This fall in Spokane, we launched our inaugural cohort of Stand Fellows. This small group of dedicated volunteers has committed to a year-long position with Stand for Children Washington and will be delivering workshops to parents, engaging new volunteers, and educating others interested in legislative advocacy. I’d like to introduce you to our Volunteer Coordinator Fellow for 2019-20, Tammy Mitchell. Tammy has been volunteering with Stand for over two years and has been to Olympia to speak with legislators multiple times. Her passion for kids and for standing up for what she believes in is evident in all that she does. I wanted Tammy to share more about herself in her own words, so I asked her a few questions about herself to share with you. Please join me in congratulating Tammy and saying thank you for her continued commitment to kids. - Darcelina, Spokane Organizer
Where did you grow up?
I never stayed in one spot for very long. I grew up mostly in California. If I had to choose my most favorite place I would have to say is Lincoln, California. We lived on a couple farms and our family actually helped to build that town.
My grandfather Ernest Hazel Hyden is on the wall in the historical part of the city hall. I feel more connected to that land in Lincoln than I do anywhere else. It used to be a very small town and not many people. I went to visit my sister in California recently and went to visit Lincoln - it’s a huge blown out city now! I actually had to google where I wanted to go. Lincoln changed so much that home did not look like home. I hadn’t been home for several years and change happened without me knowing of the change. Everything I thought was the same was not. If I had kept in touch with family I would've known about the progress of change. I also would not have been lost in a town I used to call home. The moral of the story for me is you can be part of the change or the change can happen without you. That's what we're trying to do at Stand for Children, helping parents/students be part of the change.
What drives you to volunteer with Stand?
My drive to volunteer with Stand For Children is fueled by how I’ve seen students being looked over because of race, like when a teacher makes a choice for the student because they think the student would not benefit. I volunteer for the parents who are frustrated with the school system and don’t know what resources they have to navigate through it.
Tammy marching with Stand for Children in the 2018 March for our Lives, led by students.
What is your goal as a fellow this year?
I have two main goals: First is to let students/parents know of the number of resources that are available in making them be successful through the school year onto graduation. The second is to reassure parents/students they have a good support team who will help either of them with whatever need parent/student might have.
Overall my goal for this year is for us to be successful in helping all students/parents get through to the next year and continue forward to graduation. I also want to hopefully get more students engaged with their education.
"I volunteer for the parents who are frustrated with the school system and don’t know what resources they have to navigate through it."
When have you advocated for others in the past?
I remember when I was in the 7th or 8th grade, a friend of mine got picked on a lot. She was a girl with a disability named Michelle. Michelle had one leg that was shorter than the other, and had to wear a special shoe to even out her leg. I got fed up one day and I reacted to a boy who was picking on her by by beating him up. That definitely was the wrong reaction, but I was frustrated because I saw that school still was not doing anything to help Michelle out. So, I started to keep a journal of all the times she was bullied and took it to the principal. They just said they would take care of it. This incident lit a fire in my heart to advocate for other students who were bullied. I now advocate for my son Carlos and other children who are struggling. It's fulfilling knowing that I can help students help themselves, also help their parents have the tools they need to support their student.
Tammy waiting with her husband to speak with her legislator in Olympia during the 2019 Stand for Children day at the capitol.
Who is your inspiration?
I have several inspirations - each of them came from hard lives and struggles. Anyone who comes from nothing and finds a way out of a difficult life situation, whatever it may be, is a hero to me. Here are a few of my favorites: All the Native American tribes that have suffered for many years of hurt/discrimination, their identity stolen and forced into a religion that was not theirs - many who are still standing strong. I love the way many others overcame adversity also such as Maya Angelou, Martin Luther King Jr, Nelson Mandela, Ghandi, so many more I could list. My inspirations are anyone who looks past a pigment of color, and embraces the fact that we all are they same beneath our pigment - they are truly inspirational.
Stand for Children’s Fellows Program is a leadership development program aimed at transforming socially conscious people into community leaders and change makers. Through an intensive year-long engagement/commitment, Stand Fellows will embark on an experiential journey of skill building and enrichment opportunities which will allow them to connect to their community and harness the power of their collective voices to change state and local systems and ensure all students receive a high quality and relevant education.
If you’d like to support our Fellows Program and Tammy’s work with families in Spokane, give a gift to Stand for Children Washington today.