The List: Encompass’ Executive Director Nela Cumming

Helping others has been something Nela Cumming has been passionate about for a long time.

Cumming has worked in the social services field for more than 30 years. With bachelor’s and master’s degrees in social work from the University of Tennessee, as well as a Head Start Management Fellowship from UCLA Anderson School of Business, Cumming serves as Encompass’ executive director. Encompass is a longtime Snoqualmie Valley early-learning nonprofit and is one of the few organizations to provide early learning, pediatric therapy, and family enrichment programs for children ages 8 and under and their families on the Eastside.

Like many organizations, Encompass had to transition to virtual formats to continue caring for children and families when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Despite the challenges, Cumming said the best parts of working at Encompass are the people who make it a place where all are welcomed regardless of life circumstances, and children are loved and cherished.

Favorite Places

TO RELAX My backyard. The Oregon and Washington coasts are favorite places, as well.

FOR BREAKFAST We have so many great places to go. North Bend Bar & Grill for the pancakes, or The Roadhouse in Fall City for the amazing omelets and an ugly biscuit.

TO GRAB A COFFEE Aroma Coffee in Fall City

FOR DINNER The Attic at the Salish Lodge & Spa

TO BE INSPIRED Rattlesnake Lake — it is beautiful up there no matter what the season.

Courtesy of Isaac Ordaz via Unsplash

Inspiration Board

CURRENTLY READING I usually have several books going at once. Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell and The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd right now.

CURRENTLY LISTENING TO I love to listen to podcasts as I cook or do chores. The Daily, Unlocking Us, The Cut, and any of the NPR podcasts are favorites.

MANTRA YOU LIVE BY “Let whatever I did today be enough.”

HOBBIES My favorite thing to do is read — period. I also love to go on walks, and I am a pretty good cook, too. I am a big movie fan — I love going to the theater.

Q&A

Courtesy of the subject

HOW HAVE YOU (ALONG WITH ENCOMPASS) PIVOTED DURING COVID-19 TO HELP LOCAL FAMILIES? Like many organizations, we had to equip ourselves very quickly with the devices and learn how to use them. We have become adept in using Zoom or Teams to work together and provide services. Therapists and teaching staff had to learn a whole different way of doing their work. It is exhausting, and I am so proud of how well they have been able to adapt. We are seeing hundreds of children and their families every month, using mostly virtual tools. For children who cannot get what they need virtually — despite our best efforts — we are open for face-to-face services. We developed a whole set of policies and procedures that allow staff to work with children in-person as safely as possible.

WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF IN THE WORK YOU HAVE DONE THROUGH ENCOMPASS SO FAR? At Encompass, we believe that what happens early in life matters. I know that the world is a better place because of Encompass. The work we do is life-changing, and I am so proud to be a small part of it. We knew we could serve children in an environment that supports this work if we designed and built a state-of-the-art pediatric therapy center. So, we launched a capital campaign four years ago, and our new building, in Snoqualmie, will open summer of 2021. This facility and the work that will be done there are providing an incredible legacy in the Snoqualmie Valley and will help thousands of children.

WE’RE ALL UNDER A LOT OF STRESS RIGHT NOW, LIVING IN THIS CLIMATE OF GLOBAL UNCERTAINTY. WHAT HAS BROUGHT YOU JOY RECENTLY? Our rescue dogs Forrest and Buddy. Our two “knuckleheads” make me laugh every single day. They are just ridiculous, and I am glad to have them as co-workers.

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