A beloved program in the schools merges with DOVE Project

Vashon Sisterhood — a nonprofit offering programs to empower and mentor island girls and female-identifying students — has now become a part of the prevention education wing of the DOVE Project, on Vashon.

The merger, said the leaders of both organizations, came after a deeply thoughtful process, beginning in early 2021, with talks aimed at strategizing ways for Sisterhood to remain as a sustainable support to island youth.

It made sense to combine forces with DOVE, an organization with a mission to prevent violence and reduce interpersonal harm on Vashon, said both Betsey Archambault, Sisterhood’s executive director, and Heidi Jackson, DOVE’s executive director.

“We layer our prevention education programs from kindergarten to 12th grade with a focus of strategy on … shifting social norms of violence, skill-building around healthy relationships, consent, positive identity and self-image, leadership building, bystander intervention and building supportive environments to foster a sense of belonging,” said Jackson. “Sisterhood Circles fit perfectly into our comprehensive prevention programming.”

For the young people participating in Sisterhood programming at Chautauqua Elementary, McMurray Middle School and Vashon High School and other settings in the community, the experience will only strengthen, according to Archambault.

“We are confident that returning and new participants to community circles will continue to experience the deep care, connection and fun that they experienced as part of our original programming,” she said, adding that the co-founders of Vashon Sisterhood, Emmy Graham and Laura Camner, are now working under DOVE’s umbrella to facilitatate the program.

Vashon Sisterhood was founded in 2018 as an all-volunteer organization, in response to concerns about island adolescent substance abuse and mental health, and inspired by the model created for boys by Vashon’s Journeymen.

Marjorie Butcher, a Chautauqua Elementary School teacher, described Sisterhood’s place in many of its participants’ lives.

“This is just a place that you know is there for you, and a group of people that you know is there for you,” she said.

An image captured during a Sisterhood circle, at Chautauqua Elementary School. Courtesy photo

An image captured during a Sisterhood circle, at Chautauqua Elementary School. Courtesy photo