An Ounce of Prevention


By Caroline J. Chantry

We are facing a public health crisis as Americans. I am not referring to COVID, though it has been exacerbated by the pandemic. New evidence highlighting the breadth, depth, and severity of this crisis is published almost daily.

The crisis we are facing is unacceptably high and increasing rates of adverse childhood experiences, or ACEs for short, and the resulting health consequences. ACEs are traumatic experiences in childhood such as physical or emotional neglect or abuse, and toxic stress resulting from situations such as parental mental illness or substance abuse, domestic violence or incarceration of family members.

Some of the worst health and social problems in our nation are negative effects of ACEs as these traumatic childhood experiences increase the likelihood of health issues as an adult.

ACEs are prevalent in our communities and span all segments of our community. The CDC states that “61% of adults surveyed across 25 states have experienced at least one type of ACE, and nearly 1 in 6 reported they had experienced four or more types of ACEs.” The most recent California data reveal even higher rates.

A child’s sense of safety, stability and connection is undermined if they are experiencing chronic and toxic stress. Exposure to intense and consistent stress alters children’s brain development, impacting their attention, decision-making, learning and response to stress.

Children who suffer prolonged trauma are more likely to experience mental and physical illnesses as adults. In a recent PBS interview, California Surgeon General Dr. Nadine Burke Harris stated that people experiencing four or more adverse childhood experiences have double the risk of developing heart disease and cancer.

Abused children are more likely to be violent as juveniles and at higher risk of becoming abusive in adult relationships, likely perpetuating the cycle. ACEs can also negatively impact education, job opportunities and earning potential.

The expansive and long-term impact of ACEs on the mental and physical health of our families and community is costly. We need a preventive approach. If we can intervene in crises before children experience prolonged trauma, then our society as a whole is healthier and stronger.

The Yolo Crisis Nursery is a gem of a resource in our community with its mission to provide early intervention services in a safe environment to nurture children to become healthy and resilient, strengthen parents and preserve families.

One of our clients, Jennifer, and her young son James were shaken to the core by a brutal domestic violence attack. Both mother and son were working hard at starting over when their past came back to haunt them in the middle of the night. Jennifer and James escaped that night with their lives, but both were severely traumatized.

Little James could recall every horrifying detail of the attack, and Jennifer sank into a deep depression. Our nursery staff worked with James in our trauma-informed respite care and preschool program, while Jennifer began attending to necessary legal issues and treatment for her depression.

Flash-forward to today, Jennifer and James are together and thriving. They are a stable family with a home, Jennifer is employed, and James is in preschool. We recently received a note from Jennifer: “As a family who benefited from your compassionate work, and as fellow caring humans, we are forever grateful for and inspired by the strength, dedication, kindness, and understanding with which you provide your crucial services for our community. Thank you so much!”

Jennifer and James are proof that we cannot erase the past or all adverse childhood experiences, but with help, we can work to lessen the impact and make the future as bright as possible.

The need for ACE prevention and mitigation to combat the public health crisis makes the Yolo Crisis Nursery’s mission of early intervention and wraparound services critical. We strive to work with clients to prevent and resolve crises so families can remain intact and children avoid trauma as much as possible.

— Caroline J. Chantry, M.D. is a member of the Yolo Crisis Nursery board of directors. This article was originally published in the Davis Enterprise on May 30, 2021.

 By Iliana Magana

DAVIS — The Yolo Crisis Nursery is a safe haven for numerous parents in need of nurturing child care and assistance. Heather Sleuter, the Executive Director of the Yolo Crisis Nursery, spoke about what it’s like working there and helping members of the community. 

When asked, “What has proven to be the most challenging part?” of working at The Nursery, Sleuter said, “Since we are a crisis nursery, we never know what kind of crisis will present itself when the phone rings or there is a knock on our door. The cases we see can be dramatic and heartbreaking, but the reward of seeing families emerge together and be more resilient is the most rewarding part of our work at the Nursery. “

Additionally, Sleuter stated, “We are open and helping children and families 24 hours a day and 365 days a year. Last year we served almost 700 children and provided over 2,600 safe stays for at-risk children and distributed over 2,700 care packages of childcare essentials like diapers, wipes, formula, and clothing.”

