FTE Community First Project

In Eanes ISD, our schools are constantly working to help others. And, similar to the mission of Mobile Loaves & Fishes-we believe that people thrive in an environment based on dignity and respect. This made Community First a natural fit for Forest Trail Elementary's service project.

The project included several levels. It started when the FTE faculty organized a garage sale to raise $20,000 to sponsor building one house in the Community First Village. Community support was amazing so the campus looked for ways to get students more involved.

It became truly a community effort. Every student and teacher at Forest Trail Elementary contributed to Community First. Through participation, students learned to better appreciate how fortunate they are to grow up in Westlake, which in turn fostered pride in the Forest Trail community while learning firsthand how to contribute to a larger one. Students were able to be creative, inject personality, and work together to complete a variety of tasks that involved a multitude of subjects.

Community First! is a 27-acre master-planned community that will provide an innovative mix of affordable, sustainable housing and a supportive community for the disabled and chronically homeless in Central Texas. With as little as $20,000, you can build a house for one person in the new Community First Village.

"We are so fortunate to have so many organizations who have stepped up to the plate to support our goal of reducing homelessness in the Austin area," said Donna Emery, Director of Development for Mobile Loaves and Fishes, the nonprofit that runs Community First. "What is unique about our partnership with Forest Trail Elementary is that, in addition to raising funds to sponsor a house, their community committed to a long-running relationship with our residents by participating in varied projects that focus on the small touches that make these houses homes."

FTE Kindergarten and First Grade students practiced counting skills to sort office supplies and other essentials that go into the welcome bags residents receive upon move-in. Second and Third graders wrote special letters to the new home owners. Fourth and Fifth graders made decorative wreaths to hang on the front doors of the new homes. Students also helped to raise chickens, which will provide eggs to the residents. Activities for each grade level matched their Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) requirements.

Eanes ISD Superintendent Dr. Tom Leonard considers Forest Trail's efforts a challenge to other schools. "If other schools in Austin, across Texas, or around the country were to accept the challenge to mobilize their community around service-based education, the impact could be, and would be global. Consider this a call to action."

To learn more about Community First or Mobile Loaves and Fishes, please visit http://mlf.org/community-first/.