Current and former board and staff of Family Resource Center St. Croix Valley gathered recently to mark a milestone: the organization's anniversary of forming as a nonprofit serving families in St. Croix County in 1998. Board President Chad Fett, of Hudson, welcomed nearly 40 attendees to the "reunion" luncheon and thanked past board presidents and executive directors for their leadership and dedication.
Sharon Reyzer of Roberts, a long-time public health nurse and founding board member, shared stories about the early days - of mismatched furniture hauled in a borrowed horse trailer, no staff and a $25,000 grant. Reyzer facilitated the first young parent group as a volunteer.
Fast forward 20 years to a staff of 12 and a recent office expansion, the Family Resource Center provides group classes and home visits throughout Pierce, Polk and St. Croix counties, and is involved in statewide quality improvement initiatives for home visiting. The organization has received national recognition by Parents as Teachers for its innovative model of service delivery that includes strategic partnerships with health care organizations, social services, colleges and universities, and United Way St. Croix Valley.
All three executive directors were present for the event - Tami McManus, of Baldwin, who was hired as the first Family Resource Center director; Patty Draxler, of Amery, who led the staff from 2003-2017, and Agnes Ring, of Houlton, who has served as director since May 2017. Ring praised the wisdom of the organization's founders in implementing an evidence-based program from year one, which continues to impact families early in their child's lives.
"The kids who were first here are now in their 20s," Ring said. "Teen parents are now in their 30s."
Founding board member Mary Sue Ash of Hudson first joined the board while still employed in Pupil Services at Baldwin-Woodville School District. After her retirement, she became actively involved in building the Success By 6 initiatives in partnership with United Way St. Croix Valley.
"The early years are the most important years of our life, and what we experience then often stays with us," Ash said. "Parent interaction builds a child's brain connections. Parents are a child's first teacher and have the most influence over kids."
Ash thanked those in attendance for helping to create an organization that is valued, visible and vibrant.
"Each of you, in your own way, has made that possible," Ash said.
Family Resource Center St. Croix Valley is funded by grants, contracts and charitable donations. Programs and services are available to families with children from prenatal to school entry, and there is no cost for families to participate in parent-child groups or home visits. For more information visit frcscv.org or call 715-684-4440.