She was also asked if there is a specific time limit for parents to receive aid, to which she responded, “As a crisis nursery, we offer 30 days of care over a 60-day period.”

​Sleuter shared that a caseworker is assigned to each child, parent or family. She said, “The caseworker will work with family members and create a step-by-step plan to minimize the stress for the children, and not only resolve the immediate crisis, but work to put safeguards in place that work to minimize the root cause of the crisis, so it does not happen again.”

She added, “The caseworkers are in regular contact with the families and are available to answer questions that arise and to refer them to additional community resources. The Yolo Crisis Nursery wraps our client families with love and support.”

Furthermore, she explained how their “amazing trauma-informed caregivers compassionately care for children as their parents, families or guardians work to resolve the crises that brought them to our door. The child receives specialty care in a home-like environment and our talented staff, and therapists (when needed) provide loving care and learning opportunities through our licensed preschool and infant care programs.”

Sleuter was then asked, “What has been the most impactful event from working with The Yolo Crisis Nursery?” She responded, “I’ve been the Chief Executive Officer at the Nursery for 14 years. The most impactful part of my role is seeing first-hand the growth and stability that families are capable of achieving in a short time. When a family leaves the Nursery, we personally check in with them at 3, 6, 9 and 12 months. During this time, we see families heal and make life changes that are the foundation for a stable and thriving family such as permanent housing, stable employment, and a healthy, safe environment for their child. It doesn’t get better than that.”

The Nursery has changed the lives of many, and when asked what she would say to someone experiencing domestic violence at home, or is in crisis and needs assistance providing for their children. 

She said, “Even under the best of circumstances, we understand parenting is hard. It takes an incredible act of love for your child to ask for help. The Yolo Crisis Nursery is a safe and hopeful place. We specialize in ensuring client’s safety and privacy, while also connecting parents and children with additional services. We can literally help them change their lives. 99 percent of the respite care families we serve do NOT enter child protective services.”

Moreover, Sleuter recalled how the Nursery helped change the life of a domestic violence survivor. She said, “​The anonymous survivor was escaping domestic violence and came to the Nursery in early 2020. In her words, ‘I don’t know what I would have done without the Crisis Nursery. My client navigator helped me map out a plan for my life. I returned to school to complete my Certified Nurse Assistant Program while the Nursery cared for my two boys. My boys thrived at the Nursery, staff helped them potty train and reach age-appropriate developmental milestones. I finished my nursing program, got a job and I am continuing my education to become an LVN. I am living proof of the enormous impact the Nursery has on a family in crisis.’”

Additionally, Sleuter said that although every family is working to solve a different crisis, they “help families resolve issues such as domestic violence, homelessness, unemployment, or drug addiction. As they reach milestones in the program the resounding phrase we hear is ‘I could not have done this without you.’”

Sleuter concluded by saying that anyone and everyone can contribute to the Yolo Crisis Nursery, and lend a helping hand to those in need of assistance. She said, “there are several ways to help the Yolo Crisis Nursery. We can always use clothes, wipes, diapers, and formula. We also accept gently used children’s items. [The public] could help raise awareness and funds to support the Yolo Crisis Nursery by joining the Friends of the Yolo Crisis Nursery, and attending our annual Barn Dance in October and Crab Feed in March. Most importantly a financial donation to the Nursery enables us to continue to serve Yolo County’s most vulnerable children.”

Iliana Magana is a third-year transfer student at UC Davis, double majoring in Communications and Political Science. She is from Huntington Park, California

I can still remember the trembling of her lips and the fear in her eyes as my mother begged my siblings and me to go to our room and lock the door. We did not want to leave her alone with him, but if we did not, my father’s rage would spill on to us.

As you can probably guess by now, I did not grow up in a safe and stable home. I was born in Mexico and raised by a single mother who came to this country to escape abuse and to build a brighter future for our family. My mother worked two jobs to provide for my siblings and me and still struggled to make ends meet. While growing up, I felt the chronic stress that adversity and abuse cause. This is why I want to do everything in my power to raise awareness and create change so that other children do not have to experience what I did.

