Yolo Crisis Nursery: New Year Brings a New Chapter.

The holidays bring much joy, but for those battling mental illness, the many stresses of the season can be overwhelming.

Early last month, Joan, the mother of a newborn baby, reached out to the nursery seeking respite care. Joan delivered her baby to the nursery, completed the paperwork, and said her goodbyes. When Joan did not return for her baby, it quickly became clear she intended to leave her child for good.

Joan suffers from mental illness and had stopped taking her medications. Thankfully, she had listed her parents as an emergency contact. The nursery sprang into action, located the grandparents of the infant, and helped to locate Joan. The nursery’s wraparound service supported the grandparents with care for the baby, and we helped Joan get the care she needed.

A month later, Joan is in treatment, back on medication and has a new job and a new place to live. And most importantly, she is with her child. Joan recently told us, “I am so thankful for the nursery’s help. Without it, I would have lost my baby.”

It is stories like Joan’s that have made my wife, Chris, and me long-term supporters of the Yolo Crisis Nursery both personally and through our business, Fleet Feet in Davis.

In the fall of 2014, Heidy Kellison and Becky Heard asked me to meet to discuss the Yolo Crisis Nursery. Just a few months earlier, these women had led the charge with their bundles of energy to save the nursery after the sponsoring agency departed Yolo County. This left the nursery in jeopardy of closing after serving the county since 2001.

My first thought was they were looking for a donation, but no, it was me.

The grassroots effort to save the nursery had raised enough money to fund 12 months of operations. However, without a new sponsoring agency, it was decided that the best option for long-term success was to become an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit. A charter board of directors was being recruited, and they wanted me, a local business owner and nursery supporter, to join them.

My inclination was to say no as my wife, Chris, and I were on the verge of retirement. Instead, I said yes and committed to two years as a board member. I am now finishing my fourth and final year on the board of directors alongside Becky Heard. I am moving on to retirement to enjoy my family and some travel. Becky will remain actively involved by leading the nursery’s development and community outreach.

I signed up to support the nursery, but the experience has enriched my life. Working with this dedicated group of individuals to help the Yolo Crisis Nursery transition from survive to thrive has been meaningful, satisfying, and educational.

In 2015, our nine-member board was tasked with the job of building a plane as it was flying. The board has now grown to 15 members. The plane is flying just fine, only now it needs to fly farther, faster and higher. I know it will.

The incoming board for 2019 includes five new members who are joining a powerhouse of experience, commitment and passion. It is my pleasure to introduce:

  • Wendy Chason, retired Davis Joint Unified School District teacher and librarian. Wendy dedicated her career to children’s education and now, in retirement, is continuing her commitment to helping Yolo County kids.
  • Penny Howard, real estate agent. Penny has experience in Real Estate and Accounting with Yolo County, with a bachelor’s degree in social work. Penny’s commitment to helping people has been the cornerstone of her career and her life.
  • Eric Miller, attorney with Boutin Jones. Eric is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom II and is active in numerous community and charitable organizations.
  • Will Pro, Owner, Will Pro Construction. Will is a Yolo County native and a third-generation builder with expertise in construction and development.
  • Steven S. Willhoff, CPA and partner at Carbahal and Company, joined the board of directors as treasurer. Steve has a wealth of accounting and tax expertise and is actively engaged in helping the children in our community.

The holidays are about giving, enjoying time with treasured family and friends and being thankful for all we have. I am thankful for my time with the Yolo Crisis Nursery. It has enriched my life, helped my community. I encourage you to be grateful and generous to your loved ones and to those in our community, like Joan, who are struggling this holiday season.

The nursery would not exist without the generosity and support of our community. Investing in the nursery is not just investing in the future of the children we serve, it is investing in the future of our community. To learn more about the Yolo Crisis Nursery, to get involved or to donate, please visit www.yolocrisisnursery.org.

— J.D. Denton is a retiring member of Yolo Crisis Nursery Board of Directors.

If you’ve ever cared for a young child, you are familiar with the anxiety in trying to comfort an infant or toddler with a high fever at 3 a.m.

Your mind races with concern for the child, wondering when the fever will break and if they need to see a doctor, followed with the realization that you need to be at work in just a few hours. You know the dread of having to make a choice between your child and a job interview or medical appointment, cancelling a work meeting you organized or explaining your late arrival again to a boss because another babysitter bailed at the last minute.

As a single mom, I faced many of these decisions when my daughter was young. My daughter is now grown, and I am a proud grandmother of two beautiful girls. I am also retired and in the fortunate position of being able to help in caring for my grandchildren when these situations arise. Our family is very fortunate, unlike many moms and dads in our community who do not have a safety net and need to make difficult choices as parents of young children.

Even worse, numerous families in our community face very serious, sometimes life-threatening, circumstances due to severe health challenges, job loss, homelessness or domestic violence.

As a parent and grandparent, I understand what a safety net of love and support can do for young children and their parents. That is why I assist the talented staff and dedicated Board of Directors and volunteers of the Yolo Crisis Nursery to raise support for the nursery’s mission: to provide early intervention services in a safe environment to nurture healthy and resilient children, strengthen parents and preserve families.

Yolo Crisis Nursery offers a combination of trauma-informed emergency and respite childcare with wrap-around services for parents. This model is unique in California. In fact, the nursery is one of only four crisis nurseries in the entire state. The nursery is unique not only for the services offered, but also because it is a home and a place of hope and help for Yolo County families. The nursery has had great success in protecting local children and preserving their families.

Last year, 97 percent of families receiving nursery services:

  • Completed a referral to support services.
  • Reported a reduction in stress after using our services.
  • Did not become a part of the child welfare system.

The success of the nursery is vital to keeping our Yolo County kids safe, with 64 percent of clients reporting being at risk of domestic abuse and 54 percent of the children experiencing or at risk of homelessness.

Giving Tuesday
Following Thanksgiving and the widely recognized holiday shopping events Black Friday and Cyber Monday is Giving Tuesday on Nov. 27. It is a global day of giving that harnesses the collective power of individuals, communities and organizations to encourage philanthropy and to celebrate generosity.

Won’t you join me in kicking off the giving season by donating to the Yolo Crisis Nursery on Giving Tuesday? The holidays are a wonderful time to give back to our community, especially to our children whose families are experiencing extreme stress, trauma or crisis. Your donation will help to keep this vitally important work serving Yolo County’s young children and their families alive.

Our gifts provide critical support so that a local mom or dad will never have to make a difficult choice or leave a young child in an unsafe situation. Together we will realize Yolo Crisis Nursery’s vision of every child in Yolo County growing up in a safe, loving and stable home.

If you or someone you know needs emergency or respite childcare, contact Yolo Crisis Nursery at 530-758-6680. Nursery services are available 24/7, 365 days a year.

Gifts to the Yolo Crisis Nursery can be made on the nursery’s website: www.yolocrisisnursery.org or by mail to Yolo Crisis Nursery, 1107 Kennedy Place, Suite 5, Davis, CA 95616. The Yolo Crisis Nursery is here because of the generous support of our community. We thank you!

— Cam Stoufer has been the Fund Development Director of the Yolo Crisis Nursery since 2014. Reach her at cstoufer@yolocrisisnursery.org.

This article is by Cam Stoufer and originally appeared in the Davis Enterprise on November 25, 2018.