It takes a village: Parent Center offers support

There have been plenty of times over my years as a parent when I’ve longed for the support of a village, a collection of wise grandmothers and helpful friends who, when I’m in danger of losing my mind, would sit me down with a cup of tea and talk me through the challenges of childhood, all the while reminding me that this too shall pass.
This is just the sort of environment Miriam Rushfinn envisions for the Parent Center. Celebrating its one-year anniversary this month, this new liaison organization will one day live as a friendly, inviting living room in which families can gather, meet with resource people from the community, or attend a parenting class.
For now, though, The Parent Center offers its services on an outreach basis from an office over the Downtown Family Health Center in the old Cavalier Beverage building in Garret Square.
Helping local parents navigate available community services, and creating connections between families, schools, businesses, organizations, and other available resources for kids is what this non-profit is all about.
“There are all kinds of tools and resources out there,” says Rushfinn, the center’s director. “We know what’s out there in the current research and how to apply it, and we’re here to promote local successful efforts, to let others know about it.”
 Rushfinn and an army of volunteers help connect families with information and community resources such as where they can find parenting classes or help with the difficult transition from elementary to middle school. The center is also involved in the Motheread/Fatheread family literacy program and will sponsor an event at the Virginia Festival of the Book. Workshops, classes, and consulting/facilitation services are also offered in Albemarle, Charlottesville, and Fluvanna.
“One of our most successful programs is our Family and School Connections initiative,” Rushfinn says. Individuals from the center are currently working with parents and school officials at Burnley-Moran and Woodbrook elementary schools in a year-long effort to develop a plan for working with identified problem areas.
Stone-Robinson PTO has also announced its partnership with the center inviting members of the community to a Parent/Teacher/Student Workshop Night. Sessions include such topics as children’s legal rights, safe surfing on the Internet, and managing your child’s behavior. Even the Sheriff’s office is involved with workshops for kids on gun safety and what to do if they get lost.
So maybe there really is a village out there. Maybe all we need to do is find it.

The Parent Center, Inc. is at 313 Second St. SE, suite 209. 817-1234. Stone-Robinson’s Workshop Night is February 18 from 6:45-8:30pm. Call PTO president Susan Turner for more information: 971-8122.

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