For some young families, the holiday season brings financial and emotional stress instead of good tidings. But the Turlock Family Network, a resource for young parents, many whom have come from difficult backgrounds, provides an outlet for family members to enjoy one another’s company by providing support and education.
“This class has really helped me out,” said Tracy Raymond, making string necklaces with her granddaughter, Bella, in a "Hands-On" class. “It has been a big stress reliever for me, and for Bella. She’s learning so much, and I am learning too.”
Tracy Raymond, a participant in the Hands On classes, brought most of her family members, including her daughter, Dovie, Bella’s mom, and her second daughter, Chyenne. This course was designed to teach parents new skills, build relationships with other mothers, and aid in understand a young child’s development through craft projects. The program also includes free childcare and refreshments.
Another mother, Patricia Sponaugle, said the Turlock Family Network has helped her daughter, Kayla, grow from a shy child to a polite young lady.
“I’ve been coming here for about a month now. It’s been a big help for me because she wasn’t talking. The first day, Beth helped me get her to say please and thank you. Now that is all she says. I would totally recommend this class. It’s a big stress reliever,” she said.
The Turlock Family Network had to close down last year due to lack of funding. But Director Beverly Spielman said that since their reopening in July, there have been additional changes that made the program necessary for the Turlock region.
“There is a total need for this. There is one other place in town that offers parenting classes, but ours is very unique because we do a lot of hands on work with the families. Every family that comes through the door, whether they are in a parenting class, or we are working with them at home, by the time they leave our program, they feel a part of our family. You can see a big difference in their parenting, and their life,” said Spielman.
The programs offered are not age restricted, parents of any age are encouraged to take part in the nurturing programs. The programs are also open to any sort of family relations or situations. There are classes on “What to Expect,” for prenatal parents/providers, and a “Family Hands” course to promote, and teach positive communicative skills. There are classes designed for Spanish speakers, and home mentoring programs.
With the new programs came a new staff and volunteers from case workers to moms employed through the Alliance Worknet. Turlock Family Network has also welcomed students from Stockton’s Kaplan College who have provided lectures to parents and caregivers as they eat.
“The families just have a ton of questions. They take away a lot of the knowledge that the students give them. It’s wonderful,” said Spielman, watching a meeting take place in a designated classroom.
Despite overcoming many obstacles, the Turlock Family Network is still in need of more funding for the future, especially right before Christmas. TFN is celebrating the holiday season by helping low-income, or troubled families afford a party for their Christmas celebration, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Dec. 13. The event will be held at the Salvation Army, and will include all families that have been involved in the program for the last year.
There will be Christmas trees, and Santa coming to give gifts for the kids.
“We are going to have five activity stations. We are hoping that the donations will come through and provide a bag of food for the families to take home for the holidays. We provide them a Christmas dinner, and are trying to get donations to fill the side plates. Anything would help. We won't turn anything away.” Spielman said.
To find out how to donate, or to become part of any upcoming programs, call Beverly Spielman at 668-3363, or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.