It Takes a Village

Dec 19, 2023

Entering the Village at Casino Road is like entering a happy beehive full of community resources for those living in south Everett’s Casino Road neighborhood. Casino Road is an urban neighborhood with busy roads, commercial buildings, and apartments full of young families. Many of them are new immigrants who are striving to build a better life. Accessing the services at the Village is one way they do that, including tapping into tutoring and translation programs. 

Knitting all these Village resources together is Connect Casino Road, a new Companis partner receiving volunteer assistance. Jillian Robinson, the Assistant Director of Connect Casino Road, calls CCR the backbone organization of the collaborative of nonprofits. “We have about 24 partner agencies, and CCR’s role is to convene these organizations to meet the needs expressed by the community. That involves bringing on new values-aligned partners, managing the shared program space, admin support, program promotion and doing what we can to make sure the programs offered at the Village get feedback from the community so that they are culturally relevant and linguistically accessible.” 

CCR also operates a case management program called “All Families Are Ready” which has a long-standing relationship with ChildStrive, another Companis nonprofit partner at the Village that focuses on early childhood intervention.

CCR is young, having formed in 2017, with a staff of nine. “Our first big project was to get a community center space renovated,” says Jillian.  The Village partners use the space for their programs, but it’s also available to community members. “It’s a space that can be used by Casino Road families to celebrate (baby showers, graduations, etc.) because most of them live in apartment complexes where they don’t have a large enough space to gather a big crowd.”

Jillian Robinson, Assistant Director of Connect Casino Road, at her desk in the Village.

Jillian says now that CCR has a solid continuum of programs and services, its next big push is to make itself known. “From a marketing standpoint, we want to put our best foot forward,” she says, “making sure that we’re sustainably funded and that the community knows what programs are offered here.” 

So Jillian met with Tia Lawson, Companis’ Program Manager for Snohomish County, to discuss the possibility of bringing on a Companis Worker to help with its marketing materials, both print and online. Their meeting was an easy one since Companis also has an office at the Village! 

Tia recommended Ying Guan, a full-time designer with a 16-month old son. Ying also creates sculptural art at a nearby maker’s space. 

When Ying and Jillian were introduced, Jillian says she could tell right away that it would be a perfect fit. “The whole time, I could see Ying’s wheels turning, talking to me about our colors and logo. We now check in every Friday to discuss what projects we want to focus on. She’s just always been so kind and gracious about giving us her time and using her professional skills to make our marketing content better.” 

Companis Worker, graphic designer and artist, Ying Guan.

Ying found Companis on the internet by searching for graphic design volunteer opportunities in the area. “I wanted a challenge outside of my job. I like creating things and I thought maybe there’s a way to be creative and also help people,” she says. 

Ying says she was drawn to the mission of Connect Casino Road and was interested in how nonprofits function. “I like to approach this work in a positive way, making the designs warm and welcoming.” 

In addition to designing marketing materials such as an info sheet about what CCR does, its collaborative partners, and how to support the organization, Ying has also created an eye-catching hand out that lists all of the community center resources at the Village. 

“The new design of the resource list is branded with our colors and is easy to read. Before, it was in a spreadsheet,” says Jillian. “Now, community members have something nice to take home and put on their refrigerator to remind them of what’s available here.”

Ying lights up when she hears that her redesign of the spreadsheet is going up on people’s refrigerators. “I’m glad people are using it. That’s exactly why I joined up to do this. I want to have fun and be useful.”



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