My name is Erica Kreisler and I am one of the co-founders of the Chat and Chew Alliance.
There are a lot of great afterschool professionals living in the Kansas City area. We support numerous outstanding programs that help students achieve their best. However, there are few opportunities for afterschool professionals to network and to learn from each other. This got me thinking! What would happen if afterschool professionals were able to share their experiences as part of a learning community that supports their work? This initial thought eventually gave rise to a brand new resource for the Kansas City afterschool community: the Chat and Chew Alliance.
A year ago, I partnered with my colleagues, Sheryl Goldsy and Etola Berry to create the Chat and Chew Alliance. Our goal is to provide a resource to help afterschool staff to share ideas, and support their afterschool program's day-to-day functions, as well as each other. We serve the Kansas City area and enjoy the support of a range of programs. Members include: Cassie Hackett, Ryan Naylor, Amy King, Brad Hembree, Patti Ray, Kristi Fate, Dawn Butler, Gayle Quick, Janice Smith, Carolyn Hefner, Chriss Doherty, and Sherri Kuhn.
Members of the Chat and Chew Alliance have come to rely on this fantastic initiative. We meet about once a month to discuss our successes and concerns. Additionally, we hold training and informational sessions that address pressing issues for our community members. One session, "Student Behaviors and How to Make It Work for Afterschool Programs", came about because a member of the Chat and Chew Alliance wanted to explore successful strategies to address some behavioral issues in her program. The Alliance took notice and scheduled a day to discuss the issue. Our concerned member was ecstatic following the training session and said she was so excited to go back to work!
In addition to training sessions and "idea swapping", the Chat and Chew Alliance provides important networking opportunities for our participants. This is one of the most popular features of our program. Members can connect with one another to broaden their network. They have come rely on the insights gained from these networking sessions to improve and strengthen their programs. We have a set meeting place, but also travel to other sites.
We're extremely proud of what we've accomplished with the Chat and Chew Alliance so far and look forward to doing more for our afterschool professionals.
Many people sit around wishing they could change the lives of others. Here at the Chat and Chew Alliance, we're making that wish a reality by providing critical support to our afterschool professionals.