‘We all feel isolated if we don’t have community around us’: The ZoNE project aims to help families in Northeast Spokane
SPOKANE, Wash. — It takes a village to raise a child, and sometimes to keep a family afloat. There’s new help in Spokane for parents, whether they need food or mental health help.
It’s called the ZoNE Project. It’s part of the Northeast Community Center, a place known for having many resources for families in need.
The ZoNE Project started before the pandemic, but because jobs were lost, school went remote and COVID-19 is still hurting families, they’re seeing an even greater need for this now.
“It’s really important for parents to hear the words: You’re doing your best, and that’s enough,” said Darcelina Soloria.
Those words can make a difference for someone, and those are the words one could hear in a peer group.
The ZoNE Project is starting peer groups up this week. Thanks to a grant from the Innovia Foundation, there will be five peer groups meeting for six weeks over Zoom.
Soloria will help lead one group, along with a facilitator with organization Peer Spokane. Soloria goes out of her way to help people in her community. It’s also her job, as she works with an education advocacy organization.
Soon, she’ll be talking to other parents about how they’re feeling and what they’re going through.
“It’s not like you can talk to your child about how you’re feeling, and you don’t want to talk about those things in front of your child to make them feel bad about what’s going on,” Soloria said.
One of the goals of the ZoNE project’s peer group program is to help people talk it out.
Jene Ray, with the project, said they talked to families before the pandemic, wanting to know how they can better help them in the community.
One of the priorities was to reduce stress, and that comes in many different ways.
In June, the project surveyed families in the community about rent. She said 47 percent of people who answered said they were behind.
“So imagine now as this goes on and and some of the subsidies from the government, and savings, are exhausted, how bad it is, Ray said.
Needing financial help will also be another group.
Ray said World Relief will be helping them, too, as the northeast neighborhood has more diverse families living there.
“It’s essential that we have relationships and that we’re respectful and responsive of different household needs and that we meet them. Because, we really, our underlying goal is that all families thrive in the northeast,” she said.
While Soloria knows a little more on how to get through these tough times, she’ll be there to help others push forward as well.
“It’s not easy and sometimes you have to take it moment by moment, and you need to take a break, and that’s OK,” Soloria said. “It’s really important to recognize the simplest things can be the most important things. Just taking the time to stop and say, ‘I’m OK, my kids are OK, we’re in a really great spot because we’re all OK.'”
To have a place for families to talk with one another, through the stresses they’ve been going through, it creates a sense of community, and it can help them through those issues.
“Right now during COVID, isolation is, there’s no limits by neighborhood, by ethnic background, by how much money your family makes. None of that matters. We all feel isolated if we don’t have community around us,” Ray said.
Not only is the project helping families with emotional needs, it’s been giving out other resources to families as well.
Since mid-March, the ZoNE Project has worked with other community partners in giving away 46,000 meals to the community.
If you live in the northeast part of Spokane, and would like to get help with resources or be part of a peer group, or help others, visit the ZoNE Project’s website here, or call 509-487-1603.
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