Parenting is no walk in the park. When families have to deal with drug or alcohol addictions, behavioral problems or teen pregnancy, parenting can be too much to handle alone. That is where the Turlock Family Network comes in.
The private non-profit offers parenting classes and in-home mentoring to local families, free of charge. Although providing a much-need service for the community — the organization served 135 families just from July 2012 to December 2012 —TFN has suffered funding problems over the past few years.
"We've been getting a lot of families coming in," said TFN Executive Director Beverly Spielman. "The problem has always been the funding."
In October 2011, the organization closed its doors after 13 years due to lack of funding. TFN was able to reopen in July 2012, after community members recognized the need for a parenting resource was still high and pulled together funds.
In February, the parenting resource once again found itself on the brink of closure due to lack of funding. After sending out an SOS call for funds, new private donors stepped in to save TFN. What the network really needed, however, was a grant or two to provide funding that could keep programs running — at least for a year at a time.
TFN's funding prayers have been answered. The parenting resource is the recipient of a $15,000 Sierra Health Foundation grant. The foundation is a private philanthropy that invests in programs that improve health and quality of life in Northern California. TFN was also awarded approximately $10,000 through a City of Turlock Community Development Block Grant.
"It's a really big boost for the agency," said Spielman. "It doesn't take care of all of the costs, but it will allow us to start a car seat program, which is a big need."
The grants will also help TFN hire another case manager and purchase program supplies for its four classes — What to Expect, Breastfeeding Support, Hands-on Parenting (for mothers or primary guardians) and Family Hands (for all family members).
Along with continued service to local families in need, the grants also help TFN further its partnerships with university students, employment assistance programs and community members looking to volunteer their time.
TFN has about 24 volunteers at any one time, said Spielman, the majority of which are university students. Some are looking to fulfill community service requirements, while others are studying child development or social services and need the valuable experience to further their education.
One group of college students held a baby shower for TFN families. The students planned the whole event and got prizes lined up for the party games.
"I've never seen so many college students get on the floor and play with toddlers or hold newborns. It was really wonderful," said Spielman.
Brittany Turpin started volunteering at TFN in the fall through a California State University, Stanislaus class. She now volunteers as just a community member.
"I thought it was a great hands-on experience. I'm able to take my knowledge from the university and bring it here," Turpin said.
The TFN is always looking for new volunteers — and accepting donations. For more information, call 668-3363 or visit www.TurlockFamilyNetwork.com.