Uniting With Our Neighbors In Service
by Vanessa Larez & Corinne Weaver, Bachman Lake Together
Bachman Lake Together invites community members and partners to work together so that every child in Bachman Lake is ready for kindergarten.
For centuries, education has been touted as the great equalizer of society. This remains true today. In fact, research shows that children who are prepared to enter kindergarten at grade level are more likely to graduate from high school, continue their education post-high school, attain increased lifetime earnings, maintain improved health, and benefit society overall.
Bachman Lake Together exists to unite the community to prepare every child for kindergarten — academically, socially, and emotionally—so they can thrive in school and in life. Its unique formula for kindergarten readiness is driven by high-quality early childhood education, parent leadership, and family well-being, and accelerated by the power of community. This holistic approach ensures families’ individual needs are met—as many of the families with children under 5 in Bachman Lake are Hispanic, Spanish-speaking, and new to the United States. Bachman Lake Together serves the 75220 zip code with a focus on residents within the street boundaries of Walnut Hill to the north, Midway to the east, Northwest Highway to the south, and Denton Drive to the west. Its Family Center is a quick, 4.5-mile drive away from Saint Michael.
Bachman Lake Together was founded by the Zero to Five Funders Collaborative over a decade ago on the principle that more can be achieved by working together than apart. In 2006, numerous philanthropic organizations and individuals, including Saint Michael parishioners Mary Jalonick and Helen Holman, determined that early childhood learning was a key area they wanted to invest in. Together with families, individuals, corporate, and community foundations, the Zero to Five Funders Collaborative formed in 2008, identified the Bachman Lake community as an area in need and embarked on the journey of taking a place-based approach towards kindergarten readiness. Since 2016, the Bachman Lake Together Family Center has served as the organization’s hub for programming and collective impact within the neighborhood.
Today, Bachman Lake Together works with community partners to increase access to high-quality early childhood education and two-generation programming through its Family Center, Prenatal to Three, and Early Education Enrollment campaigns. However, because children are impacted by their families’ circumstances and their overall environment, Bachman Lake Together works to connect families with key resources so their children can thrive in and out of the classroom. It promotes family well-being by providing mental health services, resources, and referrals to partner services and hosting events, such as vaccination clinics.
Through Bachman Lake Together’s parent engagement program, the Community Action Network (CAN), parents learn how to become community leaders and amplify their voices. After graduating from CAN, many parents take on leadership roles in local organizations, within their children's schools, and advocacy groups. Moreover, Bachman Lake Together’s Board of Trustees includes parent leaders, emphasizing the importance of centering community voice in fundamental conversations. The team at Bachman Lake Together believes advancing language justice, facilitating diverse community coalition meetings, and inviting community members to have a seat at every table are essential to empowering families and uplifting the community.
Bachman Lake Together became connected to Saint Michael during the initial stages of its 75th Anniversary search. As a community-centered organization, Bachman Lake Together strives to connect with and share its mission with its Dallas neighbors. By working together, the children and families of Bachman Lake and Saint Michael may learn from one another and build community across economic and cultural lines. Since its initial acquaintance with Saint Michael, Bachman Lake Together has been fortunate to receive a gift from the Saint Michael and All Angels Foundation and has continued this partnership through service.
Currently, Saint Michael is sponsoring high-quality early education programming at Bachman Lake Together, as well as enrichment through a model called PACT (Parents and Children Together). Research has shown that this kind of two-generation programming increases learning outcomes for both children and parents. Parents build confidence as they work and play with their children and, as a result, children’s school-based learning is reinforced at home.
PACT activities are integrated into the weekly programming of the Community Action Network. Additionally, Bachman Lake Together hosts several Community PACT events throughout the year where new families are invited to learn more about the services offered at the Bachman Lake Together Family Center. These events include story time in Spanish and English, a brief adult educational component, and a developmental activity for children with instruction for caregivers on how to engage and promote learning. Families also take home a copy of the book read during story time and other developmental materials. Volunteers from Saint Michael have been instrumental in coordinating the events and making them a success.
Additionally, 17 student volunteers from a confirmation class at Saint Michael beautified the Bachman Lake Together Family Center campus in October and prepared holiday candy bags for a community event. As the new year begins, both organizations are eager to continue working together. In addition to volunteering at Community PACT events next year, members of the church were invited to take a tour of the Family Center on February 26th. In the spring, both organizations work together on a donation drive for Lent.
As an organization focused on partnering with the community to generate impact, Bachman Lake Together knows the importance of working with its neighbors. More can be achieved when working together, and the team at Bachman Lake Together is immensely grateful for the entire family at Saint Michael and All Angels for its support in preparing Bachman Lake children for kindergarten.
For more information on programming, services, or how to get involved, contact Bachman Lake Together’s Executive Director, Dr. Olga Martinez Hickman, at [email protected].
**This article was written by Vanessa Larez & Corinne Weaver and was featured in the 2022 Spring Archangel.
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