Monday, March 27, 2017

During the past two years in my role as Family Services Coordinator, I have observed many families’ stories. These stories are one that needed to be shared.

     * A pregnant mother at age 20, stuck in the cycle of financial abuse from her family, wanted so badly trying to find her own place to live. Her minimum-wage job at fast food restaurant barely paid the monthly rent, let alone anything else to provide for herself and her 2-year old daughter. A Crittenton staff member took it upon herself to help this young mother take an employment test online, as well as purchase her some items for her first apartment.  She bought her blankets, dishes, towels, etc. This teen said, “I don’t have much to give you to say thank you, but I want to buy you something.” She came in the next day with a coffee and a handwritten card that said, “I don’t get much help in my life. So when someone helps me, it means a lot. Thank you for doing this for me.”

*  With five children under age ten, this mother did not get much time to herself. Struggling with depression, our Parent educator brought the children “calming corner activities” and offered to make their next home visit at McDonald’s so the kids could play and get some energy out. When our parent educator offered to buy this mother lunch, she was nearly in tears. “We NEVER get to go out to eat,” she said. “I don’t even know what I would order.”

The families we serve deal with small crises every day. They live without secure housing, a living wage, their own transportation, and do not always know where their next meal is coming from.  Our role is to help lighten their load by strengthening the family unit. We are teaching parents the importance of play and quality time which are both powerful tools to help a child learn about the world around them as they form a secure attachment with their parent. We leave books at every visit to teach families how important literacy is to brain development from the time of birth. With weekly support visits, parent education, parent-child interaction activities, resource referrals, and goal-setting; our Parent Educators are changing the lives of two generations at a time. 

Weekly home visiting programs are a proven prevention strategy for breaking the destructive cycles of abuse and neglect. Last year, our Parent Educators provided 701 home visits at no cost to the families to fulfill our mission of protecting and nurturing children and families. 

 Sarah Chapman                                                                                                                               Family Services Coordinator

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

What A Day…Have you ever said to yourself what a day with a sigh?

Stock image to protect privacy of the family.

“What a day” she said with a sigh, as one mother explained her situation to our Crisis Nursery staff.  She and her child woke up on her sister’s couch.  Her sister is tired of them staying with her and tells her to find somewhere else to live.  The child is hungry, and there is no food in the cabinets.  She just started a new job and needs to be at work by 9:00 am.  At 7:30 am she calls Crisis Nursery to see if we have any openings for her child today.  She is not sure if there will be a space, but she knows she has to find somewhere for her child to go today because she can’t miss another day of work or she will lose her job.  This mother has no reliable source of child care until her child care application for assistance has been approved and it could be another three weeks before approval. 

She is thankful her child can be cared for in the Nursery today.  She doesn’t own a car; therefore, she needs to be on the bus by 7:45 am.  She gets on the bus; drops her child off at Crisis Nursery; waits for another bus to pick her up; transfers buses; and punches into work 3 minutes late.  Her boss is not happy.  She works until 5:00 pm, and then gets back on the bus to pick up her child at Crisis Nursery. The Crisis Nursery coordinator meets with her to help her find a way out of this crisis.  First the Crisis Nursery staff provides referrals to shelters then introduces the mother to our Child Development Center (Daycare) coordinator to help her with finding reliable child care, and finally gives her some food for her child. 

Upon leaving, she misses the bus and has to entertain the child for a half hour before another bus arrives.  She finally gets on the bus and returns to her sister’s at 7:30 pm.  Her sister begins yelling at her that she needs to find somewhere else to live.  In the meantime, she knows she has to feed her child, give him a bath, and get him to sleep in order to do this all over again tomorrow. This mother loves her child and wants the best for him like all mothers.  If she can keep this up for another four weeks, hopefully the child care assistance will be approved which will provide safe and reliable childcare for her son.  We work hard every day to help people during their crisis and to provide a path out of their crisis. Hope is a powerful motivator to keep going in a time of crisis. Luckily, mothers have the support of Crisis Nursery.  They have someone to talk to and help them move their family to a better place.  Everyone needs someone who truly cares. 

You don’t know the difference your donation makes for a family but we see it every day. Thank you for supporting children and families. We experience each day the gratitude for your care in the life of a family.  We take it one day, one hour at a time and work to make a difference in the community and fulfill our mission of protecting and nurturing children and families.  

Some days, we know that by giving a parent a little time to themselves we may have prevented them from shaking a baby, it may have prevented them from hurting a toddler, or it may have given them some hope.  Next time you think “What a Day!” think of the blessings you have that others may not.  One of mine is the blessing to be involved with such an outstanding organization that is making our community a better place…one family at a time.    
Donna Ashley
Program Services Director

Sunday, January 22, 2017

"Just one more, please!"

It is such a pleasure to hear the children in our Child Development Center (CDC) daycare and preschool requesting "just one more, please!" referring to their new books.  This past Friday the children were busy reading and listening to their brand new Usborne books! Abbey Cook, a board member,  hosted a fundraiser that provided Crittenton Centers with over $1,000 worth of books for the children.  These books are exciting, engaging, educational, and purposefully chosen for the children.  The stories and illustrations keep all of our children, ages 6 weeks to 6 years,  passionate about reading.  The CDC promotes a love of books and reading from an early age that will hopefully last for many years. 

Crittenton Centers' vision of educating and strengthening children and families to build safe, vibrant communities where children thrive and families succeed is in full swing in our CDC. Each week, thanks to donations and the Success by Six program offered through the United Way, we are able to provide each child a brand new book to take home. So many of our families are grateful for the opportunity to build their own home library.  Your donations truly put a smile on their faces and a love a reading in their hearts!

Sandy Garza
Development and Marketing Director