Child abuse is an issue that should concern everyone because children are our future. Did you know that 9 million children live in California and that one in four of them experience abuse or neglect at some point in their lives?  April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month and as a community, we must unite and fight to raise awareness. All children have a fundamental need for a safe, stable, and loving home, and the time to make this a reality and create change is now.

Growing up in a healthy environment should not be a privilege. It should be every child’s right. It is our shared civic responsibility to help ensure all children grow up in a safe, stable and loving home. Supporting, protecting, and funding this fundamental right will benefit everyone and will allow all our children a real chance to grow into healthy adults who will improve our communities and society as a whole.

For the past 20 years, Yolo Crisis Nursery has worked tirelessly to protect at-risk children while also keeping families together. The nursery is only one of four crisis nurseries in the state. It is unique because it provides trauma-informed emergency childcare for families in crisis while creating a support system that not only helps to mitigate the current crisis but helps avoid new ones in the future. This approach has been very successful. We are proud that 98% of respite care families served at the Yolo Crisis Nursery have not entered child protective services.

Child abuse knows no boundaries. It occurs across all income levels and racial and ethnic backgrounds. Many factors contribute to child abuse and neglect, including stress, family history of violence, poverty, substance abuse and even chronic health conditions.

Today, the nursery’s work is more important than ever. Family stress levels are through the roof as a result of the pandemic. The number of families experiencing crises and adversity has increased enormously. More and more families are in need of support and the Yolo Crisis Nursery is there for our community.  We never turn children away.

My commitment to making a difference for future generations motivated me to become a first-generation college student, and last year I earned my bachelor’s degree in psychology with a minor in sociology from UC Davis. I am now applying to graduate school with the goal of obtaining my Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology.

Having personally experienced it, I understand how detrimental toxic stress can be on a person’s mental and physical health. Consequently, I want to do everything within my means to raise awareness of its devastating effects and be a part of the solution.

I recently joined the Yolo Crisis Nursery Board of Directors because we share a passion to prevent child abuse, preserve families, and create change. Child abuse and neglect is an issue that affects everyone. There is a well-known quote that asserts “we need to be the change that we want to see,” and I invite you to join me in being a part of that change.

On May 6, the Sacramento regional community will come together for the Big Day of Giving. It is a 24-hour generosity movement and an opportunity to rally around our local nonprofits after a uniquely challenging year. Every gift, no matter the size, makes a difference!

We hope you will give from your heart to the Yolo Crisis Nursery to help us build safe, stable, and loving homes for Yolo County children to grow up in. Thanks to the generosity of the MJ & MP Whelan-Miille Family Charitable Fund’s donation of  $5,000  and Alan and Mary Buckpitt’s donation of $1,000, they have come together to match the first $6,000 in Big Day of Giving donations dollar-for-dollar!

Your gift will help the Nursery provide services to protect children and help at-risk families achieve stability.

We encourage those who are able to please make a gift on May 6. You can schedule your gift now by visiting our website at www.yolocrisisnursery.org or by mailing a check to 1107 Kennedy Place, Suite 5, Davis, CA 95616.

The Yolo Crisis Nursery is saving children’s lives and transforming families. We all need to be the change we hope to see, and your gift will directly support the frontline work that the Nursery is doing to keep our community’s most vulnerable children safe and their families whole.

This article was written by Erika Y. Cisneros, Member of the Yolo Crisis Nursery Board of Directors. The article originally appeared in the Davis Enterprise on April 25, 2021.

To Yolo Crisis Nursery Crab Feed Co-Chairs Nancy Storm and Martha Bernauer, it was never a question of “if” we would hold our ninth annual event; it was always a matter of “how.”

All money raised at the Crab Feed goes directly to support our respite-care programs, and with the past year having been extraordinarily challenging for the children and families the Nursery serves, not having the Crab Feed was simply not an option to Nancy and Martha.

