IN THE NEWS
Older students help kindergartners at Nava Elementary School with molding their clay projects during the 21st Century program. Pottery projects are part of the curriculum the Community Educators Network developed for 21st Century. photos Courtesy Mary Massey
By: Nancy Guthrie
Spring 2018 Edition
New collaborative connects parents to resources and each other
Many of us have been expectant or new parents with limited knowledge of childcare, affordable housing, health care and other information and resources necessary to raise healthy, happy children. That’s what Many Mothers, Las Cumbres Community Services, and Fathers New Mexico were considering when they proposed creating ¡Santa Fe Convive!, a new collaborative working group in the Santa Fe Birth to Career Initiative.
Individually, each of these organizations works to educate and connect parents to resources that will keep them and their children safe, healthy and thriving. By combining resources and offering meetings for parents and expectant parents, we support our client families and reach even more families. At the beginning of this year, Gerard’s House, which works in providing grief support for families, joined the group.
¡Santa Fe Convive! was envisioned as a means to bring resources and information about parenting to expectant parents and families in a way that is inviting and fun. We hold collaborative “teach and talk” meetings on topics especially relevant to disadvantaged youth, immigrant families and single mothers, typically twice a month. Additionally, peer support groups for pregnant and new mothers are being formed with regular discussions on issues that matter most to them while promoting empowerment and leadership within the communities.
Each of these four organizations supports families with children at various developmental stages who may be facing a variety of challenges. As a collaborative group, ¡Convive! is a natural extension of the referrals and work already taking place among the organizations.
Many Mothers (www.manymothers.org) matches trained volunteers with families having a baby younger than six months of age to provide in-home support. This support helps to reduce parental stress and thereby reduces adverse childhood experiences, and also helps parents feel more connected to their community.
The Las Cumbres Community Services ¡Que Cute! Healthy Baby Program (www.lascumbres-nm.org/child-family-services/que-cute-healthy-baby-program) seeks to reduce the number of low birth-weight babies born in Santa Fe County by supporting women throughout their pregnancies, so that they have healthy pregnancies, healthy births and healthy babies.
Fathers New Mexico (www.fathersnewmexico.org/) helps young men become great fathers by employing mentoring, teaching and group activities to establish trust and support with the fathers. Fathers New Mexico helps empower dads to be responsible, healthy fathers, partners and community members.
Gerard’s House (www.gerardshouse.org) is a safe place for grieving children, teens and families, where healing happens through acceptance and peer support. Their Nuestra Jornada Group for Teen Moms is a grief support group especially for young mothers and expectant young women.
¡Santa Fe Convive! welcomes all parents and expectant parents to attend the twice-monthly “teach and talk” gatherings, typically 6:30 p.m. the first and third Wednesdays, at Gerard’s House, 3204 Mercantile Court #C, in Santa Fe. Dinner, on-site childcare, door prizes and transportation assistance are provided at no charge. Past door prizes include a family pass to the Santa Fe Botanical Gardens, board games, craft supplies and diapers.
Past presenters have included Johnny Wilson, executive director of Fathers New Mexico, talking about the role and importance of fathers in a child’s life.
Veronica Reyes from beWellnm presented information about health insurance, health insurance exchanges, and then scheduled appointments for parents to enroll in the exchange before the fall enrollment period began.
Amparo Guerrero of Solace Crisis Treatment Center spoke in Spanish and English about preventing sexual abuse in children.
Rayos Burciaga of Somos Un Pueblo Unido offered information in Spanish on civil rights afforded to all residents of the United States based on the Bill of Rights.
Tammy Thomas, a health educator with the Department of Health’s Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program and New Mexico Tracking, spoke to the group about toy safety, focusing on the dangers of lead in inexpensive toys. Thomas also spoke about the value and importance of imaginative play for young children. The door prize that evening was a basket of craft materials for making toys.
These meetings often have an immediate and significant impact on participants. A young father who attended Johnny Wilson’s talk began attending support groups with other fathers. One young, single mother who recently moved to Santa Fe from out of state has enjoyed visiting with other parents and learning new parenting information at the meetings. After the presentation on toy safety where she learned that many of the inexpensive toys found at dollar stores contain unsafe levels of lead, she went home and cleaned out all of the “cheap” toys in her daughter’s toy box.
Future “teach and talk” presenters will include Laliv Zang talking about herbal teas to calm minor aches and illnesses in children. Allegra Love, with the Santa Fe Dreamers, will discuss the legal documents to prepare in case of deportation or death. Renee Zisman with the NMSU Cooperative Extension will present several lessons on Ideas for Cooking and Nutrition (ICAN).
Funding for the ¡Santa Fe Convive! working group is provided by the Santa Fe Birth to Career Collaboration, which is part of Opportunity Santa Fe: Birth to Career (www.opportunitysantafe.org), a joint effort between the Santa Fe Mayor’s Children, Youth and Families Community Cabinet; the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Board; and the Santa Fe Birth to Career Collaboration, working with many community partners. Opportunity Santa Fe also offers the services of two AmeriCorps Vista Volunteers, Sarah Cheney and Emily McRae, who help ensure that everything is ready for each “teach and talk” meeting.
To learn about upcoming presentations and register to attend, please visit our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/sfconvive, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (505) 988-9715 ext. 7900. The ¡Santa Fe Convive! calendar is publicly available and can be found by searching Google calendars for “santafeconvive.”
Nancy Guthrie is the executive director of Many Mothers.
Permission to reprint given by article author