I learned a lot at the Elders Supports and Services Event


This week I had the pleasure of attending the South Puget Intertribal Planning Agency (SPIPA) Elders Supports and Services Event at the Little Creek Casino Convention Center, and as usual, I learned a lot.

I attended as a volunteer for the Olympia Host Lions Low Vision Resource Center, where our club provided vision screening for the tribal elders, with the assistance of Dr. Mary Ferris, Optometrist, and co-owner of Rainer Eye in Chehalis.

Dr. Ferris is one of the only eye doctors specializing in low vision and has been working with our club since she had an office in Olympia. Her expertise is well worth the trip to Chehalis if you suffer from vision loss. You can contact her at

FESS, providing family support systems:

I also met Nate Gonez, the Community Engagement Coordinator for FESS, Family Education and Support Services. Their mission statement is “To inspire healthy child development through the provision of quality family support services.”

FESS offers classes and programs on parenting, fatherhood, dealing with divorce, parents with a drinking problem, and domestic violence in the home; assisting parents in supporting children who have witnessed, or have been affected by domestic violence.

They also have a Kinship Program, for grandparents and other family members raising children. Their Kinship Navigators Program works to advance activities and trainings that support Kinship care providers, their families, and the professionals who work with them.
In addition to these and other programs, they offer a Peer Mentor Program which supports children and families who have entered the child welfare system. This program provides early outreach, education, support and mentoring through parent allies.

The FESS regional resilience center – the Thurston County office is located at 6840 Capitol Blvd. SE in Tumwater and their website is


The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) Care-a Van is a mobile, no-cost vaccination and health service provider to community-based organizations across the state, to help increase access to vaccines and other health service needs. They attend events like the one held by SPIPA and the larger the event the better.

They provide the following:

  • COVID-19 vaccinations for ages 6 months and older, both primary and booster doses
  • Mpox (Monkeypox vaccinations for ages 18 and older
  • Flu Vaccines for ages 6 months and older while supplies last
  • Childhood vaccines for ages 3 years and older
  • Blood Pressure and blood glucose screenings
  • Help with supplies and equipment needed to host in or outdoor clinics
  • Help with flyers and outreach to promote your event

If you or your organization is planning a health fair you can find more information at

Link to Care WA:

Link to Care WA is powered by the Community Health Network of Washington (CHNW) –an affiliation of 21 community health centers across Washington that operate more than 140 clinics. CHNW’s goal is to get more people connected to health care by providing them with the tools and support they need to access and manage care online and by phone.

They offer the following services:

  • Provide a low-cost phone, and walk you through learning to use it.
  • Connect you to discounted internet.
  • Help you feel confident using online resources to stay healthy.
  • Set you up to visit your doctor by phone or video call
  • Get support from hotline staff at 866-757-1832 (TTY:711) Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For information on how to sign up for this service go to

I was very impressed with the event and really enjoyed finding new services we can all benefit from.  The speakers from the Crime Victims Advocacy Network, and Statewide Health Insurance Benefits Advisors, brought good information for everyone.

Last, but not least, we all enjoyed the performance by Yvette Duenas Aponte and Students from Chief Leschi Schools Culture Class.

Congratulations to Kyle Rogers, SPIPA Executive Director and Debbie Gardipee, SPIPA Community Resources Manager for a job well done.


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