If you’re eating at Poverty Bay Cafe on a Tuesday and find yourself surrounded by a crowd, you might have stumbled across The Mirror’s monthly open house.
More than 20 community members joined staff of The Mirror on Nov. 21 at Poverty Bay Cafe for the monthly Hot off the Presses event, where Mirror staffers and guest speakers talk about all things Federal Way.
This month the speakers included Mirror reporter Ben Ray, who covers sports for Sound Publishing’s Federal Way, Auburn, Kent and Renton papers. He shared some insight into his reporting style, including how he decides what games to cover.
“I try to make sure that I do a story on every school throughout the season,” he said.
Community speakers at the most recent open house included Carlecia Bell of Phenomenal She and Winston Bell of Game of Life Mentoring. Both have created nonprofits in Federal Way that work with youth, specifically youth of color, and provide mentorship, community, resources and personal development.
Bell’s organization focuses on using basketball as a tool for engagement with Federal Way youth and young adults. With his background as a family therapist, he and the other mentors bring support through the game.
The organization focuses on basketball, but has a variety of programs and events, including a weekly dinner where participants all prepare a meal and eat together.
Bell described the importance of creating safe spaces for connection and building relationships between people who otherwise might not know each other. One sign that made him know that he was making an impact was when “these so called tough guys” started “bringing their babies.”
“We hear a lot about violence, but what we don’t hear about enough is what great people we have here in our community,” he said.
Carlecia Bell and Icea Pettigrew of Phenomenal She shared more about their programs. They also focus on building mentoring relationships with youth and trusted adults, but focus on young women and girls. They host a variety of activities to support skill development, and also provide access to activities like rock climbing or an upcoming snowshoeing event.
They host fundraisers and support the community through activities such as their recent Thanksgiving meal giveaway and a pop-up shop style clothing giveaway.
Since the pandemic, Phenomenal She also been giving away 300 hot meals a week to community members. Their upcoming Toys for Tots giveaway is tentatively set for Dec. 16, and they are looking for volunteers to help wrap gifts.
Their current program can serve around 45 girls at a time, but individual groups or events are often capped around 10-15 people because of the size of their space.
At their first fundraiser, Carlecia Bell said they gave two pay-it-forward awards to two women who were part of their first set of mentees. They stayed in the program through high school and college, and have come back and are now paid instructors.
During the open conversation portion of the event, many shared their thoughts and concerns about what is important to them in the community.
Diversity Commission member and community leader Trenise Rogers shared that there needs to be more ways to get involved with the community and make your voice heard. She and others also said they want to see more positive stories about good things that organizations are doing in Federal Way and stories about what is working.
Check it out
The Hot off the Presses community open house is an opportunity for the staff of The Mirror to share behind the scenes information about recent stories and upcoming work. It is also an open forum where the staff can ask attendees about what is important to them as far as coverage of the community. At least one community speaker shares something relevant to Federal Way community members.
The next Hot off the Presses event runs 1-2:30 p.m. Dec. 19 at Poverty Bay Cafe, 1108 South 322nd Place Federal Way.