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Please nurture our crisis nursery

By October 6, 2010

Special to The Enterprise

ÒChildrenÕs talent to endure stems from their ignorance of alternatives.Ó

Ñ Maya Angelou

Our back-to-school ceremony was different this year. I didnÕt go to the campus, and the I-love-you embrace was private and quick. I watched from behind the protective veil of my sunglasses as my seventh-grader rode his bike down the driveway, with little more fanfare than a quiet wave. When he was no longer in sight, my glasses came off and the tears flowed.

In that moment, so many experiences crossed my mind: a reluctant first day of preschool; a kindergarten memory, where I lingered too long, after the door closed. Field trips when he still wanted me to chaperone.

And, eventually, his growing independence.

Though painful, I was thankful for my tears because they were born of a deep and abiding love, a bond that didnÕt come easily, and a vital relationship that needed the support of others to compensate for our rough start. Post-partum depression and colic can be a toxic mix.

Just as a new baby comes into the world, another is off to pursue adulthood. It wonÕt be long now, as friends tell me; my son will chart his adult path before I can catch my breath. For now, I just want to hang on because each day and every milestone reminds me that life is in a hurry.

Our community is about to celebrate another significant milestone. For 10 years, we have parented the Yolo Crisis Nursery, which is dependent on private support. We can take great pride offering this essential resource, one of only five in the entire state.

Serving children ages 0-5, the most critical years of development, our nursery provides safe haven for little ones at risk of being abused or neglected. Families are supported through all forms of crisis like job loss, domestic violence, illness and post-partum depression. It is because of this assistance that families are strengthened and sustained, and we are allowed to imagine the ideal Ñ a world where every child grows up in a safe, loving home.

There is never a good time for crisis, and life doesnÕt allow us to prescribe what weÕll face or when. But the most difficult time is when we are caring for a young child, or worse, living as one.

It is often said, children are resilient. To a limited extent, I believe this is true. But we are falsely dependent on this ability, numbing ourselves to the reality that children around the world, and in our own community, are hurting. Children are sometimes resilient simply because they have no choice.

We must ask what happens to the resilient child in later years when they attend our schools as troubled students, or make choices as adults. It is not surprising that at least two-thirds of those who serve time in our prisons and jails were abused as children.

In 10 years, the nursery has served more than 2,700 children and their families after the kind of support many of us take for granted, failed. Relationships like I cherish with my son, and you share with your loved ones, have been protected because you care. Lives have been altered, and negative cycles have been stopped in an environment of safety, resources and love.

Junior high educators caution parents, it is even more critical to stay engaged during this transitional stage, even though our children may wish otherwise. As a nursery advocate, I say the same to you. Ten years of success will not guarantee our future; donating your time and money will.

Your job as a parent is not over. And according to wise grandparents like my own mother, it never will be. The children of our community belong to all of us. When we support our nursery, we nurture our future. And theirs.

Ñ Heidy Kellison is the founding president of Friends of the Yolo Crisis Nursery. Reach her at [email protected]

You can help

What: Capital City Caper mystery dinner theater show (black tie optional), plus live and silent auctions, to raise money for the Yolo Crisis Nursery, which cares for babies and children who are at high risk for abuse and neglect

When: 6 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 23

Where: Tsakopoulos Library Galleria, 818 I St., Sacramento

Tickets: Table sponsorships start at $1,250 and individual tickets are $125

Info: http://www.capcitycaper.org, (530) 747-3122 or [email protected]

Heidy Kellison

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