Human connection is an essential part of our mission. Equip has made connections with schools, organizations and individuals to foster healthy programs and provide meaningful support to those who need it most in our community. If you know of students, athletes, families or organizations that could use our help, please contact Equip Executive Director, Katie Stafford email@example.com
Organizations supported by Equip:
Last year, Chef Dara Mulligan had a cancellation for a catering job and, having already bought the food, she offered to cook two Thanksgiving meals for families in need. Becky Reetze of College of Marin's EOPS (Extended Opportunity Programs & Services) Director let Chef Dara know that some of the students she serves at College of Marin could use the meals. The problem was, Dara had enough food to feed only 2 families and Becky had about 35 families in need. That's when Equip stepped in and with the help of Finnegan's Marin, we were able to pay for and help distribute meals to all 35 students facing food insecurity. Fast foward to 2021, Becky secured the COM Nugget Farm Kitchen and with generous donations from local busineses (Thank you Nugget Market, Sam White with Elite Mortgage Solutions, A Piece of Cake Confections and Bordenaves Bread), we were able to cook and serve over 50 families. We are already setting a goal of 100 families in 2022.
Health and healing have never seemed more important after trudging through this pandemic year. Ellie Dominguez, owner and creator of Ellie's Essentials, partnered with Equip to host a sound healing event at the Equip Annex. Led by yoga and meditaion instructor, Jodi McLean, participants were treated to a 3-hour mini retreat intended to bring women together to heal and work through emotions with the power of sound. Massage, skin care, reiki energy work and other health vendors were also on site for the women to partake in. The event sold out and was an overwhelming success with many women asking us to host more in the future. Check in with us again when the weather warms up a bit for more events like this!
Equip's Board of Trustees voted in June to gift 3 Novato Unified School Teachers with a $1000 award for their service to their students during a very difficult pandemic year in the classroom. We asked the NUSD community to submit nominations for teachers who went above and beyond to "meet the moment" with creativity, innovation, compassion and grace.
We were fortunate to receive over 20 nominations. While we could only select 3 winners (one elementary, one middle school and one high school teacher), we did want to acknowledge the others and each teacher was awarded a $50 gift as a gesture of our profound gratitude.
Thank you to all of our teachers and please read on to learn more about the 3 teachers who received the "Meet The Moment" Award.
Caren Gutierrez is a resource teacher at Rancho Elementary School. Ms. Gutierrez worked tirelessly during the pandemic to meet the needs of all her students. When she heard kids were in the on campus day care during remote learning, Caren would go over to their classroom so she could teach them in person. At the beginning of the 2020 school year, Rancho's staffing allocation was frozen and they were no allowed to fill the aide position. Caren worked during the first half of the year without support. She also collaborated with other staff to help provide interventions when necessary and led trainings to the entire school staff.
Jason Eckl is the Sinaloa Middle School Music teacher. Jason went out of his way to provide instruments to students at home during remote learning. He made himself available on campus before and after regular working hours to ensure every student had the tools to continue their music education at home. Mr. Eckl's commitment to the music program has proven to be invaluable to students. Providing them with an opportunity to play music and sing undoubtedly relieved stress and anxiety during uncertain times. Students shared that it gave them comfort during a year of isolation and allowed them to have a glimpse of normalcy and collaboration with peers from a safe distance.
Karen Maass is a Spanish Teacher at Novato High School. Nominated by one of her students, Karen was recognized because she wanted to see everyone succeed to the best of their ability. Ms. Maass put in the time to build relationships with each student and find ways to keep them motivated and engaged in learning. She checked in regularly with students about their mental and physical health. She made sure each student knew that her care for their well-being went beyond the classroom. Students said that her classes were less focused on grades and more about where the possibility of learning could take them. She not only inspired them to learn other languages, but encouraged them to engage in other cultures and pursue travel.
Santa Rosa United’s U15 and U17 Girls qualified for the ECNL National Soccer Tournament held in Lakewood Ranch, FL during early July. Players and families traveled across the country representing the top 96 teams in the nation per age group. Equip's sponsorship helped ease travel costs for players and families. Congratulations to players and coaches for this amazing accomplishment.
Our Junior Gardener's ended their 8-week gardening session with a special guest. Chef Dara Mulligan from Dara's Kitchen volunteered to help the kids create healthy homemade salad dressings. She taught them the importance of reading labels in the store to avoid dressings with unhealthy ingredients they can't pronounce. The students experimented mixing together different oils, acids and spices. Pro tip, a little sesame seed oil goes a long way! Each student picked (and washed) lettuce from the garden to taste test their dressing and everyone took home a jar of their finished product to share with their family.