The Yolo Crisis Nursery Crab Feed was the first of its kind for us with a drive-through Crab Feed and virtual SHELLebration. We served over 600 crab dinners and hosted a multitude of people at our virtual event. Our community’s support and enthusiasm for the Nursery and Crab Feed exceeded our wildest dreams and was made possible by our generous sponsors, donors, volunteers and guests, to whom we say thank you, thank you, thank you!

We are deeply grateful to you, our community, for turning out in such force, demonstrating, once again, your unified support for the Nursery’s programs to prevent child abuse, nurture healthy and resilient children, strengthen parents, and preserve families. Thank you to everyone involved with the event for your commitment to the Nursery and to Yolo County’s most vulnerable children and their families.

It takes a village, and we cannot thank our volunteers enough, particularly Martha Bernauer, Sharon Schauer and Nancy Storm. The year-after-year growth of this sell-out event would not be possible without your leadership and tireless efforts. The Crab Feed is produced by the Friends of the Yolo Crisis Nursery Committee. We send heartfelt appreciation and a very special thanks to the entire Friends’ Committee for making the world a better place for the children of Yolo County.

On behalf of the board of directors, the nursery staff and the Friends of the Yolo Crisis Nursery, we would like to recognize and thank our Premier Sponsor Clark Pacific and King Crab Sponsors Jim and Lucinda Childress for their generosity and support.

Sincere thanks to our generous Dungeness Crab Sponsors Davis Firefighters Local #3494 and Davis Sunrise Rotary.

To our wonderful Blue Crab Sponsors: Assemblywoman Cecilia Aguiar-Curry; Bayer U.S. — Crop Science Vegetable Seeds; Brooks Painting; Boutin Jones Inc.; Carbahal & Company; Davisville Management Company; Mary and Harris Liu of Woodland McDonald’s; Marguerite Callahan; Nicole Davis of Edward Jones; Recology Davis; and the Vandermyden and Maddux Law Corporation — thank you.

Thank you to Collegiate Studios, Robin Dunbar, Lamppost Pizza, Nugget Markets, University Park Inn and Suites, and Upper Crust Bakery for your generous donations. And a very special thank you to our volunteers from the National Charity League and to our volunteer kitchen crew and traffic team. You were amazing. Charles King and Pacific Auction of Davis, we are extremely grateful for your expertise and assistance with our first-ever virtual SHELLebration.

Last but certainly not least, thank you to the numerous businesses, community groups, and individuals who donated items for our live and silent auctions. Your generosity was a critical piece to our success. Our community of small businesses always rallies to support those in need in our community, and we encourage you to shop local to support them.

If you are interested in helping the most vulnerable children and families in Yolo County, please consider joining the fun and fundraising for the Yolo Crisis Nursery by lending your time and talents to the Friends of the Yolo Crisis Nursery. Simply email friends@yolocrisisnursery.org. The Friends meet via Zoom on the second Tuesday of every month at 5:30 p.m. The rewards are priceless along with the laughter and warm community you’ll encounter in the Friends’ group.

Please visit our website, www.yolocrisisnursery.org, and subscribe to our e-newsletter to learn more about our upcoming events and to learn more about the nursery.


— This article originally appeared in the Davis Enterprise on Sunday, March 28, 2021, and was written by JoEllen Welsch, president, and Heather Sleuter, executive director, of the Yolo Crisis Nursery.

Crab season is here and what is better than the community feel of a good old-fashioned crab feed? One of my favorites has always been the Yolo Crisis Nursery Crab Feed hosted by the Friends of the Yolo Crisis Nursery. It is hands down the best crab of the season and a fantastic way to support the Yolo Crisis Nursery.

As with most events since the onset of COVID, the Yolo Crisis Nursery Crab Feed has gone virtual. To our delight tickets are selling quickly, so get yours soon to secure your delicious crab dinner. Each dinner includes delicious fresh crab, Caesar salad, pasta, roll and a cookie; order your dinner tickets at www.yolocrisisnursery.org.

