Congratulations, Hillsboro-Main Street Children’s Relief Nursery (CRN)! This is the CRN’s 5th anniversary, and they have done an amazing job over this time. In 2011, the site was an asset transferred from A Child’s Place, a daycare center, to LifeWorks NW. For a time, Main Street housed only Child & Family Services, Healthy Families and Promotoras. Then LifeWorks NW collaborated with Washington County and Oregon Association of Relief Nurseries (OARN) to create a local Relief Nursery.
The agency’s first Children’s Relief Nursery is in St. John’s, which houses the larger main Relief Nursery. Gladstone, another smaller site, came next followed 5 years ago by Main Street.
Denise, who is program director for both Main Street and Gladstone’s CRNs, has been part of the Main-Street program since it was approved by the county and OARN. “I still remember the initial conversation,” says Denise. “We started in January 2016 with many moving parts—planning meetings, city planners, multiple approvals and licenses, hiring, buying furniture, etc. We opened in fall 2016. The team today includes Rhonda, Early Childhood Education assistant; and two Early Childhood Education specialists, Hollie and Romy.
Hollie joined Main Street’s CRN from its beginning, starting in June 2016.
“Hollie was an Early Childhood Education intern at Gladstone from January-June 2016, so it was perfect timing for hiring her at Main Street…well really, we were the lucky ones!” says Denise.
“We provide a therapeutic classroom in the morning and home visits in the afternoon,” says Hollie. “My style is to leave it pretty open to whatever the family wants to discuss. I’m just really passionate about providing a positive environment for the kids.”
Rhonda joined a few months later as an Early Childhood Education assistant. She had spent most of her previous career at the Northwest Regional Education Service District, and loves working with kids.
While she was originally hired to manage food preparation, transportation, etc., according to Hollie, Rhonda often steps into a co-teacher role in the classroom. She also was enormously helpful to parents during COVID, creating activity bags with materials to use during virtual home visits, as well as providing food, diapers and other needed items.
Romy joined the team in November 2017, and her favorite part of the job is seeing the kids smile, and the goofy faces and jokes they make.
“Day by day, we never know what will come – it may be a challenging day or easy peasy,” says Romy. “Kids come up with so many funny things—jokes, showing workouts they learned from their parents. Some start out shy, then when they feel comfortable, it’s ‘Bye, Mom!’ and they are straight on to class. I love my job and the connection I have with the kids.”
As with all other LifeWorks NW teams, COVID was hard for this group and their clients because they had to move quickly—first to phone, then video home visits.
“In May 2020, we resumed in-person outdoor home visits, and began offering respite again in July,” says Denise. “In-person home visits stopped again in November 202, due to the statewide freeze. We resumed in-person home visits again in March 2021, and added one therapeutic preschool classroom at the end of this July. The second classroom is scheduled to start September 21.”
The team is excited to get back to normal, since a big part of this program is helping children build the emotional development skills needed to interact with others. And staff say the opportunity to be in-person really helped families fully re-engage in the program.
NOTE: You can see the site and staff in action during this year’s Portland’s Original Iron Chef, Nourish, Heal, Grow, September 23- 26. You can sign up to watch this short, 10-minute fundraiser on behalf of all three Children’s Relief Nursery, at Registration Page (ejoinme.org)
Please join us in congratulating this small, but mighty team on their anniversary.