COTTAGE GROVE, Ore. — When high school graduates walk this year there will be some that have overcome tremendous challenges to get where they are, it will also be their second graduation.
The graduates are also part of the Family Relief Nursery in Cottage Grove. It’s one of six nonprofits helping prevent child abuse and neglect that is receiving funds from this year’s Great Rotary duck Race.
Parenting is challenging, rewarding and at times overwhelming.
“We had a mom call once. She had just lost her husband, her daughter was grieving, she was pregnant, she was grieving herself and she had called six places that day and she said ‘lady, I don’t need a home visit, I need a break from my kid, I feel like I’m going to punch her,’” said Heather Murphy, Relief Nursery Executive Director.
When it happens, families in south Lane County can turn to the Family Relief Nursery. Its mission is to prevent child abuse and neglect in families operating under stress.
“Everyone has their stories and everyone has their struggles, it’s one of those things where respite did come to me at a dire need,” Murphy said.
Tamika Piercey was not the woman on the phone that day, but she was struggling with tremendous stress, financially stretched and a mother of two at the time, including one with special needs. She’s also a cancer survivor, struggling to make appointments for critical checkups and struggling to be the mother she wanted to be.
“Emotionally distracted and physically distracted, tired,” Piercey said.
At a school supply handout in Creswell, she ran into a woman who worked at the nursery.
“As soon as she told me it was free, I just about cried,” Piercey said.
Respite Care stepped in giving her a break from parenting, to be a patient or run errands. Her son, Maximus, was on a waiting list for the Therapeutic Early Childhood Program, while mom and dad receive visits and parent education.
“We make sure in the process that there is something very stable and developmentally appropriate for their children and they come here and they’re safe and they’re warm, and it’s fun and they have their goals, and the family is working on those stressors and bringing them down,” Murphy said.
Maximus was finally accepted in October.
“It’s exciting to see your kid ecstatic about something,” Piercey said.
Maximus certainly is not the first, he’s just the latest; there have been hundreds of others and their photos line the nursery walls.
Now, 18 years after the Family Relief Nursery in Cottage Grove was born, it’s first wave of Wobblers are graduating high school.
“I see those kids and there’s nothing better than to watch them up on a choir concert and know where they started here as babies and the struggles their families have gone through and see a mom up there videotaping her kindergartner at a Christmas concert,” Murphy said.
“They always say, it takes a village to raise a child. That village is long gone, you gotta go find it, to come here and find it is amazing,” Piercey said.
With so many stories they’re pushing for a Family Relief Nursery satellite office in Creswell and others in rural areas. Buying a Rotary Duck Race ticket will help that happen.
Ducks are on sale at all Bi-Mart and Dari-Mart stores through October 4. The race is on October 12.