Family Resource Centers celebrate a year of recovery at new location
The Owego Family Resource Center celebrated a year of being up and running again after the September 2011 flood. Their "new" location at 72 North Ave. in Owego, and how they found it, is a story that so many have lived through following the flood. The Family Resource Center (FRC) had been located at 228 Main St. for years, but that location was flooded and they lost nearly everything in the disaster.
"We lost all our equipment," Cornell Cooperative Extension Tioga County Team Leader Judy Wolf said. Equipment for an operation that caters to kids from a few months to five years old, as you can imagine, is toys and interactive learning materials. Except for some arts and craft supplies located on shelves above the water level, Wolf said the FRC lost everything. But you can't keep a good program down.
Two months after the flood, with the help of a parent who had brought her own children to play at the FRC, they moved into the 72 North Ave. location, according to Owego FRC Program Coordinator Donna Vergason-Gibson. With the location secured, the FRC team turned its attention to replacing the items that make the center a favorite with kids and parents - toys. Vergason-Gibson said they opened with little - a kitchen set, a few toys, and a couple empty shelves.
With the help of a $14,000 grant from the Floyd Hooker Foundation, Vergason-Gibson said they were able to replace much of the equipment lost to the flood. The rest, about equal in value Wolf estimated, came from the community from donations of toys, books, equipment and supplies. So, the Family Resource Center is once again a storefront space filled with toys and excitement for kids.
The Owego and Waverly Family Resource Centers are an educational program of Cornell Cooperative Extension, Wolf said. There are parenting workshops on child development, discipline and nutrition. Both Tioga County locations have a trained parent educator on site whenever they are open, just to talk with if a parent wishes. Other activities for parents and kids include food, music, art and reading. Storytime is augmented with a lending library of parenting books, literacy backpacks, toys and games.
With a drop-in play space, the FRC can be a good place to make friends with other parents and families while kids learn social skills as they play with other children, Wolf said. Other connections that can be made by parents include referrals to food and medical services as well as other community resources parents might find handy. Parents are also encouraged to get involved in parent-teacher organizations and attend meetings in the community. "Our goal is to have kids raised in a strong and healthy community," Wolf said.
Drop-in play and parenting workshops are free, Vergason-Gibson said, though there is sometimes a charge for field trips and special activities. Both the Owego and Waverly locations are closed Fridays, but otherwise open weekdays. The Owego FRC is open from 3 to 7 p.m. on Monday, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday and from 1 to 5 p.m. on Wednesday.
The Waverly FRC is located at 374 Broad St. and is open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Monday and Wednesday, from 1 to 5 p.m. on Tuesday and from 3 to 8 p.m. on Thursday. Volunteers are always welcome, as are donations.
Call the Owego FRC at (607) 687-1571 or Waverly at (607) 565-2374 for more details.