North Sacramento Family Resource Center serves as community hub for people with kids
BY ALLEN PIERLEONI
Rosemary Schapira has been on the job only since October, but there’s no doubt about her mastery of the complex social-services network she runs.
As program manager of the North Sacramento Family Resource Center, directing a staff of 20, she’s clear on the mission: “We’re a community hub here to support anyone in the community who has a child (ages zero to 17) in their life,” she said. “The most important thing we do is adapt to families’ needs. Whatever the family tells us it needs, we can get it through our many resources.”
Parents, she said, “need support and someone to hear them out along the way. If anything, we’re here to empower them.
“It’s so important they understand that learning happens in the home and that they are their child’s first and best teacher,” she said. “So when their child gets to kindergarten, it’s not a case of starting to learn, but continuing to learn.”
The NSFRC is one of three such centers around Sacramento, under the umbrella of the Sacramento Children’s Home. Its services are prodigious and include support groups, parenting workshops, help with housing and employment, transportation, intervention and legal assistance, as well as free classes and workshops on everything from nutrition and baby-bonding to socialization and stress management.
“It depends on what the family is searching for,” Schapira said.
Of course, not everything literally occurs on site. “We facilitate a lot of our services through referrals to other very knowledgeable resources in the area, but we don’t just send families on their way and hope for the best,” Schapira said. “We follow up to make sure they’re getting what they need.”
Home visitation also is an integral part of the program.
“Our home visitors meet with parents where families live,” Schapira said. “They offer another supportive person in their lives, someone who can be there with you and make sure you’re getting what you need.”
The center’s base is in the hundreds of families, and Schapira has seen many new faces since she arrived. “Word of mouth spreads,” she said.
Another way the center recruits new families is through creative outreach activities.
“We love to be out in the community, meeting families,” she said. “We go to places where we know they will be – grocery stores, laundromats, apartment houses, places of worship. We just went to a turkey giveaway, where more than 70 families filled out interest forms. We followed up and invited them here to learn more about us.”
So, is the center making a difference in North Sacramento?
“Definitely,” Schapira said. “I strongly believe powerful interactions create a lifetime of change, and every day we’re making them with parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and children.
“It’s an organized storm,” she added, “and sometimes life is messy. The great thing is, we understand that.”
The North Sacramento Family Resource Center will host Winter Wonderland, 1-4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 21. The annual holiday gala will feature cookie decorating, gift giveaways, crafts and age-appropriate winter-themed activities. All families are invited. Free. The NSFRC is at 1217 Del Paso Blvd., Suite B Sacramento, 915-679-3743, www.kidshome.org.