Lifestyle

Whidbey cares about Whidbey families

From my viewpoint, I can see the tireless work of many who care for Whidbey families through one-on-one connections; programs through schools, churches, and childcare centers; and behind the scenes writing grants, forming partnerships and exploring new ways to help. I am excited about a couple of these ways we can see how this community cares about families.

More hotdogs, please

The last weekend of September is becoming a wonderful tradition for families – Children’s Day. This year, Kiwanis kindly donated and graciously served 800 lunches not knowing that they would so quickly be eaten. Over 1,000 children and parents were entertained by clowns, stilts performers, and musicians; jumped, ran, and slid on inflatables; rode ponies; played games like ball toss, stick pony races, and cardboard box mazes; were treated like kings and queens with family massage, face painting, and free gifts; and were informed about fire, police, and DARE protection services. In total, 30 services, agencies, and business gave up their Saturday to wrap children and their parents in a blanket of fun and information that left many smiling. With a collaboration among United Way, South Whidbey Parks and Recreation, Kiwanis, Soroptimists, Washington Council for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect, Health Department, and the Family Support Alliance, we created a day that was truly a day all for kids and all for free. Thanks, community.

Alone in the village?

We’ve all heard the phrase, “It takes a village to raise a child” but many feel that they are home alone in the village. For new parents this often feels true. Offering support to new parents in Island County is a priority. Again through collaboration, Readiness to Learn, Pregnancy Aid, Toddler Learning Center and Family Support Alliance with a new grant from our Educational School District 189 (which includes 5 counties), we are able to offer more of this crucial support. Over 10 years ago, Shellie Moore began a group called Mother’s Circle for new parents. We are fortunate to be able to continue this group as well as start new groups in Oak Harbor and on Camano Island. Mother’s Circle is a supportive and nurturing place to meet with other new parents, share concerns and experiences, learn about new resources, make new friends, and have fun! We offer great topics and speakers for parents of infants and toddlers. We’ve also added a new resource to these groups called “Family Bags” which are separate totes filled with books and resources on different parenting topics such as guidance, toilet learning, crying, and sleep for new parents to take home, get some new strategies, and return for the next parent. Again through the collabortion of our community, these lending resources were created with the support of Kiwanis, United Way, and Health and Safety Networks for Standwood, Camano, and Whidbey. If you’re a new parent we invite you to come join the fun, take in the learning, and share the support in Langley (House of Hope) on Tuesday from 10 a.m. to noon and in Oak Harbor (Toddler Learning Center) on Wednesday from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. The village wants you to know that you are not alone.

Common link on the Web

Coming to you live from www.familysupportalliance.com. For several years, many have talked about a central location of information about support for parents. The Family Support Alliance is pleased to announce a new Web site just for Island County families. This site includes information about classes and available services, parenting information and affirmations, relevant links to local and national resources, contact information, and a calendar of parenting events. It is our priority that all parents feel respected for their work and have a way to connect with services and supports that they need and want.

There are many reasons why we all join in this village. One of those reasons for me is the clear intention of many to honor the work of parenting and hold our community’s children.

Bess Windecker-Nelson is the co-chair with Karin Watson of the Family Support Alliance whose mission is to weave together families with support. Please call 360-320-0595 with questions or e-mail besswn@whidbey.com.

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