Anti-bullying program in schools

Addressing issues of inclusion, bullying, and building connections and understanding between teens and their peers is the focus of United for Change, a program started at Mark Morris High School by Travis Ruhter, Washington State’s Leadership Teacher of the Year in 2013. The program has since expanded to high schools throughout the county. The program is comprised of three components: Make the Change, a one day seminar; Be the Change, a three day weekend retreat; and Live the Change, an ongoing follow up and mentoring program.

South Kelso Neighborhood Association

Since it formation in 2013, the South Kelso Neighborhood Association (SKNA) has taken an active role in helping to beautify Kelso. The group reached an agreement with the City of Kelso earlier this year, allowing SKNA to use the city’s old finance building for meetings and storage rent-free. It is raising money to maintain the building and pay utilities. To date, SKNA members have painted over the graffiti on 30 alley walls, and partnered with AmeriCorps to host an alley clean-up day.

Highlands Community Center

The updated and remodeled Highlands Community Center opened to the public late last year. Nearly $100,000 in Community Development Block Grant funds paid for the renovations that included adding ADA-accessible ramps and bathrooms, new floors, plumbing, wiring, and paint. The Highlands Neighborhood Association purchased the 1200 sq.ft. home in 2013, moved in for awhile, and then closed it for several months so it could be revamped. More improvements are planned for the future including a new roof and fixing up the garage which is located on an adjacent lot.