Woodburn has received increased services for-at risk children this year, and the providers of those services want to celebrate that this month.
Family Building Blocks, a nonprofit certified Relief Nursery, announced that it has formed a partnership with First Presbyterian Church of Woodburn to open a new location. The nonprofit also has locations in Salem and Stayton.
"We are thrilled to partner with Family Building Blocks. I have been impressed with their staff; they are professional, experienced and warmhearted," said Rev. Cynthia J. O'Brien, a First Presbyterian Church of Woodburn pastor. "They have carefully crafted an intentionally therapeutic learning environment at the church that will nurture infants and toddlers.
"I'm happy that families will also be able to take advantage of a food pantry and clothes closet," O'Brian added.
The Woodburn FBB will be having an open house from 4 to 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 11, at First Presbyterian Church, 950 N Boones Ferry Road. Light refreshments will be provided.
FBB Executive Director Patrice Altenhofen said she and one of the group's advisory board members, Dick Withnell, met with church officials to develop the partnership, which began on July 12. She noted that the Relief Nursery staff are currently supporting 75 children and their families in north Marion county, but 35 more area children are listed as "unserved," so FBB anticipates growing to serve 100 by 2020.
Altenhofen said getting a presence in Woodburn has been a priority.
"It's been part of our strategic plan for several years, and it's so thrilling to see it come to fruition," she said.
Altenhofen said it was critical to establish a secure location to provide FBB services, which include a therapeutic classroom for kids and home visiting for families. First Presbyterian will house such a classroom, two teachers, two home visitors and a community outreach coordinator.
"By housing the FBB office at the church, we are privileged to help support home visits to 75 families in Woodburn, all for the stated goal of keeping children safe and families together," O'Brien said.
The pastor noted that a longtime Woodburn resident and church member, Walt Mangerich, arranged for a storage room to be converted to a laundry room so that FBB could have a washer and dryer on site.
Other area partners, including the YMCA, Marion County Court Care and Polk County Family & Community Outreach, chipped into the cause, so the facilities are almost completely furnished and ready.
Altenhofen also extended gratitude to a number of other community partners for facilitating the new location: Randy and Robyn Compton, Mountain West Investment Corporation, Salem Health, and Dick and Gayle Withnell.
"This is a private/public partnership made possible in part by some generous donors who have recognized the need in Woodburn and have stepped up to make this a reality," O'Brien said.
Woodburn's First Presbyterian also partners with partners with Community Action Head Start Preschool, Meals on Wheels, Iglesia Puerta del Cielo, and Marion Polk Food Share / Presbyterian Community Garden.
FBB's slogan is "Keeping Children Safe and Families Together." In keeping with that, FBB staff and officials help out parents with children ages prenatal through 5 years, providing specialized, free, and voluntary prevention programs.
FBB officials said that roughly 99 percent of those children remain living safely with their families, avoiding foster care and the devastation of abuse and neglect.
Despite their efforts, many children remain at risk.
"For each family we are able to serve, there are at least three more who remain unserved and would greatly benefit from our support," Altenhofen noted.
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