To keep everyone safe and healthy, we are taking COVID-19 precautions and here is how it will all work: First, order your dinner online at www.yolocrisisnursery.org, then on Saturday, March 13, at your selected time between 4 and 6 p.m., drive through for a masked, contactless, dinner pick-up at the University Park Inn and Suites Conference Site, 1121 Richards Boulevard, in Davis. You can then return home to enjoy your dinner and favorite beverage at your leisure.

Following dinner, we invite you to join our entertaining virtual event from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. In addition to securing some really exciting auction items, the Friends of the Yolo Crisis Nursery have plenty of fun planned for the virtual event. Registration for the virtual event is complimentary and all are encouraged to pre-register via www.yolocrisisnursery.org. On March 8, 2021, the online silent auction will open, and you will be able to preview the live auction lots. Be sure to check out the impressive lineup so you can get your winning bid in!

As a recent addition to the Nursery’s Board of Directors, I share in the hope that our community will support this year’s virtual effort the same as it has our past in-person events. As always, all proceeds from the dinner and virtual event will support the Yolo Crisis Nursery. This has been an incredibly challenging year for the clients we serve, as well as for our dedicated staff who have seen a dramatic rise in the need for our services.

The Nursery is Yolo County’s beacon of hope for families with young children who are in crisis. It helps care for the children but also addresses the root causes of the crises to get families back on their feet and help them grow stronger together. Open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, the Yolo Crisis Nursery never turns a child away. Last year the Nursery served almost 700 Yolo County children and distributed over 2,700 care packages filled with essential items for families with young children in need.

Our community’s ability to help others in their time of need is one of the things I love most about Yolo County. Having lived and worked here all my life, I have seen and felt the compassion and generosity. As a former police officer now realtor, and dad to three amazing daughters, I am called to help others. As a community, I believe that positive and healthy childhoods are a cornerstone of our community’s compassion and success and that we need to look out for those who are struggling and lend them a helping hand.

We are so fortunate to have the Yolo Crisis Nursery in Yolo County. It is a unique and amazing resource, and I am honored to be the newest member of its Board of Directors. We are a volunteer board from diverse backgrounds and skill sets, but we are united in our dedication to the Nursery’s vision that every child in Yolo County grows up in a safe, loving, and stable home.

This past year has truly been like no other. With so many children and families in need, the Nursery needs your support now more than ever. I invite you to join me and my family for a good old-fashioned crab dinner and a much-needed night of virtual community fun to help children and families in need.

With your support, the Yolo Crisis Nursery can work with more families to adapt and overcome challenges. To learn more about the Yolo Crisis Nursery or to make a donation, please visit www.yolocrisisnursery.org.

— This article originally appeared in the Davis Enterprise on February 28, 2021 and is written by Jeremy Higgins, a member of the Yolo Crisis Nursery Board of Directors.

JoEllen Welsch – Davis Enterprise Letter to the Editor, published February 11, 2021

I have had the great honor and privilege of serving on the Yolo Crisis Nursery Board of Directors since January 2017. During my tenure, I have been continually impressed with the generosity of the Yolo County community in which I live, and since the onset of COVID, I am in absolute awe. In the past year, the Nursery has experienced a remarkable increased response to our outreach efforts to help us meet the surge in demand for our services. Our hearts are overflowing by the response and also for the unsolicited giving from a multitude of individuals, organizations, and institutions.

On an average day — pre-COVID — the children and families that we serve were already experiencing challenges involving domestic violence, mental and physical health emergencies, substance abuse and addiction, homelessness, sudden job loss, and other adversities. As you can imagine, every issue weighing on our client children and families has been exacerbated by the reverberating effects of the pandemic, and the number of referrals to the Nursery for critical assistance has substantially risen. Yolo Crisis Nursery is an essential provider for children and families whose situations went from urgent to potentially catastrophic with the arrival of COVID in our community.

Following strict safety mandates, the doors to the Nursery have remained open 24/7 to the infants and children who need us and to the families of essential workers with nowhere else to turn. COVID has taxed the Nursery’s staffing and resources like never before, but as our executive director, Heather Sleuter, frequently reminds me, “we figure it out” because we never say no and we never turn anyone away.

