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Planting Seeds with Jen Fife-Adams

Dr. Stafford chats with Jen Fife-Adams, one of the founding members of Planting Seeds, a community organization dedicated to supporting children and families in need. They take a special interest in refugee families by providing food and other essential supplies as that population can be apprehensive about asking for the help they need.

To learn more about Planting Seeds, visit

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Dr. Stafford: Hi, I'm Dr. Michelle Stafford here with the Mixed Dentition podcast. And my special guest today is Jen Fife-Adams. How are you doing?

Jen Fife-Adams: I'm doing great Michelle. How are you?

Dr. Stafford: Good. Nice to see you.

Jen Fife-Adams: Good to see you too.

Dr. Stafford: And we've known each other for a long time.

Jen Fife-Adams: We have. So we actually met 10 years ago when ...

Dr. Stafford: That's so long.

Jen Fife-Adams: Yeah. So I started bringing my daughters here as your patients.

Dr. Stafford: Yeah.

Jen Fife-Adams: And so we've just had that connection for that long.

Dr. Stafford: So great. I've known you longer than I've had children.

Jen Fife-Adams: Yes.

Dr. Stafford: That's awesome.

Jen Fife-Adams: Yes you have.

Dr. Stafford: That's awesome. So I wanted to talk to you today about an organization that you started called Planting Seeds.

Jen Fife-Adams: Yeah. So I started it with a bunch of other parents in January of 2017. And I think that your listeners can probably remember really well that there was just a lot of fear and nervousness in the world about how our immigrant friends were being treated.

Dr. Stafford: Yes.

Jen Fife-Adams: And so what we had noticed at Sexton Mountain Elementary here in Beaverton, Oregon was that we had a number of refugee and asylum seeker students who after we had a big blizzard during that winter and so the kids were off a number of days of school.

Dr. Stafford: That's right.

Jen Fife-Adams: And the first day back the kids in that particular program came running back into the building so that they could get breakfast.

Dr. Stafford: Yes.

Jen Fife-Adams: And so our principal noticed that when they were out of school they probably weren't getting all of the food that they needed. And so she reached out to me and these other parents and retirees and just really cool community members and said, can you figure out a way to help support these families? And so we've been going strong for the past couple of years now doing that.

Dr. Stafford: Wow, that's wonderful. That is wonderful.

Jen Fife-Adams: Yeah.

Dr. Stafford: Yeah, I've read quite a few articles regarding the homelessness in Beaverton of children.

Jen Fife-Adams: Right.

Dr. Stafford: Kids that are couch surfers or not in a stable home environment.

Jen Fife-Adams: Right. And so the statistics tell us that in the city of Beaverton, which is otherwise a really wealthy city doing quite well that we have over 2500 students who are considered homeless. And while that's not true homelessness, that is a lot of couch surfing, that's a lot of apartment sharing. It's still the greatest number of students in the state of Oregon that are considered homeless. And so we do some support through Planting Seeds because the amount of crossing between our refugee and asylum seeker students who are also homeless is pretty high. And so we reach out to those populations and then when other homeless students are also having problems we also provide support in whatever way that we can.

Dr. Stafford: Oh that's really great. And for our listeners who would like to get more involved, how can we get more involved with your organization and to support students in Beaverton and really help the community understand this problem with homelessness and children who need our help in eating regularly and all the things that go along? If you don't have a stable home environment, it's going to be really hard for you to be successful in school as well.

Jen Fife-Adams: Right. And that's definitely something that we've noticed. So one easy way to just find out more about our organization is to go to And then you'll find out about some of the things that we do within the community. For those who are actually local to the Portland area and very interested in helping students in Beaverton, the HELP Center, and that's H-E-L-P all capitalized, which is located very near to Beaverton High School just provides immediate support for homeless students because we have a lot of homeless students that are based kind of in the central Beaverton area. So it's an easy walk-in location for them to go and I know that big needs that they have and they often ask us for this help are for hygiene bags. So if you have extra travel soaps, travel shampoos, deodorant, passes to any of our local pools so that the kids can go in and shower, they are so happy to take those donations.

Jen Fife-Adams: Another thing that we do with them as an organization is that we provide moveable bedding. And so we want something that's going to be more than a sleeping bag. And so people who have perhaps extra twin sheets, extra pillows, extra blankets, our organization and the HELP Center are very, very happy to take your donations of those items.

