From left to right are Mary Jo Anderson-Clapp, Chantel Anderson, Cierra Clapp and Cheyenne Anderson. They are speaking at the CISP fundraiser Woodstock Birthday Bash about their experiences with CISP programming. Photo courtesy of Janette Ryan

Last month the staff and volunteers of Communities In Schools Peninsula –– CISP for short –– threw a “Happy Birthday Woodstock”party that raised close to $30,000 for the organization that’s dedicated to helping local students stay in school and graduate.

“We had about 200 people and a band called Driving Sideways that did Woodstock tunes and we had Jim Valley come and sing a couple of songs,”said CISP Executive Director Colleen Speer.

“It was really fun. There were lots of people in tie-dye, and St. Anthony donated 40 sheets that our planning committee tie-dyed and used for tablecloths. We also had some old VW cars. It was totally groovy.”

Refreshments were donated by Gig Harbor’s Heritage Distillery (“…they served Hippie Juice”), the Boat Shed restaurant in Tacoma provided food and wine, and The Hub provided beer, Speer said.

“The whole purpose was to put money back into programming so we can help students in the Peninsula School District,”said Program Director Laurel Schultz. “But it was an awesome party –– a really great event.”

A highlight of the evening was an appearance by Key Peninsula resident Mary Jo Anderson and her three daughters Cheyenne, Chantel and Cierra.

All three girls have received help from CISP, and the mom and the two older girls spoke about some of the challenges they have faced and how important CISP’s help has been to them.

Cheyenne, 18, graduated from Henderson Bay High School this past June and is now enrolled at Olympic College, with plans to become a social worker.

Chantel, 17, is currently a senior at HBHS and Cierra attends Key Peninsula Middle School.

Last September, when Cheyenne was going through a bad period of depression, CISP coordinator Robin Malich came to her rescue, Mary Jo Anderson-Clapp said.

“Robin was right there for her; she was really great,”Anderson-Clapp said. “She helped Cheyenne the most and she was a good friend. Cheyenne was comfortable talking to her and Robin pretty much was there for her with anything she needed.”

Malich also “adopted”the family at Christmas time.

“Robin would call me and ask if I needed anything and at Christmas we got all kinds of gifts,”Anderson said.

Currently Chantel is involved with CISP’s Interact Club at Henderson Bay and is volunteering at The Red Barn as her senior project. “Robin and Laura have been so great to us and Chantel just wants to give something back to the community to show her appreciation,”Anderson said.

Last year at Vaughn Elementary, Cierra, the youngest girl, was in CISP’s Husky Helpers. “I think that CISP has somebody at KPMS where Cierra goes now,”Anderson said.

“I think they should be in every school in the community. They help people with so many things. Cheyenne wanted to be in water polo, but I couldn’t afford to buy her the stuff she needed to play so CISP helped pay for it.

“And if you need school supplies for your kids, you just go to CISP and they have all sorts of supplies –backpacks, binders, whatever you need.

“And they have a lot of mentors who go into the schools and help kids with reading and with math,”Anderson said.

And most important, she added, they’re good friends to the kids “who really need people like that in their school. They’ve been wonderful to my girls, and my girls just love Robin.”

Chantel agreed. “I think CISP is an amazing program and they should be in every school,”she said. “They’re always there whenever you need them. If you ever need anyone to talk to about anything, they will be there for you,”

Regarding the Woodstock event, Mary Jo Anderson said she really didn’t know what to expect. “I thought there would be other families there –– but there were all these rich people and we were the only family. But after we were done talking, so many people came up and patted us on the back and some of them donated three times when they asked people to raise their paddles and pledge some money.”

Schultz and her CISP team invited the family to the event “to sort of show what we do,”she said.

“We don’t put a lot of money into marketing, we just do as much as we can to provide services to kids. So we wanted to demonstrate to the crowd that this wasn’t just a fun party –– a far out, groovy thing to do on a Thursday night –– that Communities in Schools really means something to families.

“We wanted to give them an overview into some of the services that CISP provides ––and show that we’re more than just a mentoring program,” Schultz said.

Communities in Schools Peninsula is always in need of volunteers and also monetary donations, Schultz said.

Donations can be made via the CISP website at peninsula.ciswa.org or by sending a check to CISP, P. O. Box 684, Vaughn, WA. 98314

For information about becoming a volunteer call Laurel Schultz at (253) 884-5733.

Busy Key Peninsula Fire Department seek new volunteer firefighters
Herron Islander hosts film screening event at Northwest Film Forum in Seattle