Bringing TOGETHER! Some of South Sound’s Most Exceptional Women


Despite the chaos of everyday life, one simple act can unite us all, like honoring the strong, dedicated, caring, hardworking women in our lives. Since 2017, Olympia Soroptimists have honored the best and brightest with their annual South Sound Exceptional Woman Award. This year two of those honorees are TOGETHER! team members and leading voices within the Tumwater Community Schools (TCS) program.

Six female members of the TOGETHER! team standing outside for a group photo.
The TOGETHER! team works hard to support local kids and families, including through their Tumwater Community Schools program. Photo courtesy: TOGETHER!

Olympia Soroptimists Honor South Sound Exceptional Women

This annual award spotlights women who go the extra mile. TOGETHER!’s nominees are TCS Director Sierra Abrams and Community Schools Manager Courtney Prothero. TCS helps students meet basic needs both at home and school so they’re free to learn, grow and thrive. 2023’s awards will be given at the first in-person banquet after a four-year pause. The festivities take place on Saturday, May 6 at the Indian Summer Golf and Country Club. Doors open at 6 p.m. and presentations start at 7 p.m. Grab your ticket now and come celebrate local heroes including these two TOGETHER! heroes.

Like the Soroptimist organization, TOGETHER! celebrates community and works to make change for youth and families. They work hard to advance educational justice, centering the values of equity, community, and systems change. Their Community Schools programming uses Community Resource Centers within local schools. These provide basic need items and wraparound services to combat ongoing barriers to education and wellbeing. TOGETHER! partners with Tumwater School District, North Thurston Public Schools (through the Club House program, which includes Community Schools model work to meet basic needs for students and families), local churches, teachers, service clubs, foundations, nonprofits, tribes and other government entities, and students to help manage and maintain physical and mobile pantries full of items children and families need most.

Tumwater Community Schools Manager Courtney Prothero: Removing Barriers to Education

Mom of three and married to her college sweetheart, Courtney Prothero joined the TCS team as manager in 2018. She’s seen the program change and grow throughout the pandemic but still finds herself extremely proud of all they continue do for children and families.

Tumwater Community Schools Manager Courtney Prothero, being given flowers by TOGETHER! Executive Director Meagan Darrow, was nominated for a South Sound Exceptional Woman Award. Photo courtesy: TOGETHER!

“The most inspiring part of my job with Tumwater Community Schools is the case management,” says Prothero. “I really love working with students and families to help remove barriers and advocate for change in the systems that aren’t working in their best interest.”

Outside of TCS, she is president of 4 The Love Foundation, a nonprofit that provides groceries, holiday gifts, hotel stays and warm clothing to families in need. “TCS and 4 The Love Foundation have a common goal of helping people needing a step up by removing barriers in their lives,” says Prothero. But more is always needed. “As most people realize, our community needs available housing. I work with many families needing to find housing as well as many who are living in their vehicles or staying with someone temporarily. Children deserve a safe, stable living environment and when they have that, they are much more likely to thrive in every aspect of their lives.”

TCS Director Sierra Abrams: Building Stronger, Healthier Youth and Community

“TOGETHER!’s values of equity and systems change inspire me the most,” says Abrams, “we are not just putting band-aids on our community’s issues, but really asking ourselves how to get to the root of the problem and change systems to build healthier, stronger youth and community.”

Sierra Abrams, TCS Director, was also nominated and is here celebrated by TOGETHER! Board President Katherine Flynn. Photo courtesy: TOGETHER!

She feels humbled to be nominated for this award. “It feels very special to be recognized by my community for the work I care so much about,” says Abrams. “The South Sound Exceptional Woman Awards show that there are so many amazing women in this community, working together to move ourselves and each other towards a truly equitable world.”

Both Abrams and Prothero hope their recognition shines a spotlight on the TCS program and very real needs within our community. “We have an incredible team of staff working every day in the Tumwater schools, mobilizing and meeting people literally and figuratively where they are at,” says Abrams, “whether that’s meeting a student during their lunch at school, or after a parent’s workday at a local coffee shop. We go where the people need us, eliminating the barriers between schools and the community, so that all of a student’s or family’s needs are met and they can thrive.”

You Can Help Bring Thurston County Families TOGETHER!

Everyone is invited to the Soroptimist award ceremony. But you can also help with your next trip to the grocery store or Amazon order. TOGETHER! has a wish list of items and ways to contribute directly to those who need it most.

During a spring fundraising challenge, TwinStar Credit Union is matching donations for TOGETHER!’s Swift Fund. Or consider buying something for their Community Schools Donation Drive via Amazon. Swift Funds are used for a variety of needs including eye exams or new glasses, sports fees, or helping a low-income student attend a school dance.

Then donate your time as a volunteer or even board member. Their Governance Board meets just six times a year and members are invited to participate in committees that interest them. Committees focus on TCS, outreach and marketing, equity and a number of other crucial topics. Community members who are parents of school-aged children, identify as LGBTQ+, and folx who are BIPOC are encouraged to apply for open board seats.

Join this team of exceptional folks who keep our region TOGETHER! in celebrating Sierra Abrams, Courtney Prothero and all the hardworking women in your life.


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