Dr. Stafford: Oh that's great. That is great. I think that would be great to do with families out there. You travel and you go to these hotels and you end up with those shampoos and the soaps and the things that we all bring home with us. And just gathering those and bringing them to the HELP Center so they go to kids that actually need them I think would be really great.

Jen Fife-Adams: Right. And in fact, I'd recommend if you want to involve students, which is something that Planting Seeds loves to do is to actually work with students in their schools and particularly elementary school students because it's really kids that young have an incredible amount of compassion.

Dr. Stafford: Yes.

Jen Fife-Adams: And so we've done programs with both German international school, Sexton Mountain elementary and Scholls Heights elementary where we've actually done these projects and we've asked the kids to have their own donation drive within the school to bring all of those travel items together along with snacks. So granola bars are always a great item. And then at German International school they do a great job where they'll get those gallon size bags and they'll put little packets together with all those travel size items along with some granola bars. And then that's something very easily that folks at the HELP Center can hand out when a kid comes in.

Dr. Stafford: Oh that's really great. That is great.

Jen Fife-Adams: Yeah.

Dr. Stafford: Well I know here at World of Smiles we would like to help by donating toothbrushes and toothpaste and oral hygiene.

Jen Fife-Adams: Right, which we love. And you've done that before and we've loved being able to share that with our friends at the HELP Center.

Dr. Stafford: Yeah and just ... Obviously I'm passionate about oral hygiene and just helping kids in general and being involved in the community. So I really appreciate what you're doing and the fact that you started this organization in such a pivotal time in our history as well I think is really wonderful. Is there anything else you'd like to share about the organization?

Jen Fife-Adams: Just that if you have a feeling in your heart that you want to start something and you're trying to figure out how you or your family or your business can help, it's so easy to just talk to some of these local organizations. And the more people that you gather together, the easier it can make to have these donation drives because it's amazing when you have love mixed from a lot of people that there's so much that you can get done. And just to give you one other example of what our group has done over the last couple of years, and it's something that any group can do, is that we've reached out to families through Giving Trees, but have also reached out to offices. So we've worked with Nike, we've worked with some of the local dentist offices. And we have figured out what our refugee and asylum seeker families need during the winter months.

Jen Fife-Adams: And so we're able to provide them either with Christmas gifts or if that isn't part of their tradition, then we just see it as winter gifts for the season. And so last year we were able to help over 40 different families within the Beaverton school district.

Dr. Stafford: That's great.

Jen Fife-Adams: So whether they were homeless, whether they were refugees or asylum seekers, or just families who are going through a rough time, again, it's amazing what people can do when they just ban together to help others.

Dr. Stafford: Right. And it's so powerful to teach your kids that too. I know we adopt a family through our local church and go out together. And I take the kids and we pick out based on their list it's usually clothing and sometimes there's young kids on our list that we shop for. And we talk about why we're doing this and how we're helping other families and giving up part of what they would get for Christmas in order to give it to another family that needs it. So very powerful for families.

Jen Fife-Adams: Right, right. And I think that is awesome for younger kids, something that my middle schooler has done is she has picked out items from these families and she has used her own allowance to go out and buy ... She loves buying art supplies and giving art supplies to kids because again, if you are barely making it, there's no way that you're going to get any extras like art supplies.

Dr. Stafford: Right.

Jen Fife-Adams: And so that's something that she has felt really deeply about. And I love that she's done that.

Dr. Stafford: That's really sweet. Yeah. Like you said, that's where the love comes in and just putting that love out into the world and really teaching your kids how to give that love they're feeling to other families. And understanding what other families are going through and being able to understand compassion.

Jen Fife-Adams: Right. It's so important for kids to learn that compassion and empathy and really we as adults can role model that.

Dr. Stafford: Yes.

Jen Fife-Adams: But I think when you're young that's the best time to learn those skills because we want our children when they grow up to be compassionate adults.

Dr. Stafford: Yes.

Jen Fife-Adams: And so if the lesson starts at home, or within your church community or school community, or in scouting, any way that it happens, I think that those are kids who grow up to be adults who make really lovely choices to help the rest of the world.

Dr. Stafford: I agree. That is a wonderful gift that you can give your kids to learn compassion and empathy and share that as a family.

Jen Fife-Adams: Right.

Dr. Stafford: Yeah, really wonderful. Well, thank you Jen for being on our podcast today. I appreciate you and all the work you've done in our community. And I look forward to being involved and chatting with you more.

Jen Fife-Adams: Great. Thank you so much for having me Michelle.

Dr. Stafford: Thank you. Thanks for everyone for listening. Bye.


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