By Danielle Jackson
When I say collaboration is the best method to building community and giving organizations a sense of purpose in their neighborhood. The crime rate in Rainier Beach is evident that collaboration is working in Rainier Beach. In 2014, A Beautiful Safe Place for Youth (aka ABSPY) Core Team started meeting to discuss how to strategically build a safer place in Rainier Beach. There are many guardians in the Rainier Beach Neighborhood who activate space at the hotspot (or pearls) in Rainier Beach. Each member of the core team plays a role to keep the neighborhood safe and support the community within. The core team was looking to build deeper connections with the many other organizations with the same goals, to assist youth with resources and a safe place to learn and grow. So, Rainier Beach United’s (RBU) collaboration with CHAMPS Resource & Service Center, who was hosting monthly eConnect Luncheons has similar goals to bring the community together to share resources and services. So, it made a lot of sense to collaborate and build an even stronger and more resourceful RBU. Thanks to the staff (Mahogany, Jenny, Marty, and Hana) who started RBU. With the SE Network and RBU collaboration, there will be more resources, activities, and connections available for youth to learn about and engage in for the summer.
The Boys & Girls Club (Smilow Rainier Vista) is part of the core team. One of their annual events that The BE SAFE host each year is the End-of-the-Year Block Party. It was founded by SE Network Safe Passage in June of 2015 and is located at the Rainier Beach Plaza on Rainier and Henderson. The purpose of this event was to address the uptick in violence in the community by ending the school year on a positive note while transitioning into a SAFE SUMMER.
SE Network did this by providing a safe space where youth and families in the Rainier Beach neighborhood can gather, engage in fun activities, break bread together and build positive connections and relationships. During the Block Party, there is a moment of silence to acknowledge all the young people in the neighborhood that lost their lives due to gun violence. Following this is a CALL TO ACTION for youth and community to make a commitment to PLEDGE TO BE SAFE for the Summer. Youth and community signed an “I PLEDGE TO BE SAFE” banner and it was hung in the Rainier Beach Plaza as a reminder for everyone.
Since 2016, SE Network Safe Passage has strategically scheduled the BE SAFE Block Party on the last day of school from 12 pm to 4 pm to control any youth fights and incidents. As a result of this change, there have been zero fights and incidents.
Thanks to Marty Jackson-Patu and Jenny Frankl for sharing their thoughts and history for this article.