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My words and photographs are copyrighted, and may not be used without permission, even on Pinterest.

~ Kathy M.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

MountainStar Family Relief Nursery's 10th Anniversary in Bend, Oregon

Last night, the MountainStar Family Relief Nursery celebrated it's 10th Year Anniversary serving the Deschutes County area.

Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy ~ Kathy Matthews

One of the main goals of MountainStar is to help babies and toddlers attach to their parents, and to teach emotional regulation prior to the age of three, if possible.  When families are extremely stressed, sometimes the emotional and physical needs of the young children are not addressed as well as they could be.  The therapeutic preschool, support groups and other support services offered at the center help to keep children safe and families together. It is known, at least inside it's own walls, as "sacred work".

These two very nice people invited me to attend the event:

Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy ~ Kathy Matthews
Executive Director Tim Rusk and 
Paula Muellner, Resource Development Coordinator

Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy ~ Kathy Matthews

The free event celebration was fun and informative.  I had not met anybody before I got there, except for Tim.  I'm sorry that I am missing names under photos, and that some of my pictures didn't turn out as well as I wanted them to.  I was winging it, but I had a wonderful time, and thoroughly enjoyed myself.  I was so proud of the growth of the nursery, and I felt as if I belonged there.  That aside, lets get back to the story:

Highlights included a bounce house ....

 Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy ~ Kathy Matthews

Balloons ...

 Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy ~ Kathy Matthews

Face-painting ...

 Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy ~ Kathy Matthews

Tons, and tons of great food and desserts ....

 Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy ~ Kathy Matthews

Some speeches and a raffle drawing ...

 Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy ~ Kathy Matthews

Tim has been the Executive Director of the nursery since 2002.  I truly believe that one reason why things have flourished at the Relief Nursery is because of him.  I know that so many people have worked extremely hard over the years to make MountainStar the success that it is, but Tim's leadership skills shine through.

 Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy ~ Kathy Matthews

Crystal Lancaster was one of the first parents to be helped by the program when it first began; when there were a total of 8 families participating.  With a two-year-old, and pregnant with twins, MountainStar was a huge support to her.  Later on, they encouraged Crystal to go to back school.  She did, and took classes in Early Childhood Education.  Crystal currently volunteers at the nursery, happy to be giving back.

 Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy ~ Kathy Matthews

Scott Johnson has lived in Central Oregon since the mid-1990's, and is the former director of the Commission on Children and Families in Central Oregon.  Scott has done so much for families in Central Oregon and continues to do so in his current position as Deschutes County Mental Health Director.  When he moved here, there was hardly anything available in Central Oregon as far as supportive family services were concerned.  Along with others, Scott wanted to focus on starting early when the kids are young, instead of having to try to fix the broken when they were older.  He is one of the reasons why MountainStar is here today.

 Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy ~ Kathy Matthews

Visiting dignitaries ...

 Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy ~ Kathy Matthews
Jen Hagleston, who has helped the nursery obtain larger and larger buildings over the years, stands next to former Oregon State Representive and former CASA Director, Judy Stigler.  Judy is standing next to her husband, former Deshutes County D.A. Mike Dugan.

And folks who have worked hard over the years to make this place what it is today ....

 Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy ~ Kathy Matthews

 Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy ~ Kathy Matthews

 Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy ~ Kathy Matthews

While there, I also toured the building, and here are just a few photos of the classrooms:

Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy ~ Kathy Matthews

 Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy ~ Kathy Matthews

 Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy ~ Kathy Matthews

 Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy ~ Kathy Matthews

Here is some more information about MountainStar Family Relief Nursery, some history and links:

Source: Champions of Hope

Have you ever wondered about those blue ribbons that some people wear during the month of April?  They are worn to get people thinking; to help them become aware of, and to be vigilant against child abuse.  In fact, the whole month of April is now the official Child Abuse Awareness Month.

Back in 1989, a Virginian grandmother named Bonnie Finney tied a blue ribbon around the radio antenna of her car so that people would ask her why.  Bonnie would then proceed to tell them that her grandchildren were severely abused, and to please help make sure that no other kids had to ever go through the same thing that they did.

Before that, though, in 1976, a group of people in Eugene, Oregon, were busy setting up something very remarkable to help with the rising child abuse cases in Lane County.  They set up a preschools in churches around town, and called them Relief Nurseries.  Struggling throughout the years, and almost having to stop, they became a worldwide model for helping abused and neglected children and their families.  Currently Texas has 2, Romania has 10, and Oregon now has 15.  A mentor friend of mine, Mollie M., worked at one of the early Eugene nurseries, and I would occasionally stop by to visit her center.  I always loved the concept, and the important work that these people were doing.  Maybe you can help to begin one in your own community.

One of the Oregon centers is called MountainStar Family Relief Nursery and is located in Bend near St. Charles Hospital.  Around 9 years ago, I did some practicum work there while attending OSU-Cascades, and helped out at MountainStar once a week for three months.  It is very interesting and valuable work that they do in their therapeutic preschool settings.  I later ran into some of the kids that I met there, while I was working at Head Start.  One thing that Oregon does well is to support their low-income and high-risk families whenever possible.  In the 1980's folks from Eugene, Oregon also developed another worldwide model named Birth to Three.

When Cary and I were in Redmond at a Town Hall meeting with our state reps and Senator Chris Telfer last month,  we ran in to Tim Rusk, the Executive Director of MountainStar.  He invited me to come to their 10 Year Celebration and Open House, which was yesterday afternoon.  Paula Mueller followed up by email, so I figured that they really did want me to show up. So, I went, took some pictures, and that is how the photos and stories above came about.

Way to go, everybody! And thanks, Paula, for getting me there.

At Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy, if you miss a day, you miss a lot!  All material on this post is copyrighted and not for use without my permission ...Please click here to go to my home page and see what is happening in Mayberry today.
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Arkansas Patti said...

What a wonderful program. Abuse will continue to cycle if not interrupted. Hopefully that program will do just that.
What a smart lady who started the blue ribbon. Human curosity would just make someone ask.

Gloria (The Little Red House with the White Porch) said...

Sounds like a wonderful institution for families and how nice of you to profile them. You should volunteer there -- you are such a nice person, that you'd be perfect for that!
Have a lovely Easter, Kathy!

Shelly said...

Kathy you may remember that the first time I was in the hospital Eric was a year old. That was 1988. I was referred to the Relief Nursery here in Eugene. Adam got in first and a few months later Eric. So for a few hours two days a week I had that break from all three boys. Sometimes I had a counseling session during that time, others I just had enough time to drive home and take a nap and get back to pick them up.
As it's name suggest it was truly a "Relief". The staff was exceptional. The boys loved them. I did too. They had a nutritious lunch. They were very supportive of me. While I was never in danger of actually 'abusing' them our household was under a great deal of stress. Just as the boys finished up their time, aged out they were just breaking ground for their building they now have on Chambers. They have branched out in many other satellite sites all over Lane County since. What a great program! Thank you for bringing this to peoples attention......

BECKY said...

What a fabulous place! Thanks, Kathy!

Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy said...

Thank you, Patti, Gloria, Shelly and Becky. I sure do appreciate your comments. Sometimes it seems that the posts that I work the hardest on get the least comments.

Shelly, I do remember now that you reminded me. Thank you for sharing your story with us on here. You must have been worn out, with those three babies so close together. You were the best Mom ... then and now!

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