Nash Neighbors

Nash Neighbors

“In my family, we work really hard to take care of each other. You have helped to take care of us, too. I think that makes you like family. We are very grateful for everything you have given us… I hope the help you gave us makes you as happy as it made my family!”– Jasmine, Nash Student

The “Nash Neighbors” program is a partnership between St. Mark’s UMC and E.C. Nash Elementary School which began in late 2002 when St. Mark’s decided to ‘adopt’ Nash Elementary. Located in the Amphitheater School District, in one of Tucson’s lowest socio-economic areas, Nash has a 95% ‘free and reduced’ lunch rate and 50% student turnover. Seventy-two percent of the students come from homes where English is not their primary language. ‘Nash Neighbors’ seeks to assist in filling the needs of these underprivileged children, and to help the teachers and staff. What began as volunteers in the classroom has grown into a multi-faceted program, administered by the Nash Neighbors Committee — a sub-committee of St. Mark’s Missions Committee.


Children at Nash Elementary School

The “Nash Neighbors” program now consists of numerous projects with a lot of opportunities for individuals and groups to get involved. The projects are funded by individuals who give (separate from their general budget pledge) to the designated Nash Fund, along with contributions from the Tucson Community Food Bank, various grants and corporate sponsors and May’s “Mission Offering.”


Mission – Vision – Values

Mission Statement: Realizing school resources are inequitable; we exist to help the Nash community realize others care by providing intervention and support.

Scriptural Mission Statement: Mark 9: 36-37 (New Living Translation) 36Then he put a little child among them. Taking the child in his arms, he said to them, 37″Anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes my Father who sent me.”

Vision: To promote social justice while leading by example.

Values: As St. Mark’s Nash Neighbors, we will live the example of Christ by reaching out to the Nash community — showing mercy and kindness, and seeking justice.


How to Volunteer

The committee oversees a large number of projects that need coordinators for the coming school year. Do you hear a call to be a part of St. Mark’s inspiring mission at Nash Elementary? The Nash Neighbors Committee is an excellent way to support Nash, without necessarily going to the school site. Nash Neighbors organizes all of the church’s efforts for the program via monthly meetings at the church. Please consider sharing your time and talents by serving on the Nash Neighbors Committee, or as a volunteer in any of our special project areas. Contact Cris Mayerle, for more information, suggestions or questions.

Volunteers in the classroom at Nash Elementary School Volunteers in the classroom at Nash Elementary School Volunteers in the classroom at Nash Elementary School


On-site Volunteers

The very first effort in St. Mark’s partnership with Nash Elementary was a drive to put volunteers into classrooms and offices where Nash staff wanted support. Volunteers help wherever help is needed, from tutoring and reading to children, assisting teachers in the classroom and in the office, or helping in the cafeteria. On-campus volunteering continues to be one of the foundations of our Nash Neighbors program, and we always welcome new volunteers. Volunteer opportunities range from once a week to once a month. To sign up, or for more information, contact Melinda Sims, NOTE: All new volunteers must have their fingerprints taken and cleared by the Amphitheater School District before beginning work in the classroom. The process takes approximately 4 weeks to complete. You can get further information on this requirement by contacting Melinda.



Providing backpacks to Nash Elementary Students is a great way to volunteer.

For many years now, St. Mark’s has provided students at Nash Elementary School with new backpacks and supplies to start the year off right. Our goal is to help them have a successful learning experience, without having to worry about having the proper supplies. For several years, we held a Backpack Festival, but last year, we switched to a new plan. Each teacher will receive a box full of all the basic supplies, to use or distribute as needed. And new, empty backpacks will be available at the school for any student who needs one. For more information on how to donate supplies or how to volunteer, contact Mary Kozlov, Supplies can be dropped off on Sundays at church. There is a Nash Supply Box by the rolling donation cart in the courtyard. Or, drop donations off during the week in the office. No donation is too small — ALL is appreciated!


