Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Asking for diapers instead of dolls

Asking for diapers instead of dolls 

This year for her tenth birthday, Kenzie Hart asked for baby bottles, diapers, wipes and a variety of baby accessories for others in need.
Not many second graders would forgo their birthday gifts with such joy, but Kenzie did not think twice about it.
“It makes me feel good when I do this,” she said, with a smile last week as she dropped off the items to the Crisis Nursery. “I just really want to.”
Kenzie, a student at Oak Grove West in Bartonville, hopes to continue her birthday donation for a few more years until she can volunteer at the Crittenton Centers.
“A few of my friends have even started this too,” she said.
Kenzie did not want to brag about her donation and just answered questions with a smile and a quick glance at her mom, Janel Hart, who was more than proud to boast about her daughter.

How does it make you feel as a mother to see your child think of others in need on her birthday?
Of course it makes me proud to know that Kenzie is so generous, and even more proud that she came up with this idea all on her own. And I like to think that as a family we have fostered her giving spirit and that we have led by example. However, Kenzie has always had a giving spirit, all of her life and all year round. … She just has a heart of gold.

What went through your mind as you saw her drop off the donations?

It makes me happy that we can help others and that she has started a tradition that we hope to continue for years as a family. And when I see how happy it makes her to help others at such a young age, it makes me wonder about all the good things she will do in the future. I can see her devoting her life to helping others in some form when she is an adult.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Crisis Nursery assisting ‘large push of new moms’

Crisis Nursery assisting ‘large push of new moms’

Last week, Kelsey Gareau, Crisis Nursery Coordinator, made an impromptu trip to Walmart to help stock the shelves with infant formula.
“We were turning so many people down,” she said. “I bought 14 cans of infant formula, and we have four cans left.”
It is without a doubt that many supplies are needed each day at the Crisis Nursery (open 24-hours a day, 7-days a week). However, as kids filter back into school and leafs begin to change, the need is even greater.
This can be seen firsthand as anyone steps into the room where Kelsey and staff struggle each day to keep up with formula, diapers and wipes, among other supplies. (These are the three most needed items and the reason for this blog today.)
“My job is hard, but I’m so happy to help these families,” she says with a smile. “Every day we get to change these people’s lives.”
Kelsey further explains the need for each of these items.

It seems like formula would be the first thing the public donates. Why is the need so great?
“Today, we have made over 12 bottles here in the nursery. We are seeing a large push of brand new moms. … Also, OSF Saint Francis Medical Center just became a baby friendly hospital, meaning they no longer give out packets of formula for new moms. Now, many moms are going home with nothing to feed their baby. … While breastfeeding is wonderful, sometimes the mothers we assist are so transient and stressed they don’t know where they are staying each night. So, they call us within a day or two asking for infant formula because breastfeeding isn’t working for them.”
What size diapers is the Crisis Nursery in need of the most?
“Well, we have changed 120 diapers this afternoon. We use the diapers in the nursery and give them out to the public. We are in the greatest need of size 4, 5, 6 and pull-ups because we are seeing many older kids still in diapers. … That’s why staff here is pushing more educational classes to help families with potty training.”
Wipes seem like an obvious need for new moms, but parents still struggle with this supply?
“Many parents’ government subsidies do not last the whole month, so we are seeing an increased need, especially at the beginning and end of every month. Every single family we serve asks for wipes because they just blow through them. We just haven’t had enough to hand out.”

Those wanting to help by personally delivering or sending items, please call 674-0105 to drop off. We have a monthly updated registry at Walmart and Amazon

Thursday, October 1, 2015

5 Reasons Mr. Justin prefers Dragonflies over high schoolers

“I love coming to work.” – That’s a sentence you don’t hear everyday, but for Justin Cordes they are five words becoming more and more prevalent during his first month at Crittenton Centers.

Corders, 37, is the only male teacher teaching preschoolers (the Dragonflies) at Crittenton Centers. He visited here one month ago to observe for a college class, and “I wanted to be part of it,” he said.

And a part of it he is, as he gathers his group of Dragonflies on the rug for Sign & Sing class with Abbey Cook from Communication Junction. “How about you come back here and sit crisscross applesauce. … All right, give me five!” he energetically yelled out as directions are followed.

As the children learn the signs for more, friend, together and happy, among others, I decided to ask “Mr. Justin” just what brought him here.  

1. What first caught your attention about Early Childhood Education?
As a stay at home dad, I had the privilege of spending a great deal of time with my daughter, and I took a very active role in her education. I met her teachers and volunteered in her classrooms and saw the passion and dedication that Early Childhood Educators put into their job.

2. Why didn’t you pursue high school history like you intended?
I had spent time in high school classrooms as a student observer and really felt like it wasn't a good fit for me. To be completely frank, it was depressing. A lot of the kids simply didn't care and the teachers that I worked with didn’t seem to care either. I felt, and still do, that I could have the most positive impact working with young children.  

3. What drew you to Crittenton Centers and not another preschool?
I came to do some observation for a college class and never wanted to leave. I feel really, really great when I go home at the end of the day. We teach everything; social skills, reading, math and more.

4. Why do you think there are more women than men preschool teachers?
Well, for me, my choice came from something more personal. My dad wasn’t around when I was a kid. I was raised by my grandfather, and he was amazing. I have a lot of kids at risk, and I feel if I can just help one kid over the next year it will be all worth it. I want to be a positive male impact for kids that maybe don’t have one at home.

5. How would you describe your teaching style?

I don’t want to be overly forceful. I’m a catch more flies with honey kind of a teacher. I’ve learned these five tips: Quiet voices, quiet bodies, sit crisscross applesauce, ears listen and eyes open and on teacher. But I’m looking forward to what this year has to offer and everything I will learn.