Volleyball Association’s Warehouse Transforms Into Project Skylane For Displaced Kids And Families.
We all know what happened on Oct 8, 2017: flames rapidly destroyed the Sonoma and Napa areas displacing thousands of people from their homes and claiming lives. Then on Oct 11, the Northern California Volleyball Association (NCVA) had an idea.
They told SportStars, we came together and asked ourselves what our organization could do for our community.
We were one of the few locations with power, working bathrooms and plenty of space — surely someone could use them?
We knew of just the organization.
The School Box Project. A 501(c)(3) organization, their innovative model provides mobile, trauma-informed education, art and play to children displaced by crisis.
That very day, a tour of the NCVA’s facilities was given.
And the following day donations and volunteers were amassed.
Through 14-hour shifts on the weekend, our warehouse was transformed into a fully-functional space — play areas with toys, reading nooks with couches, and desks splayed with coloring books.
The location was set; the curriculum, credentialed teachers, other specialists and volunteers were all provided.
All that was needed now was a coordinator.
And another 501(c)(3) organization entered the scene — Matrix Parent Network.
They are a parent-founded, parent-operated nonprofit organization. They provide parental support, create and maintain networks, schedule logistics and coordinate a diverse spectrum of therapeutic and support services for individuals and families. It was perfect!
By Oct. 16, we had a fully operational center: Project Skylane was born.
NCVA’s official partnership with two other nonprofits offered trauma-informed transitional support, relief and care until schools reopen for displaced children, teens and families — specifically those with exceptionalities.
So how did this program affect the families and children it served?
Did it achieve its main goal, which was to help children to feel safe?
Alena Ragueneau, a parent who entrusted her child to Project Skylane told us “On day one, we dropped off a timid, agitated child and later picked up a relaxed and beaming child.”
“The special care applied by each of these highly skilled volunteers was mind-blowing.
In one week, we learned coping techniques that our child could use in stressful times that we never knew to try.
Our child’s interests were paramount to the staff, which was made apparent by all the exciting stories he came home with at the end of the day.
Resources that were made available to both our child, and my husband and I, made us feel that we had a whole team behind us.”
Dominique Soileau, the Event Coordinator from Matrix and the Program Director from Skylane, echoed this sentiment.
She said “by figuring out each individual child’s interest and what made them feel safe, we could provide the child and their parents with behavioral tools and supplies to achieve a sense of peace and safety. One such parent went home with a tent and giant pillow!”
She felt Project Skylane was therapeutic — not just for kids, but for the grownup volunteers as well.
A visible change in the children to playing, laughing and making friendships was “amazing to see.”
She says their next steps for these families is to assess and address the emotional and physical needs now that the children are back in school and the parents start to fully process the impact of the fires.
NCVA is a 501(c)(3) organization that, in partnership with USA Volleyball, endeavors to promote participation in a quality program that provides a positive and safe environment through various developmental and competitive opportunities for players of all ages, skill levels, and backgrounds.