Team Outreach provides support and encouragement to Tulalip youth

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News 

The transition from adolescence into adulthood is no easy feat. The teenage years are filled with triumphs and numerous setbacks. In many Native communities, kids are exposed to much more pain growing up, witnessing their loved one’s attempt to fight through adversity and find ways to cope with the years of generational trauma that is embedded in our DNA. Sometimes we find healthy outlets to work through that trauma and other times we look for ways to escape it. In addition to finding their personal identity, studying, participating in social activities and preparing for college, Native youth face many similar challenges as the average teen, but arguably at a higher extent, such as depression, violence at school or at home, the pressure to abuse drugs as well as the loss of friends or family to suicide. 

Teens often need an extra bit of encouragement to help them through their periods of struggle. Many kids look to confide in somebody outside of their families, who can listen, relate and provide a positive perspective to help them keep pushing forward. Tulalip Outreach workers, Dakota (Cody) Monger and Cassandra Jimicum, are providing exactly that for several local youth of the community. 

The Family Haven program, Team Outreach, is designed to provide support to Tulalip youth, helping them accomplish their goals and get things back on track. Cody works with the young men of Tulalip between the ages of thirteen and twenty-two, while Cassandra works with the young ladies between fourteen and twenty-two. The teens learn how to set, prioritize and accomplish both short and long term goals while also receiving assistance with recovery, physical and mental health, legal issues, obtaining a driver’s license, money management and resumes. The program assists high school students get re-enrolled if they dropped out of school and also helps those who wish to transfer schools within the Marysville School District. 

“We will help them with everything and anything really,” says Cody “It’s like a role model program or a mentorship. Everything you can think of that our youth needs, we cover it like self-esteem, or if they’re suicidal and too scared to talk with somebody about it. It’s hard to pinpoint a specific area we work on, but we work at their pace. The biggest thing is we want to earn their trust and just be real with them, like call their bluff out or if they’re doing something wrong, tell it to them like a friend would, like dude you’re messing up.”

“They set their own goals and we go at their pace,” adds Cassandra. “I just started in February and I’ve already helped my girls with TANF, I awarded a few shoe vouchers, I got one of my girls into Drivers Ed, I got two girls enrolled back in school and helped a girl get into counseling. We have a referral process and when we get referrals, we go out and just talk with them. They tell us everything they want to accomplish and then we narrow it down to two goals and then we work on those goals and once those are completed, we work on two more.”

Both Cody and Cassandra have seen a number of success stories from the youth who participate in their groups. They explained that they proudly watched several individuals overcome personal obstacles and achieve huge feats, rising to the challenge one issue at a time and getting things done. 

“I had a young man who posted every day that he didn’t want to be here,” Cody states. “It took about six to eight months pinpointing where the issue stemmed from. We had to break everything down, just so he could be happy again. Now the only thing he posts are messages saying ‘I’m doing fantastic, I’m going to school today or I love being a stepdad.’ He went from a deep, deep depression to being happy and thankful every day. He’s holding down a job, getting his GED, he became a stepfather and recently he’s started traveling more.  

“Another one of my guys got in a fight with a family member and literally barricaded himself in his room for months on end and had no communication with anybody, not even his mom. Now he’s into classical music, he’s holding B’s and A’s in school and is going to be doing a few concerts in the summer.”

The Outreach workers meet one-on-one with their teens on a weekly-basis, allowing them the chance to vent about any current difficulties they are experiencing as well as celebrate any new victories. Cody and Cassandra make the experience as smooth as possible for their clients by meeting them where they’re most comfortable, whether that’s at the Family Haven office, home, school, a coffee shop or a restaurant. 

Since Cody’s program has been established for a few years, many members of his group are well-acquainted with each other and have created a strong support system within the group. Cody also holds a study day on Wednesdays as well as an end-of-the week gathering, where those who wish to participate can meet up to talk about the week or participate in a physical activity together, like weight training or a pick-up game of basketball at the Marysville YMCA. As Cassandra’s program continues to gain momentum and additional participants, she also wishes to hold group gatherings throughout the week to enhance life skills with cooking and exercising classes as well as fun art and craft activities. 

