Just a few short months ago Teresa Morton struggled to find a way to pay for her 6-year-old’s school supplies. But when she registered Samuel for first grade at Tennyson Knolls Elementary School her stress disappeared.
“During registration, …
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“During registration, people from Growing Home were there handing out backpacks filled with school supplies,” she said. “That was a huge block off my shoulders because at that time I didn’t know what I was going to do to get him everything he needed. Samuel was also able to pick out three books which made him that much more eager to start school. That was awesome.”
Growing Home is a Westminster nonprofit organization dedicated to helping struggling families succeed and meet their dreams. The organization works closely with families to transform parents and children’s lives in a positive way.
“Our goal is to help those families who are struggling month to month to make ends meet get on a path to long term success,” said Teva Sienicki, Growing Home president and CEO. “We know there are a lot more families out there struggling to get by because they just aren’t earning enough to pay all the bills.”
A primary goal of Growing Home is helping parents prepare their children for school. The organization uses an award-winning program called Parents as Teachers, which sends a representative from Growing Home to homes twice a month to discuss a child’s development.
Parents learn how to support their children and help them reach goals and potential through simple activities such as creating a game out of empty yogurt containers and coffee cans.
“We help parents find ways to come up with activities that can stimulate brain development in their children,” Sienicki said. “Sometimes it’s as easy as getting a cheap bag of rice and turning that into a fun activity. We also provide families with books.”
Growing Home also offers a 14-week program called the Incredible Years Parenting Series for parents of children ages three to eight. The program teaches valuable parenting strategies and offers free childcare and meals during each class.
Morton graduated from the Incredible Years Parenting Series on Dec. 18. The program has helped her immensely, she said. She’s learned the importance of a daily routine and how effective a simple time out can be for both her and Samuel.
“I’ve learned Samuel’s temperament and how it differs from mine and, ironically enough, you wouldn’t think that makes a difference in parenting, but it does,” she said. “I also didn’t realize how effective ignoring and using time outs were. I learned I can use time outs as chance for me to get my head back, and that has made all the difference some days.”
To help other families at Tennyson Knolls, Growing Home has started the Blocks of Hope program focused on saturating the school and the surrounding community with services. The goal is to ensure all children are ready to start school and continue to succeed.
By partnering with other organizations and entities, Sienicki said the program will offer programs such as after school tutoring and services like free immunization clinics. The Blocks of Hope program will also reach outside the school to neighbors to gain feedback on the community through surveys.
“Ultimately, over a couple of years our goal is to hit 60 percent of families and in this neighborhood so that it becomes the norm to have the help you need and to have the tools you need to succeed,” Sienicki said. “And along with that is the goal that everybody in the community starts talking and showing ownership in their community and how well their kids are doing.”
Tennyson Knolls principal Tom Elliott is a strong believer and supporter of the Blocks of Hope program.
“The information and resources that are provided to the families by Growing Home are invaluable,” he said. “They did not come in with `their program.’ They came in with ideas and wanted to adapt them to the needs of our school community, which increases the value of what they offer ten-fold.”
Morton has one more reason to love Growing Home.
With the organization’s support, she is applying for a scholarship to return to school to become a registered nurse- a dream since she was a child.
“The people at Growing Home are super supportive without having any judgment,” she said. “They are my second family. That’s the best way to put it.”
For more information on Growing Home, visit www.growinghome.org.
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