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May, 2021
Change the future. Invest in our kids.
Volunteer Spotlight
Susan Bender Phelps -
"I Found My Heart's Desire"
Susan Bender Phelps,
President of Friends of Washington County Kids, has a passion for kids and families

By Jane Glasser

Susan remembers the moment when her heart’s desire came into focus. She was in the Los Angeles Coliseum attending a workshop on how to make communities work. Right before the lunch break, the emcee introduced a special guest. He entered from the back of the room and swaggered up the aisle—a young Hispanic man wearing a do-rag, clunky boots, and saggy pants, a pack of cigarettes rolled in his sleeve. One arm was in a cast, and he waved it at the crowd and yelled, “I didn’t get it fighting; I got it playing touch football!”

The young man went on to share his story: how he’d been a gang leader in Oakland, his life set on a dangerous and short-lived trajectory. He got involved with the Breakthrough Foundation for Youth at Risk, and it changed his life. He discovered that though he’d done and seen some awful things, he could live beyond the age of 25, not a given, and provide for his son. He stopped drinking, drugging, and living a life of crime.

“That young man’s experience touched me deeply,” says Bender Phelps, Co-founder of Washington County Kids (WCK) and today President of Friends of Washington County Kids, a political action committee that supports WCK’s work. “I knew I had found something important to dedicate my life to.” 

Bender Phelps returned to her home in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and began raising money for the Breakthrough Foundation. She later co-founded the New Mexico Youth at Risk mentoring program, which she helmed for 15 years.

Bender Phelps’s heart has been beating strongly for disadvantaged children and youth ever since. She ended up in Beaverton, Oregon, when she fell in love with an Oregonian and returned home with him 21 years ago. Between them, Susan and Jim have four children and ten grandchildren. 

The young man from Oakland taught Bender Phelps that kids who struggle to stay in school, not fall behind academically in the summer, and stay out of trouble while their parents are at work can make it. They just need a hand up.

In 2009 she and Katie Riley co-founded Washington County Kids and, later, Susan founded Friends of Washington County Kids, which raises money for out-of-school time (OST) programs in Washington County. “Tax levies are the only way to generate the level of funding required for these programs, but we haven’t been able to make that happen yet,” Bender Phelps says. She’s hopeful that the Washington County Board of Commissioners will eventually put an OST program-funding levy on the ballot. 

“OST programs benefit everyone,” Bender Phelps says.“Parents know their children are being cared for and their educations enriched. Employers get employees that are 100 percent present at work. Citizens get a safer community because kids are less likely to get into trouble. And property owners who live in strong communities get higher property values. When we strengthen families, everybody thrives.”

Latest News

Children's Service Districts
and Other Support News

The proposal to allow the formation of children’s service districts (SB 299) by citizen petition has not been approved by the legislature. Although it had passed the Senate with bipartisan support, there was not enough support in the House. There is still interest from many parts of the state—watch for the possibility of the proposal resurfacing in future legislative sessions.

In Washington County, a recent poll indicates that almost 80% of voters would approve funding for out-of-school time programs (early learning, after school, and summer). The greatest interest is in funding a full range of age groups rather than limiting to 3 and 4-year-olds. Voters are aware of the need to provide child care and enrichment for kids of all ages to support working parents, improve social and academic success, and keep kids safe. Meanwhile, school superintendents in the county are exploring interest in a preschool for all initiative (similar to the Multnomah County initiative that passed in November 2020), but this will only serve 3 and 4-year-olds. The best current option for sustainable funding lies in the hands of the Board of County Commissioners who can choose to include an initiative on the ballot that lets voters decide.

