With our communities, we can target what we need. It’s a win-win.”

‘Yavapai County is truly unique’

Gareth Braxton-Johnson, commander at the Cottonwood Police Department, said he has “always been a big advocate for education and those who serve in that profession.”

“I was more than enthusiastic to help assist in the fantastic work Rynnie Scott and Mingus Union High School has and will continue to be doing,” he said. “My role is to serve as a liaison between our police department, on behalf of the City of Cottonwood. As one department, of many within the city, I am also able to assist in facilitating dialogue and action planning among any other departments in the city that may be able to assist in the leadership team’s objectives and projects. Yavapai County is truly unique, in my humble opinion, to get things done and to work collaboratively in doing so, for a greater good.”

Partnerships

Community organizations, students and anonymous donors have contributed to the Hope Center, Scott said. “The Mingus Key Club has also donated,” Scott said. “They have given us so many great things.”

According to Scott, all clothing in the Hope Center is “school appropriate, then washed and dried on campus.” The clothes are clean, thanks to special education teacher Erin Boisrond’s class.

“Our self-contained class, Bridges I, works on laundry skills and other functional life skills throughout the day,” Boisrond said. “We partner with the Hope Center by washing, drying, folding and delivering their laundry to them. That way, when students pick up clothing items, they are cleaned and ready to wear. This also provides valuable skills for my students as well. It’s a great partnership.”

For more information about Mingus Union’s Hope Center, contact Rynnie Scott at 928-634-7531, ext. 2211, or email rscott@muhs.com. Hope Center hours are 8:30 a.m. until 4 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, but Scott said that when she’s not in the center, the school’s teachers have access to the center for students who need resources.

Follow Bill Helm on Twitter @BillHelm42

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