As my closest friends and family know, I’m not that “into” children. Don’t get me wrong. I love children and being around them.  But do I have that “mothering” instinct?  Honestly, I think it’s buried deep, deep, DEEP down inside of me.  

To everyone’s amazement, I’ve worked at Crisis Nursery for over 3 1/2 years.  My boyfriend early on in our relationship asked me, why do you work at a children’s organization when you don’t really like kids?  He said it somewhat joking because he knows I enjoy playing with kids and being around them, but  it did make me think. 

 What I love about Crisis Nursery is that in addition to working directly with children, they also work directly with their parents.  Providing parents with referrals to community resources, encouragement to be an active part of their children’s lives and most importantly support. When their family and friends have turned their back on them or even at times it feels like the community has turned their back on them, Crisis Nursery is there to help them.  Yes, these parents made mistakes, some really bad mistakes.   But at one point people realize they have to change.    They are facing their hard realities and owning up to their mistakes.  What takes real courage is turning to someone for help to make amends and to move forward not only for their sake but the sake of their children.

The people who seek help from Crisis Nursery feel they have no where else to turn to.  Maybe for some reason or another they burnt bridges with their friends and family due to substance abuse or untreated mental illness.  Some find themselves isolated because of domestic violence.  Or some people moved here away from family to seek a better life, but when they arrived here, they were laid off and struggle to put food on the table or a roof over their heads.  The reasons can go on and on, but what remains the same is that Crisis Nursery is there to help.

Many people think if a parent abuses or neglects their child, lock them up in prison and throw away the key.  Yes, I believe there should be consequences for their actions, but it doesn’t mean the memory of the abuse or neglect goes away.  You may see it as breaking news in the media, but when the hoopla dies down these children and their parents keep living.   Their children live with the knowledge of the abuse and the live with this knowledge as they grow up and become adults.  Parents have to live with their actions and live with it until they die.  In a magical world, it would be nice if the effects of child abuse and neglect would disappear once the verdict is made, but that’s not reality. 

Most parents do not intentionally want to abuse or neglect their child.  Abuse happens when stress levels are high.  Given our economy and the difficult times we are all facing, these are the times we are going to see abuse and neglect rates start to climb.  We as a community can prevent another child from being abused or neglected.  Support programs that helps and supports vulnerable families.  Donate and volunteer to organizations like Crisis Nursery.  Or the new organizations I’m working for…Central Arizona Shelter Services (CASS).  We work with men, women and children to empower them to end homelessness.   Advocate for programs that help children and families.  With the state trying to balance its budget, cuts have already been made to essential education and human services.  The State is looking to make more cuts to potentially reduce or dismantle these essential services.  Speak up and have your voices heard vulnerable children and families need your help.