I am deeply proud of my compassionate community, and on behalf of our entire organization — our staff, volunteers, and Board of Directors—and from the children and families that we serve, thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

JoEllen Welsch
President, Yolo Crisis Nursery Board of Directors

It is crab season in California, and that means the ninth annual Yolo Crisis Nursery Crab Feed is just around the corner! We’ve gone virtual this year and are planning an evening of food, fun, and fundraising on Saturday, March 13, 2021.

This year’s Yolo Crisis Nursery Crab Feed will be a virtual shell-ebration like no other! The Friends of the Yolo Crisis Nursery have successfully produced this event since 2013 and are committed to creating a memorable and one-of-a-kind experience again this year.

Each dinner includes delicious fresh crab, Caesar salad, pasta, roll, and a cookie. Here’s how it works: first order online at www.yolocrisisnursery.org/yolocrisisnurserycrabfeed/, then on Saturday, March 13, between 4 and 6 p.m., drive through for a masked, contactless, dinner pick-up at the University Park Inn and Suites Conference Site, 1121 Richards Boulevard, in Davis. You can then return home to enjoy your dinner and favorite beverage at your leisure, and then join the virtual event from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m.

“Get ready for mouthwatering crab and a virtual event and auction that are sure to entertain.” says Yolo Crisis Nursery Board President JoEllen Welsch. “This past year has truly been like no other. The proceeds from our annual Crab Feed are an essential piece of the Nursery’s financial health and enable the Nursery to serve children and families in crisis. A successful crab feed will help the Nursery serve more of Yolo County’s at-risk children and their families.”

The live and silent auctions have a great lineup of items including one-of-a-kind art, golf outings, travel adventures, and tasty desserts. A live-auction preview and silent auction will open on March 8. Go to www.yolocrisisnursery.org/yolocrisisnurserycrabfeed/to learn more or to join our mailing list.

We are thrilled to announce that Clark Pacific is our premier sponsor. “We are honored to be the premier sponsor of the Crab Feed,” said Bob Clark, co-CEO Clark Pacific. “It is wonderful to partner with the Yolo Crisis Nursery as we share a passion for serving the youth of Yolo County.”

This event historically sells out well in advance, so don’t delay and get your tickets today. Individual tickets are only $50, and several levels of sponsorship are still available starting at $1,000. They can be purchased now at www.yolocrisisnursery.org/yolocrisisnurserycrabfeed/.

All Crab Feed proceeds go to the Yolo Crisis Nursery. The Nursery is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, for children and families in turmoil. Our services are free of charge, and we never turn children away. The Nursery’s emergency respite care program is funded by the generosity of people like you.

The Yolo Crisis Nursery’s work is often best illustrated by our clients’ successes. Frank, a loving and hard-working father, found himself in crisis when Mary,his partner and mother of his 2-year old son, went missing. Mary suffers from mental illness, and for reasons unknown, she did not come home. Frank and his son, Jack, were devastated and suddenly alone, without a support network.

Prior to her departure, Mary cared for Jack while Frank worked full-time as a landscaper. With Mary gone, Frank was at a tipping point. He had no one to care for Jack and had used all his paid leave at work. If Frank stayed at home to care for Jack, he would lose his job and home.

Thankfully, Frank found the Yolo Crisis Nursery. Through the intake process our trauma-informed staff identified that Jack was autistic. The staff quickly coordinated additional medical screenings, check-ups, and initiated other critical services.

The Nursery also provided childcare for Jack, who was nurtured, fed nutritious meals, and enjoyed an enriching curriculum through the onsite preschool. Meanwhile, Frank was able to maintain his full-time employment, while working closely with Nursery’s staff to navigate his son’s diagnosis and his childcare crisis. With the Nursery’s help, Frank connected with community resources that helped him find long-term childcare and develop a support network of other parents.

Frank worked hard to build a new life for himself and Jack. This family is now thriving in fact, Frank was recently promoted to a managerial position at work.

Every child and family that the Yolo Crisis Nursery serves is unique, and each one is in crisis with little or no support system, and all are in need of aid. The Nursery keeps young, vulnerable children safe and helps their parents resolve their immediate crises. The Nursery continues to work with and follow families for one year to ensure that they successfully transition out of crisis, the children remain safe, and the family stays whole.

