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Heights Church, residents work together to improve Mariposa Elementary


Al and Ruth Fox stand in front of Mariposa Elementary school. // S. Williams

By Sara Beth Williams–
A Citrus Heights neighborhood association and a local church have partnered together to help bring a new community resource room to Mariposa Elementary.

Ruth Fox, president and REACH representative of Sunrise Ranch Neighborhood Area 6, has worked closely with Mariposa Elementary. When the school’s principal approached Ruth and her husband, Al Fox, about the idea of converting an existing classroom space into a community resource room for local parents to use, Ruth and Al took the idea to Craig Sweeney, lead pastor of Heights Church.

“It sounded like a great opportunity,” Sweeney said.

In an interview with The Sentinel, Fox said her research had found that community rooms are a great opportunity for disadvantaged parents to build positive relationships with school staff and other community members.

Fox, along with the school’s principal, anticipate utilizing the room as a place where parents can use a computer to apply for jobs, communicate with their child’s teacher, or gather information for personal needs. Both want the room to be a neutral location where the principal, teachers and other staff can meet with parents whose students are in special education, parents of ESL students, or with social services members who work with San Juan Unified children and families.

“It goes back to helping the child, and that’s where our heart is,” Fox said, noting that a lot of parents don’t have internet access satisfactory enough to help themselves or their child.

The school’s principal could not be reached for comment before press time.

Al Fox said Heights Church has provided an overall budget of $4,000 to spend on the project. He, along with other volunteers from the church, helped paint the room. Many community members have donated items like furniture and children’s toys, bringing down the overall cost.

Ruth Fox said she wanted the room to have a “warm atmosphere” and designed the layout to include a small children’s play area, a seating area with sofas for parents and other staff members to meet, and a small food closet. She has also created binders listing various social service resources that families can access and utilize.

The school district has provided a laser printer and four computers to be used in the room.

“Our heart as a church is that if schools have this need, then we’d like to help,” Heights Church Outreach Director Sam Morrow said. The church has also helped in the past with distributing headsets to students during the pandemic, providing backpacks with school supplies and feeding the homeless.

“If you’re a church in the community and you left, would the community even notice?” Sweeney said. “I wanted our community to say, we noticed the void.”

The community resource room is expected to be complete and ready to use in a few weeks. Mariposa Elementary is also planning to hire someone to come in two hours a day to assist parents who are using the room’s resources.

Related: This new nonprofit is helping in-need students get shoes in Citrus Heights

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