Currently Cassandra is guiding six young ladies through the program and Cody is serving twelve young gentlemen on a consistent basis. They want to extend a friendly welcome out to other young adults in the area who can benefit from this program, as well as to those parents and teachers who may have someone in mind that could use a helping hand, and some encouragement to reach their full potential and beyond.

 “It’s important for our kids to know that there is somebody out there willing to go above and beyond for them, to help them through their darkest times,” expresses Cody. “I know sometimes it’s hard to reach out to ask for that peer support, or help in general. It’s a good feeling for them, knowing that there are people who are genuinely looking out for what’s best for them and their future.”

Nodding her head in agreement, Cassandra adds, “I feel the same way. It’s important that people know we are here to help our kids get back in school and that we are here to assist in any way we can to make sure they are successful in life.”

For more information about the Team Outreach program, please contact Family Haven at (360) 716-3284.

Moms Group is working to empower all mothers

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

Every Tuesday, Tulalip Family Haven hosts a two-hour gathering for expectant, new and experienced moms, as well as grandmothers and aunties who are currently caring for their younger loved ones. Known as Moms Group, the class was created over ten years ago in an effort to build community and empower local women of all ages who are raising children. The program is currently hosted at the old Tulalip elementary and has continued year-round since originally debuting, delivering a positive and powerful experience for its participants throughout the years.

“We are a support group that allows mothers and women raising kids the opportunity to come together,” says Sasha Smith, Family Voices Coordinator and Moms Group moderator. “We wish to provide a sense of belonging, a sense that there’s other women in our community to support each other. This is a place where we can come and just talk about motherhood and ask questions that are hard to ask your doctor or anybody in your family. They’re able to open up and just have a healthy discussion about childbirth, raising your children and adolescents. It gets the moms out of the house and gives them something to look forward to every week.” 

The group enjoys a home cooked meal prepared by Sasha at the beginning of each gathering while catching up with one another. The moms then participate in daily activities such as crafting, working on their baby books or simply taking in wisdom from a variety of guest speakers.

“Lushootseed comes in and teaches the language during the first week of the month,” Sasha stated. “We have nutritionists, Annie Jensen and Brooke Morrison (SNAP-ED), who teach about healthy foods, how to prep and cook food. They guide us through some exercises and talk about the importance of being active. We also do a lot of arts and crafts and just enjoy spending time together.”

Sasha explained that the group members participate in an incentive program in which they create baby books. Moms take the time to recount the events that happened during the week and mark down whenever they performed a positive task, whether it was in the best interest of their family, such as taking their child to their doctor’s appointments, or if they set aside some time to recalibrate, focusing on self-care with a relaxing bath or a refreshing walk outdoors. Their points are then tallied and converted into a credit in which the moms can spend at the Moms Group store, purchasing essential items such as diapers, clothing and car seats. 

Moms group, by extension of Family Haven, is currently in a partnership with Tulalip Community Health and WIC (Women, Infants and Children supplemental program) to help young mothers learn and sign-up for the WIC program, providing rides to those moms in need of transportation to the monthly WIC event in Tulalip. And as an added bonus, those who attend three WIC events receive a gift card incentive.

Kids are welcome to tag along with their moms to the group. One mom notes that it’s an excellent way for her children to interact, meet and have fun with other youth of the community. On special occasions, participants bring in their newborns to meet the ladies of the group whose voices they heard during their mother’s pregnancy while she attended Moms Group.

Family Haven would like to send a shout out to the Tulalip Charitable Fund who continues to support Moms Group by funding a program where moms can learn from each other’s experiences and lend advice, as well as few tips and tricks to other mothers who are bringing up the future generations. 

“I came because I wanted to get connected with other moms,” expresses young mother Alayna Helland. “This is my first child. I don’t know anything about being a mom, so I wanted to learn some basic things and get some advice from other moms. A lot of my questions have been about labor and anticipating that – like what to expect during the actual birthing process. I enjoy learning about other resources like WIC and we do a clothes trade here [at Moms Group] as well. The main thing though is support, you get to talk to other moms and get that support and feedback. It’s nice to have a place where you can go and the people are kind and in the same situation as you are.”

