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Marion social workers help out

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WARM WELCOME:Anita Brown, a social worker at Marion Community Schools, right, greets customer Rosalyn Turcott as she enters Culver’s on Monday.
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FOOD TRAYS: Cooper Spencer, a Culver’s crew member, left, hands Marion Community School social workers, Kayla Brooks, middle, and Cathrine Brattain food trays to hand to customers.

BY HEATHER COX - hcox@chronicle-tribune.com

Marion Community Schools social workers donned Culver’s blue aprons earlier this week, when they helped host a family night at the restaurant to raise funds and awareness.

The MCS social workers delivered food and cleaned up tables for three hours Monday night while the restaurant had face painting and other activities to draw families and kids to the event.

Cathrine Brattain, a social worker at Riverview Elementary School, organized the event and said they would receive a portion of whatever money was made between 5-8 p.m.

Brattain said she was inspired to do the fundraising event after Little Giants pre-school held a family night at the restaurant as well. The money raised will go toward bettering MCS social work services in the schools.

Brattain is in her second year as a social worker at Riverview after previously working with high school students. With her background in psychology and school counseling, she’s able to provide support in a variety of ways to Riverview’s students.

Helping students with coping skills and regulating emotions is one aspect of her job. This is paired with also being a resource for families if there’s a need in the household – whether it be for tangible items like clothing and food or for financial help – or even needing to relocate due to something that happened to their home.

“It really is different from day to day, none of my days are the same. But I am here as a support system for the students. If a student is having a tough day they can come and talk to me, I have a lot of calm down sensory toys and games and things they can color,” she said. “ … in the past I’ve had parents contact me if maybe there’s some issues with finances or ... some situations something has happened to the home and they’ve had to relocate.”

She said they act as bridges between families and resources that can be found in the community.

Anita Brown said she has been a social worker at Justice Thurgood Marshall Intermediate School for the past 34 years. She said every time it seems like every need has been met, a new need comes up, so being able to provide resources to help fill those needs and being able to show love to the students in the process is important.

“I think sometimes we spend an awful lot of time just listening. And sometimes we help with tangible things, sometimes we help with fixing problems, but we’re great listeners,” Brown said. “And I think a majority of our kids just need somebody to listen to them, so that’s a big part of what we do.”

Brown said she also sees her role as planting seeds. Though she may not see the potential growth that comes from it down the road, she said she’s okay with planting seeds of responsibility, kindness and love in hopes that it’ll all take root someday.

Brattain said the social workers enjoyed partnering with Culver’s and serving students and their families Monday night. She said they appreciate the support, and were able to raise a little more than $400.

Along with the funds raised from family night at Culver’s, Brattain said community members, organizations and churches donate items throughout the year. She has tubs of shoes, belts hats and gloves, a coat closet and a closet full of clothing and hygiene products they’re able to give to students and families as needed, along with the food pantry that each school has.

She added that there’s no such thing as too much help, either.

“We never turn away help, volunteers, mentors, resources, donations … (don’t be) discouraged and reach out to your local school if you feel like you’re being called to do that,” she said.