If you want to see a measure on the ballot that will provide program funding that serves kids of all ages, here is what you can do:

1. Donations to the Friends of Washington County PAC will create a grassroots campaign. The next $5,000 raised locally will be matched by the Children’s Funding Accelerator. Donate online at

2. Volunteer to make phone calls, recruit volunteers, and write letters to our County Commissioners, school superintendents, and newspapers

3. Apply to become a member of the campaign steering committee. Contact Susan Bender Phelps at or call 503-890-0971
Mark Your Calendar
FREE Community Info Session--
Parenting in the
Digital Age: Keeping Kids Safe Online
July 14, 2021, 7-8 pm

In this interactive session, parents and guardians will learn tips to help keep kids safe online. Topics include setting boundaries, identifying potential problems, and engaging in positive conversations with your kids. Register here.
Parenting Together offers free learning and support opportunities for parents and caregivers including:
--Positive Parenting To Create a Happy Home
 (starts June 3)
--Summer Parenting Learning & Support Workshops (starts June 17; facilitated in Spanish)
See website for full details and contact information.
Reach for the Stars 
Annual Fundraiser, 8/5
Contact us about becoming an event sponsor or donating to our silent auction.
Board and Steering Committee meeting:
6/28 @ 6:30 pm
Check website for details
Support WCK
Make a Donation to WCK
Show your support with our growing collection of branded products.

NEW Quote Totes! 
Meaningful quotes that remind us why WCK exists. We chose this favorite to use on our first quote tote:
“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.”
--Benjamin Franklin 
NEW Art Totes!
Two to choose from, artwork images provided by Katie Riley!
Other ways to support WCK
Fred Meyer Rewards:  Visit this website to link your Fred Meyer Rewards Card to WCK account #EG761. You receive the same rewards as usual and Fred Meyer makes a small donation to WCK.

BenefitDownload the app and select Washington County Kids as your chosen beneficiary. Share with friends and family! 

Benevity: Give through your company!
AmazonSmile donates a portion of your eligible mobile app purchases to us at no cost to you! 
How to help:
1. Open the Amazon app on your phone
2. Select the main menu (=) & tap on "AmazonSmile" within Programs & Features
3. Select "Washington County Kids"
4. Follow the on-screen instructions to activate AmazonSmile
Recent WCK Events

OST Provider Training

Teacher Tested Tips and Tools for Positive Behavior Management

In her May 14, OST provider training teacher Meghan Kalus shared many ideas to help providers manage behavior positively. The fast-paced presentation included brainstorming in breakout groups. Kalus noted that managing behavior during non-school time is often harder than in the classroom due to the mix of ages and abilities. However, kids can be taught different systems to keep the atmosphere calm including “peace” areas for younger kids and offering choices for older kids. In the breakout groups, participants suggested using problem solver cards showing emojis, being clear about goals, and checking in with kids every day. If you missed the presentation it is available for viewing on our YouTube channel.

Out-of-School-Time (OST) Providers Quarterly Meeting: Takeaways

On May 7 we held our quarterly meeting of Washington County OST providers. At the top of the list of current concerns is finding qualified staff. Providers are preparing for summer programs. They are excited about having in-person sessions and engaging with kids and parents. The group also discussed current activities and shared ideas about how to address challenges. Specific staffing opportunities are included in this newsletter. WCK's recent Parent Speaker Series was popular so ideas were shared for future parent speaker series topics. The next quarterly meeting is on Friday, September 6th at noon. If you are an area provider and want to join the WCK OST provider network please email

Job Opportunities

YMCA of Columbia-Willamette

YMCA is actively looking to fill 30+ job positions. The YMCA is a leading provider for licensed and unlicensed Childcare, Camps, After School Care, and much more. These jobs offer invaluable skill-building, leadership, training, and enrichment opportunities that can't be found anywhere else! Regardless of your college major, these experiences allow you to learn and develop skills that will enhance your job marketability. Contact us for more information and an application:  

Boys and Girls Club

BGCP Inukai Club, Hillsboro, is looking for community members with some experience working with elementary-age youth or teenagers. These positions are open to anyone wanting to continue developing skills and experience in a growth opportunity organization. Experience in activity creation and execution is preferred but not required. 
Youth Development Mentor
Teen Development Mentor

Do you have news you'd like us to share?
If you are a part of our OST provider network and/or have been invited to submit a story or item of interest to Washington County families, teachers, or care providers, email your content before 5 pm on the 3rd Friday of the month (up to 400 words for stories, 75 words for events or other special requests; include cropped jpg or png image). Submission is not a guarantee of inclusion. Include name and email of person we can contact with questions.
Newsletter Editor: Shari Getz
Copyright © 2021 Washington County Kids, All rights reserved.

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