For more information about Moms Group or the monthly WIC event, please contact Family Haven at (360) 716-4402.

New support group designed to teach Native girls life skills

Tulalip Family Haven held an open house on April 10, for their new program, Girls Group, that is designed to be a support network for Native girls, ages 14-17. Photo/ Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News
Tulalip Family Haven held an open house on April 10, for their new program, Girls Group, that is designed to be a support network for Native girls, ages 14-17.
Photo/ Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News

Just for the girls

by Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News

TULALIP, WA. – Being young is one of the most thrilling times in a person’s life. It is the time frame between major responsibilities and no responsibilities at all, however, the decisions made during this phase can be hazardous to their future. Some decisions can destroy your life while others will define what type of an adult you will be. To help teen Native girls navigate this precarious time, a new group designed just for them through Tulalip Family Haven is providing Native girls the support they need to become the most successful person they can be.


The group, simply referred to as Girls Group, will offer Native girls, 14-17 years old, support in life skills, education, and cultural understanding. The group uses the Canoe Journey, Life’s Journey curriculum guide by June LeMarr and G. Alan Marlatt, which is a comprehensive evidence-based intervention curriculum guide for Native adolescents. The girls will be taught to make choices that promote positive actions while learning to avoid the hazards of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs.

“This is about intervention, prevention and education to keep girls away from hazardous lifestyles, while increasing their self-esteem and empowering their self-awareness to ensure they become successful adults,” said Yvette McGimpsey the group’s project director.

As part of the Girls Group curriculum, young girls will be introduced to different art mediums and crafting, such as the keepsake jars girls made during the Group's open house. Photo/ Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News
As part of the Girls Group curriculum, young girls will be introduced to different art mediums and crafting, such as the keepsake jars girls made during the Group’s open house.
Photo/ Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News

“The idea is to teach young Native women life skills, everything from how to cook and clean to budgeting finances, along with cultural awareness,” explained Sasha Smith the group’s lead youth advocate. “As we do our curriculum, we will be incorporating activities such as crafts and guest speakers from the community and from our elders. We will also be doing other education pieces such as sexual education, and dangers of alcohol and drug use.”

Curriculum will also include nutrition education through the Washington State University Nutrition Program, which uses an interactive approach through trained staff, to teach participants to develop skills and behavioral healthy eating. Community work, such as cleaning up beaches and visiting elders will also be included.

A health and beauty station was available during the Girls Group open house on April 10, where girls received hand massages, aromatherapy, and facial beautification.Photo/ Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News
A health and beauty station was available during the Girls Group open house on April 10, where girls received hand massages, aromatherapy, and facial beautification.
Photo/ Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News

“A simple day in the group would be, we pick them up from school, they will have time devoted to doing homework, then we do an activity such as art and craft making. Then we will all make dinner together and work on a lesson from the curriculum guide,” said McGimpsey.

“And that is the biggest thing, these girls may not have a healthy place to go after school or have homework help or have someone teaching them those critical life skills. This will be a safe place for them,” said Smith. “We will also be exposing them to things they would never get a chance to experience, such as the ballet or an art gallery,” continued Smith.

The group meets every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursdays and is free to join, and participants can be enrolled in the group until they graduate. A community advisory board, made up of youth advocate volunteers and professionals, will also evaluate the group’s progress monthly for effectiveness.

For more information on the Family Haven Girls Group or how to sign up, please contact lead youth advocate Sasha Smith at 360-716-4404.



Brandi N. Montreuil: 360-913-5402;


Tulalip tribal member Mandy Carter volunteered her gardening expertise to teach the girls how to plant their own vegetables and flowers during the Girls Group opening house held on April 10. Photo/ Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News
Tulalip tribal member Mandy Carter volunteered her gardening expertise to teach the girls how to plant their own vegetables and flowers during the Girls Group opening house held on April 10.
Photo/ Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News