TeamChild staff and several board members are gatheres for a group portrait. Several people hold roses and everyone is wearing a creative neametag they made at the retreat.

TeamChild’s Spring Retreat – Persistent Rivers

TeamChild Staff and several Board members gathered last month at Dumas Bay Center for our first in-person retreat since 2019. We traveled from our regional offices in King, Pierce, Spokane and Yakima counties, from out behind our computers and devices, to do some team building, enjoy food together, examine our history and growth, and delve into conversations about the challenges and opportunities ahead of us as we build towards our collective vision of the organization. We were lucky to work with Amadeo Cruz Guiao, Rose Waterstone & Mari Shibuya, a group of talented facilitators and artists, who wove the theme of “rivers” throughout our 2 days together, creating a beautiful timeline of TeamChild’s

A timeline is pictured under a window with evergreen trees in the background. In addition to dates, the timeline features an illustrated river and colorful post-it notes.

TeamChild – historical – timeline – March 2023

work and inviting each of us to reflect on how our own rivers intersect with the organization’s life span. In addition to finding our place on the historical timeline, we were asked to physically line up across the 2 meeting rooms we occupied, in the chronological order that we joined the organization. As a staff member who has been at TeamChild for more than 15 years, it was incredible to see how our staff has doubled in size, and to see how many staff joined TeamChild during the last 3 years, coinciding with the intersecting pandemics of COVID and ongoing systemic racism.

One of our Board members present at the retreat, Sally Pritchard, was connected to the organization as far back as 1996 when TeamChild opened our second office in Spokane, under the sponsorship of the Washington Defender Association. Newer staff were interested to learn about some of the awards and recognition TeamChild received in its first decade of existence. We spent time remembering key staff members who have moved on, and adding them

Spokane Staff Attorney, Danielle, and Youth Advisory Board Coordinator, Quincy, enjoy a meal after a long retreat meeting day.

Spokane Staff Attorney, Danielle, and Youth Advisory Board Coordinator, Quincy, enjoy a meal after a long retreat meeting day.

to the timeline, as well as community partners like the South King County Discipline Coalition, who in 2016 encouraged TeamChild staff and board to commit to an ongoing process of attending Undoing Institutionalized Racism training, which led toward anti-racism work, both internally and in our work with youth and community.

On our second day of the retreat, we participated in an activity of Visioning a Desired Future, where, in small groups, we wrote headlines and news stories for TeamChild’s future work. Our current Youth Advisory Board was featured in many of those headlines!

Britta takes a selfie with a group of TeamChild staff and Boardmembers behind her. Dumas Bay and a dramatic sky are in the background.

Spokane Staff Attorney, Britta, takes a selfie with Sonia, Almetta, Quincy, Lary, Heidi, Natalie, Grace, Vy, Vincent, Kim, Lauren Julian, Danielle, Grete and Teresa (L to R) behind her.

This retreat served as a launching point for strategic planning. I can remember a retreat in 2018 where we began collaborating on our current Vision Statement: Young people should have power and experience unconditional belonging at school, at home and in their communities. As the Communications Manager for TeamChild, I rely on these retreats to gather our voices and share about our work from the varied perspectives of our community. That community has always included our clients, but increasingly we are excited about partnering with young people with lived experience to help shape and articulate our vision. And more importantly – ultimately – to share and lead the work!

We often have many different perspectives on what our work with youth leaders will look like and how to talk about it.  But I am immensely grateful that my colleagues and work family – those few who started over a decade ago, those who have challenged us to branch out along the way (adding a policy team and a community engagement team, for example), and the many who are just beginning to work every day alongside young people still facing incredible and ever-changing challenges – stay in the hard conversations. They show up even when they’ve been up late helping a young person navigate limited safe housing options, plan for a school discipline hearing, or prepare for a trip to Olympia to advocate for policy change.

I hope you will stay in these conversations with TeamChild and continue to support our evolving work with young people. If you have questions about the work, or ideas about collaboration, please contact [email protected] – I’ll be happy to share your comments with the appropriate team or staff or board member!

A beautiful illustration of a river and notes from TeamChild's Spring 2023 retreat. There are human figures surrounded by words like

Art and notes capturing some of TeamChild’s current challenges and opportunities – by Mari Shibuya

Thank you! Your subscription has been confirmed. You'll hear from us soon.
Get the latest from TeamChild
Sign up for our Newsletter