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New volunteer opportunity offered to help parents of young children

March 22, 2012
The Alpena News

A new volunteer opportunity in Alcona, Alpena and Montmorency County will focus on helping parents of young children who are dealing with difficult situations. Parents and other interested residents will be trained as Parent Navigators through the cooperative efforts of the Great Start Collaborative, its Parent Coalitions and the county-based poverty inititiatves.

Parents of children ages birth to five years (Neighbors) will be able to work with a Parent Navigator to explore options and select a responsible course of action that will meet the family's immediate need. They may want to talk further about ways to create safer, stable and more productive circumstances. The relationship is informal and voluntary; it may be occasional or ongoing.

Four Parent Navigators were trained Monday at Hillman, and additional trainings will be held:

The sessions are from 5 to 8 p.m. and include a light meal.

The Parent Navigator outreach offers the community style of people-helping-people approach. When you have a question or would like someone to help you think about a situation, the Navigator will take your call, answer your e-mail, or get together with you.

The Neighbor sets the course; the Navigator is there to help them figure out the best route to getting needs met. The Navigator brings experience, personal networks and community relationships to the conversation. Trained and equipped with a "toolbox" of local resources and parenting information, Parent Navigators are prepared to stand next to Neighbors to help them unravel some of the complexities their facing. Nearly five years of Navigator-Neighbor experience in other communities shows that the connection can transform individuals and families.

Training volunteer Parent Navigators is the first step to fully implementing the process in the three counties of the Great Start Collaborative. Promoting Parent Navigators and linking Neighbors with them is the second phase. The Great Start Parent Coalitions and poverty initiatives in each county are working together on that.

The three counties are part of Region 2 Voices for Action (V4A) Network, a statewide poverty reduction initiative begun in 2008. Local V4A affiliates are My Brother's Hope in Alcona County, The Community-Wide Team in Alpena County, and Montmorency Resource Connections (MeRCy) in Montmorency County. Navigator training is delivered by Carlene Przykucki of Partners In Prevention

Registration is required for the upcoming Parent Navigator trainings in Harrisville and Alpena. Call Desiree Lipski, Great Start Collaborative coordinator, at 1-800-779-0396 or 356-4567. Extension for both numbers is 3021.



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