Submitted by Kristin Thompson
On Friday, April 12, over 200 supporters of Family Resource Center St. Croix Valley gathered at Camp St. Croix for the 14th annual Reach for the Stars gala. The event had a more casual tone than in past years, as guests were encouraged to dress in flannel attire, and enjoyed music from Baldwin-area band Crabgrass, auctions, raffles and a barbeque meal.
"The Reach for Stars gala is held in April every year to mark Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Month," said Family Resource Center Executive Director Agnes Ring. "The generous financial support provided by local businesses, individual donors and community leaders at this event - and throughout the year-reflects a caring community. The event shines a light on the challenges of families raising young children and the life-changing work of our parent educators."
The event raised $49,000 to support the Family Resource Center's parent-child groups, including Baby & Me and Play & Learn, and Home Visits with families across their service area of Pierce, Polk and St. Croix counties.
Each year, Family Resource Center acknowledges an individual at the event for their leadership, dedication and service through the annual John M. Coughlin Volunteer Award. The award honors the memory of Coughlin's extraordinary leadership, dedication and commitment to the well-being of children and families in the region, as well as his vision to create a comprehensive early childhood system through United Way St. Croix Valley and Success By 6 initiatives.
Board President Mary Sue Ash of Hudson presented the 2019 award to founding board member Sharon Reyzer, who provided "quiet, persistent leadership" in the early years of the organization - founded in 1998 - and has continued to be a champion for the Family Resource Center through her role as Public Health Supervisor/WIC Director at St. Croix County Public Health.
"Sharon was a strong, committed, capable, hard-working board member with a passion for improving and supporting the lives of others, especially parents of young children," she said.
Guests also heard from two parent participants as part of the event program. Tianna of New Richmond shared that she learned of Family Resource Center programs at the age of 15, when she was a high school student in Osceola. She participated in the Young Parent group and continues with twice monthly home visits with her daughter Ava, now age 3.
"My parent educator has never judged me or made me feel as if I was doing something wrong," said Tianna. "This program has given me confidence. They believed in me. The Young Parent program has made this journey easier, one visit at a time."
Madison of River Falls enrolled in home visits with the Family Resource Center initially as part of the "Parenting Forward" program sponsored by St. Croix County Drug Court. She spoke about receiving helpful information regarding child development as well as support achieving numerous goals.
"My family and I are forever grateful for the everlasting support and friendship that flows through this program," she said in closing. "To all of the people who make this possible, I thank you! You have made a difference in my life and for that I am grateful!"
The mission of Family Resource Center St. Croix Valley is to strengthen children, families, and communities by offering education, resources, and support. Programs and services are available to families with young children, prenatally to kindergarten entry, at no cost. For more information, visit www.frcscv.org