S. Santa Cruz Avenue
A Family Resource Center...Connecting Families in Stanislaus County
From The Heart…
This story was written by Tom Portwood for the United Way “2007 Changing Lives Award” given to the Center’s “Parenting Basics” Program.
As soon as you sit down with Angel and hear him talk for a few minutes, you start rooting for him. Angel, a student enrolled in the Parenting Basics program at the Parent Resource Center, has courageously faced down his longtime drinking problems over the last several months and is making enormous strides in learning how to be a better, more loving parent.
“The first week I was here I knew that this was the place for me to be,” Angel remembers now. “This program has opened up my eyes to all kinds of things – how to treat your children with respect, so that they can respect you, how to enjoy them more.”
The Parenting Basics Plus program is a United Way-funded, 16-week parenting course aimed at addressing the needs of high-risk families by providing parenting education and support services. The curriculum focuses on nurturing parent/child relationships, bonding, positive parenting techniques and other key topics. Many of the students in the program have very young children who are currently in foster care. Lisa Root, the classroom instructor for the course understands the emotionally charged issues that her students face as they begin class: “A lot of the people in this class haven’t had a good example and they only know how to parent the way they have been parented themselves.”
As the students slowly work their way through the curriculum, Lisa sees “huge changes in their lives. A lot of the men especially are apprehensive when they first come here. And they come very angry, often very upset, often under court order to attend the class. Last week was the last class for one of the men, and he actually asked if he could continue the class, which was just amazing to me, because he had been so negative in his first week. So I definitely see a difference. And some of the most drastic differences are in the men.”
Now that Angel is working hard so he can take care of his growing children as a single father, he has forged ahead in other areas of his life. “Since I started coming here, I’ve gone back to school so I can get my GED.” With his daughter in child care at the PRC, Angel remarks that “I can put all of my effort and attention to the classroom. I can relax while I’m here.”
Lisa finds immense rewards in teaching the class and getting to know students like Angel. “I’m able to work with the clients on a really close level. I go into their homes, and work with them, so you do develop a relationship. A lot of these clients have great success stories.”
Angel smiles, and says simply, “This place is doing a fabulous job. I know it saved my life.”
Lack of education is a barrier to many families who receive services at the Parent Resource Center. In an effort to reduce this barrier, the Center offers GED Preparation classes, provided by Stanislaus Literacy Center. This story indicates the importance and power of education and the strong relationships that are created through the Center’s many programs.
A young mom approached her parenting class case manager asking how she could enroll in the GED program as it had been a lifelong dream to complete her high school education. The case manager enrolled her in the GED Preparation class and the mom worked diligently with the instructor for over four months to prepare for the test. When the instructor felt she was ready, he encouraged her to take the exam which consists of 5 tests. It is difficult to pass all 5 sections and this young mom passed all 5 tests on the first attempt! When she received the news, she excited called her case manager and asked if she could come back to the GED class to tell her success story. She proudly shared her success with the class and instructor. Tearfully she thanked her instructor and stated, “No one has ever told me I was smart enough or that I was good enough to do this. Thank you for helping me reach my dream.”
“To the Parent Resource
Center and Future Volunteers,
I had the honor of being a Labor and Delivery coach for a young woman.
She had no mother or support with her in this precious time. I made
her a promise that I would not leave her until the baby was here and
felt safe. I didn’t leave.
~Renee – Volunteer~