It is often said that every choice in life matters. As a long-time member of the Davis community and a pediatrician with a career focused on serving people in vulnerable and underserved communities, I never imagined the impact that a simple act of dropping off holiday donations for children in crisis could have on my own life.

When I stepped inside the Yolo Crisis Nursery, I was immediately struck by the staff’s attentive, respectful, and affectionate care. I looked into the eyes of those young children, and my life was forever changed. I saw fear and pain mixed with a child’s ever-trusting and resilient nature. If ever there is a time to intervene with warmth and kindness, it is during that immediate time of crisis.

I have seen much in my more than 25 years as a board-certified physician working with disadvantaged communities. One of the most impressive aspects of the Yolo Crisis Nursery is the culture of professionalism and commitment to excellence in the service of our clients. Every family at the Nursery is different, but all – adults and children alike — are treated with respect and compassion.

Since opening its doors in 2001, the Nursery has helped thousands of young children and families experiencing crisis—potentially avoiding the trauma of child abuse or neglect. The impact of the Nursery is often best understood through our client’s stories and successes. I want to share a recent success.

Lucas struggled to get up the two steps to enter the Nursery’s front door the first time he arrived. He was just two years old, had a heart condition and was morbidly obese – weighing more than three times the average two-year-old. Lucas’ medical conditions were the result of poor nutrition and neglect. As a physician, seeing this in a child just two years of age was heartbreaking and shocking. Lucas and his family came to the Nursery through a referral from a medical provider. The Nursery was a key piece of a safety plan for Lucas to focus on his physical, emotional and developmental needs.

Lucas began attending our specialized preschool, and the wrap-around services embraced his family with parenting education and connections to services to help them build a healthy lifestyle for their family. After just two months, Lucas is able to climb the stairs into the Nursery’s front door with ease. He has lost 20 pounds, and is able to interact and play with the other children. The journey has just begun for Lucas and his family, but they are all becoming healthier and stronger together. The Yolo Crisis Nursery helps children and families when they need it most, in times of crisis. The services the Nursery offers change lives, and in many cases can be the difference between life and death.

Children 5 years old and younger are the most likely to be victims of abuse, yet fortunately, they are usually quite resilient if intervention is swift and nurturing. Targeted, critically time-sensitive support can make all the difference.

I have been a supporter of the Yolo Crisis Nursery ever since that chilly December day several years ago, and I am proud to be completing my third year as a member of the Board of Directors.

You can also support the Nursery and its critical mission. An easy way to take that first step is to join us on Saturday, October 19, at 6 pm at Central Park in Davis as we kick up our heels for kids at our inaugural Barn Dance. The Barn Dance will be hosted by the Friends of the Yolo Crisis Nursery and is sponsored by Nugget Markets. This amazing event will bring our community together for a night of entertainment, dancing, and fun, all to benefit the Yolo Crisis Nursery.

If an evening of good old-fashioned fun is not reason enough to come to the Barn Dance, come for Lucas and the thousands of children in crisis that the Yolo Crisis Nursery has helped since its opening. I invite you to get your Barn Dance Tickets today — they are just $25, and include one beverage ticket. Tickets can be purchased now at www.yolocrisisnursery.org.

If you cannot come to the Barn Dance, there are many other ways to support the Nursery: volunteer to hold babies, make a financial contribution, or join the Friends of the Yolo Crisis Nursery. To donate, get involved, or to learn more about how you can help, please visit www.yolocrisisnursery.org. Find out, like I did, how this impactful organization changes lives.

— This article originally appeared in the Davis Enterprise on Sunday, September 22, 2019, and was written by Samrina Marshall. Samrina is a pediatrician and a board member for the Yolo Crisis Nursery.

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