About a year ago, we had discussed doing some sort of community garden or gardening club to teach about water conservation, sustainability, gratitude for food and healthy eating. Seeing the food insecurity crisis in our country and community, we felt now was the time to open this opportunity for growth. We were fortunate to connect with the good people at the Novato Fire District Administrative building and they had a fantastic backyard space which was underutilized. With the support of our former board member, Emma Mesenburg, and the incredible creativity and vision of Brittanie Williamson, we launched our first Junior Gardening Session in April. Our planter boxes are even made from an old fence at the NFD building which was going to be thrown away. We are proud to do as much as possible to conserve resources. Special thanks to Chief Kyle Dague, NFD Administrator Colleen Walraven for allowing us use for the space. Thank you to Luis at A& S Materials for the nonprofit discount on our soil. A special shout out to Master Gardener, Diane Gasson, for donating gloves and shovels and offering us resources to help make our garden a success.
San Marin High School Senior, Elizabeth Deruvo, founded the nonprofit "Operation Warm Winter" when she was just in elementary school. She collects warm jackets, coats, bedding and blankets and finds community members in need to deliver them to. Knowing many families have been out of work and displaced during the pandemic, Elizabeth reached out to Equip to partner on a clothing drive. We successfully collected and delivered two huge truck fulls of clothes and bedding to a local homeless shelter. A shout out to our incredible volunteers from the Do Good Be Kind Club at SMHS who spent the day helping us with collecting and sorting. Also thanks to Matt Cronin at Customized Hauling for donating a truckload of plastic tubs to aid in our organization. And finally, we can't forget to high five Sam White and Mikkel Clark for loaning their pick up trucks to assist with the delivery.
Equip was made aware of local school children in Novato who were in need of gifts during the holiday season. Equip Executive Director, Katie Stafford, was able to get all of the gifts on their lists.
Big thanks to Kohl's in San Rafael for offering us a friends and family discount and giving our nonprofit a tax exemption. It allowed us our donation to go even further than we imagined.
After hearing that there are 16 homeless students in 4th grade alone at a nearby Title 1 school, Equip reached out to see how we could help. The school's community liaison said that gift cards for food would be best. United Markets owner, Kelly Smith, offered to allow us to buy $1600 ($100/student) in gift cards at a generous discount which enabled these students and their families to have access to food during such a challenging time.
The holiday season has been particularly challenging this year due to the pandemic, and the level of food insecurity is alarming. Thanks to local Novato mom and Chef of Dara's Kitchen, Dara Mulligan, Equip was put in touch with Becky Reetz. Becky is the Director of EOPS (Extended Opportunity Programs & Services), CARE and CalWORKs programs at College of Marin. She identified 21 College of Marin students in her program who were in need of food on Thanksgiving. Chef Dara cooked meals for 7 of the 21 with her own food supply and community donations and Equip purchased meals for the other 14 families with the help of Finnegan's Marin who helped deliver the meals for free to local students. It was such a success, we are talking about making this an annual effort in the hopes of serving more families in need each year.
Equip felt compelled to become a part of the solution to combat racial injustice in America. One important way to change course is through education and learning. In an effort to diversify classroom libraries, Equip has given $1000 in grants to local teachers to buy books written by and featuring more people of color. We made a similar donation to the families at Gilead House - a home which inspires and empowers homeless single mothers and their children toward financial stability and independence. We are committed to being an ally to anyone facing discrimination of any kind in our community and beyond.
Over the summer, Equip partnered with Marin Foster Care Association and put together a safe, fun outdoor camp experience for some foster families and other children in our community. Led by Equip Outdoor Director, Brittanie Williamson, campers had a week of activities which included games, crafts, dance and storytelling. The kids also learned about social responsibility, mindfulness, recycling, water conservation, farming, and protecting the environment. Several local businesses donated time and supplies to aid in our efforts. Thank you to Ms. Tara from Love2Dance, Kona Ice and Board & Brush for supporting our kids and enhancing their experience.
We have all be changed by the global crisis this year. Some certainly felt the impact more than others. Equip wanted to find ways to help those in the most need as quickly as possible. We are proud to say that Equip was able to donate close to $10,000 to families in our community through gift cards and cash donations. We delivered $4500 in gift cards to Olive Elementary School (photo below) and donated $5000 to the Marin County Office of Education where Superintendent of Schools, Mary Jane Burke, was able to distribute funds to help school children and their families facing personal loss.
We gave our Equip supporters a little breather by giving their little ones an afternoon of fun. The kids played games, went on a scavenger hunt and decorated gingerbread houses. It was such a hit that we hope to make this an annual event!
A HUGE thank you goes out to Stephanie - owner of Board & Brush in San Rafael. She opened her doors to us and donated a generous % of her project sales back to Equip. Please consider supporting Stephanie in return!
Our Equip Outdoors leader, Britt Williamson, took a great group of teen girls camping on Mt. Tam. They took extra time to breath, move and connect with themselves and one another. The ladies ended their overnight with a surf lesson at Stinson Beach.