Snack-pack Program

When you read the Nash story, you’ll see we often quote the statistic about the school having a 95% “free and reduced lunch rate” as an indicator of the relative poverty level of the Nash family. What is perhaps so obvious that we don’t mention it is that that statistic also speaks to the level of hunger those families must endure. Many children eat consistently only because the school feeds them, which occurs only when school is in session. What happens to these families on weekends? They likely do not eat well. Imagine doing homework, or worrying about AIMS tests, on an empty stomach!! The Snack Pack program sends home a backpack filled with food staples and snacks to 120 students each Friday afternoon to help feed their families over the weekend.

If you’d like more information, or would like to be on the team running the Snack Pack program, contact Bonnie Sargent (


Teacher Appreciation

We believe that the morale and welfare of Nash teachers is an essential ingredient for classroom success and have therefore created a Teacher Appreciation program that reminds the staff how much we love and appreciate them. Previous school year Teacher Appreciation events included providing fruit baskets for all teachers, filling coffee mugs with goodies for each teacher, ensuring that each member of the staff received a Valentine treat, and closing the school year with a week of events that included estimation games, scavenger hunts, and other activities rewarded with small mementos and gift certificates. The Teacher Appreciation program also outfitted the Teachers’ Lounge and restroom with tablecloths, coffee makers, attractive photos, and many other items to make it more comfortable and pleasant. Most recently, we have provided a “Thank You Breakfast” for the teachers during the week of Thanksgiving. To discuss more about Teacher Appreciation, please contact Cris Mayerle,


Holiday Help

Since 2004, individuals from the St. Mark’s community have “adopted” families at Nash Elementary at Christmas through the Holiday Help program. Adopted families receive gifts of food, clothing, household items and toys through this Nash Neighbor’s program. Beginning in September, you will see Nash Neighbors gear up to support our Nash partners for Christmas, so we can assure them a bright holiday season. Our goal is to have as many Nash families as possible actually “adopted” by a St. Mark’s family to further our goal of personalizing Nash needs to our St. Mark’s congregants (see our committee values statement). Marsha Dean shepherds this special project. If you’d like to help her with our holiday planning, or get on the list to support a family at Nash this coming Christmas, please contact Cris Mayerle,


Kinder-Desert Garden (a past project)

Since the kindergartners study the desert, our Nash partners expressed a vision to have a desert garden on-site. St. Mark’s member, Clay Thompson (an award-winning landscape architect), provided the design for a native desert specimen garden, and district approval was secured. The “Marks Brothers” (a men’s fellowship and mission group from the church) and others interested worked with Nash to bring the garden to fruition. Garden layout, topography, and irrigation installation took place on January 31, 2004, and initial planting occurred on February 7, 2004. Since original plans for the garden were for a 3-year period, additional plantings in the garden occurred in early 2005, and the final occurred on March 25, 2006.



To promote continued learning during the summer months, St. Mark’s provides Nash children with ‘play school at home’ bags. These bags are filled with school supplies and books to encourage children to “play school at home,” thus keeping up their skills. This is a recurring project that culminates with bags of supplies being distributed to the children at the very end of the school year. To continue the cycle again for each school year, we are always seeking sewers and looking for sturdy fabric (1/2 yard for each bag) and thread donations. Our goal is to provide 650 “play school at home” bags to Nash children near the end of each school year. We are currently looking for a coordinator for this project. If you’re interested in coordinating this project, please contact Cris Mayerle,


Print Cartridge Recycling

St. Mark’s UMC collects empty inkjet printer cartridges and sends them in to Empties4Cash for $2.00 per cartridge, on average. Collection boxes are in the church office workroom and on the rollaway donation cart in the courtyard each Sunday, as well as on the Nash campus. Contact Jodi Lucio at for more information.


Group Projects

If your group is looking for a one-time, occasional, or on-going service project, please consider helping Nash. So far, Sunday school classes, men’s and women’s groups, Disciple classes, etc. have helped with projects such as organizing on-going clothing drives for the Amphi Clothing Bank, providing emergency food and hygiene items, painting the 3rd-grade hallway, building a ‘picture library” to assist in teaching vocabulary to non-English speakers, and buying uniforms. Contact Cris Mayerle,, for a listing of available service projects.