Community Partner Spotlight- The Sanctuary on 8th Street

The Sanctuary on 8th Street

Name and credentials:
Jamie Stater, BA from Florida State University, certified teacher

As the Associate Director, I assist the Executive Director with planning and implementing programming for after-school and summer camp students, as well as with development/fundraising activities. Other responsibilities include tracking program income and expenses, applying for and managing grants, monitoring program data, coordinating volunteers, and managing our social media accounts. I am also fortunate to be able to take an active role with our students during the after-school program hours.

A brief background on what your organization does?
The Sanctuary on 8th Street is a non-profit after-school program and six-week summer camp for children living primarily in the Springfield neighborhood. We provide a safe place, a “sanctuary” for these children to play, do homework, and participate in academic and enrichment activities on a daily basis. We strive to be a place of love and to build lasting relationships with our children and their families. We have a strong focus on social and emotional learning, and work with our students to improve behavior, encouraging them to “work hard, be nice, and have a positive attitude”.

How many children do you serve?
Our after-school roster currently contains 50 children, but on a given afternoon, we typically serve between 40 and 45 students. During our six-week summer camp, we increase the number of children served to about 75.

What population of children do you serve?
Our children currently range in age from Kindergarten to 8th grade. Nearly all of our students attend high-poverty schools and live in generational poverty. Many of them have experienced some form of trauma. Students and their families often experience community violence and many have challenging home situations. Most experience food insecurity either on a regular or intermittent basis. Through our tutoring program and relationship building, we strive to help our students reach or exceed their grade level with reading and math.

What are the benefits you see of having Kids in the Kitchen (KITK)?
The Kids in the Kitchen program exposes our kids to healthy food options and teaches them about nutrition in a fun way. It also teaches them about cooking and preparing food and gets them excited about trying new things, especially when they had a part in preparing it themselves. Our students of all ages definitely look forward to having the KITK volunteers come to the Sanctuary!

How does the Junior League of Jacksonville’s commitment helps you, the staff and the children/families?
We are grateful for our partnership with the Junior League of Jacksonville and for the opportunity to host the KITK program! They always bring plenty of volunteers and supplies to ensure any kid who wants to participate is able to, and the volunteers are always energetic and great at interacting with the students. In addition to providing an enriching and fun activity during after-school hours, KITK also helps our students learn about nutrition and cooking, which they can then bring back to their families and which will hopefully stick with them as they grow up. Education about food and nutrition is critical in helping children and families live healthier lifestyles.

When Junior League volunteers come to the Sanctuary, we know we will be able to rotate through groups of students in a fun, engaging, and delicious activity with trusted adults, allowing staff to devote more attention and supervision to groups in other activities, or working with individual students on behavior improvement.