Please join us on March 13th for crab and fun to help at-risk Yolo County children avert disaster. To learn more about the Nursery or to donate, please visitwww.yolocrisisnursery.org

This article was written by Martha Bernauer and Nancy Storm, chairs of the 9th annual Yolo Crisis Nursery Crab Feed. It originally appeared in the Davis Enterprise on January 24, 2021

When crab season comes each year to Northern California so does the Annual Yolo Crisis Nursery Crab Feed. The 2021 Yolo Crisis Nursery Crab Feed will be a virtual SHELLebration like no other! We’ll have lots of fun fundraising for vulnerable children in Yolo County!

The Friends of the Yolo Crisis Nursery have worked hard to plan a unique, one-of-a-kind experience for you.

As of March 1st, we sold out of crab dinners.

Registration is still open for the complimentary virtual SHELLebration, so register today to join in on the fun!

The Silent Auction is OPEN! Don’t miss out on all the unique silent auction items. Place your bid today!

If you have any questions, please contact Becky Heard bheard@yolocrisisnursery.org.

It has been over 10 months since the first COVID-19 case was diagnosed in Yolo County. In that time, much has been asked of all of us, from flexibility, bravery and resilience to fortitude, patience and austerity. At Yolo Crisis Nursery, we have also seen firsthand the even greater impact this time of uncertainty, grief and upheaval has had on our community’s most vulnerable young children and families.

Yet, today, even as we are called on to address worrying increases in domestic violence, homelessness, and mental health emergencies, it is not difficult to conjure a deep sense of gratitude, which comes from knowing that we at the Nursery are not meeting these challenges alone.

Recently, a former Yolo Crisis Nursery parent took the time to share this note: “We need caring and compassionate people more than anything, especially now. You are front line workers not just in this pandemic, but always, for every crisis. As a family who benefited directly from your compassionate work, and also just as fellow caring humans, we are forever grateful for and inspired by the strength, dedication, kindness, proficiency and understanding with which you provide crucial services to our community.”

I couldn’t agree more. Today, I am grateful for our staff at the nursery who have never wavered in their commitment to our mission. The work of protecting children from abuse and neglect requires building and maintaining supportive, trusting and empowering relationships with families. Every day our staff continues tirelessly to innovate and adapt to changing safety protocols, never losing sight of the importance of staying connected with the people we serve.

I am grateful for our Board of Directors and volunteers who have rallied in so many ways to guide and support the nursery through this unprecedented time. Their steadfast contributions of time, talent, and resources make it possible for us to respond nimbly to the evolving needs of vulnerable children and families.

I am grateful for our fellow nonprofits and service providers working diligently to collaborate in the best interest of children and families during a time of greatly increased need and decreased resources.

Many of the families we serve are essential workers facing health and safety hazards they never anticipated, while coping with serious hardships and childcare challenges as they struggle to make ends meet each month. I am grateful the Nursery can be a resource for families who contribute so much to our community.

Whether it is the gift of a warm coat, a care package of formula and diapers, or a safe stay for a child while a parent addresses hardship — we see and hear the gratitude and relief when a family in crisis understands that they are not alone.

In addition to gratitude, I look ahead to 2021 with a sense of hope. Just today, I learned that a single father, Frank, who came to us months ago on the brink of homelessness, has secured a job promotion and stable housing where he can safely raise his young son with autism. With the support of the Nursery and our collaborators, Frank can now see the light at the end of the tunnel. Stories like Frank’s and so many others help me see that light too.

As this challenging year comes to a close, and we look to 2021 with hope for health, happiness, and a return to some version of normal, I invite you to join us with an end of year gift to the Yolo Crisis Nursery to ensure that families, like Frank’s, see and feel the hope of the new year. To donate or learn more about the Yolo Crisis Nursery, please visit our website www.yolocrisisnursery.org.

— This article written by Heather Sleuter, executive director of the Yolo Crisis Nursery, originally appeared in the Davis Enterprise on December 27, 2020