Kids bag groceries for the Food Depot.
Snowy days in the mountains are lovely if you have a warm home and food in the fridge. But New Mexico has one of the highest rates of households in extreme poverty -- those with income below 50 percent of the federal poverty level -- according to a recent study by Southern Education Foundation. More than half of all children in Santa Fe Public Schools come from homes living in extreme or merely "regular" poverty. These children show up at school with exceptional needs that interfere with their ability to learn, socialize and grow.
The following Santa Fe lunch kitchens and food pantries provide groceries and hot meals to families and individuals. Thank you for doing whatever you can to help others in New Mexico this winter and throughout the year, and for sharing this list with those who need assistance.
Bag ‘n Hand Pantry at St. John’s United Methodist Church
1200 Old Pecos Trail (corner of Cordova Road)
Santa Fe, NM 87505
What they offer: Food every Tuesday and Thursday, 10 a.m. to noon; recipients may come only once a week.
What they need: Volunteers and donations of food and money.
For more information: Paul D’Arcy, 982-5397
1511 Fifth Street
Santa Fe, NM 87505
What they offer: Sack lunches to the homeless, Mondays 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.; Wednesdays and Thursdays 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Boxes of groceries, Mondays 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.; Wednesdays and Thursdays 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
What they need: Food donations, money (even small amounts go a long way), clothing and household items. Volunteers are needed to help pack lunch bags and food boxes, especially Wednesdays and Thursdays.
For more information: Susan Tarver, 986-0583.
Food for Santa Fe
1222 Siler Road
Santa Fe, NM 87507
What they offer: Bags of groceries and kids’ snacks, Thursdays 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. or until supplies run out. No forms to fill out; no questions asked. Drive-thru is at the rear left of the front building.
What they need: Donations of food, especially 18 oz. jars of peanut butter, and paper grocery sacks. Volunteers are needed Wednesdays beginning at 6 a.m. to fill bags with nonperishables, and on Thursdays at 6 a.m. to add perishable produce and distribute bags.
For more information: firstname.lastname@example.org, www.foodforsantafe.org
525 W. Alameda
Santa Fe, NM 87501
What they offer: Breakfast Monday through Friday at 8 a.m.; dinner Monday through Friday at 5 p.m.
What they need: Food, clothing (especially children’s), household items.
For more information: Miguel Gallegos or Lt. Joseph Cisneros, 988-8054
St. John’s Lunch Kitchen
1301 Osage Avenue
Santa Fe, NM 87505
What they offer: Lunch is served Monday, Tuesday and Thursday at 11:30 a.m.
What they need: Sliced lunchmeat, bags of chips, cases of bottled water and cups of applesauce, fruit or pudding.
For more information: Deacon Jerry Reynolds, 983-5034 ext. 5.
- compiled by Nina Bunker Ruiz
Prayer Circle - Click to Enlarge
It was a cold and windy morning in December. It was trying to snow, and I shivered in my long wool coat as I walked up to the door at St. John’s lunch kitchen, not knowing what to expect. I have seen homeless people pushing shopping carts with all their worldly belongings. I have stepped around them while they slept curled up in a doorway of a building. I have seen them standing on street corners in their tattered clothing holding signs saying they would work for food. I would look away because they made me feel sad and uncomfortable. But on that morning, I was standing in their midst.
A few weeks before, I had attended a “BeFriender Ministry” in Albuquerque, which teaches active listening and support techniques for people to use in their church and personal life. One of the other participants, Father Nathan Libaire, told me he was the parish priest for St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Santa Fe and invited me to see their lunch kitchen. Father Nathan is a man with a gregarious personality and an evident love for people — all people. So although I am not Catholic, and had never worked with homeless people, I drove to Santa Fe on that chilly December morning with my husband, Richard, to check it out.
As we arrived we were greeted by Father Nathan and the Monday morning team, which was busy preparing sandwiches. We were immediately welcomed and put to work. There didn’t seem to be a boss; everyone just knew what needed to be done, preparing sandwiches in an assembly line, stuffing plastic bags with chips, folding the lunch bags after they were filled. Most of the other volunteers were St. John’s Church members, but no one was proprietary about their job or acted as if we were outsiders in “their” church. They just told us what was needed and we rolled up our sleeves and got to work. It was truly a joyous occasion in that kitchen.
In the short time between when we finished and when the guests arrived, we sat at their tables and drank hot coffee. Willie had brought doughnuts for the team. Andy and Richard talked football. We were joined by Deacon Jerry Reynolds, a warm-hearted man who takes caring seriously, and who leads the Caring Ministries at St. John’s. Soon the first guest arrived and then the next and the next. Each one took a bagged lunch, a drink and a bowl of steaming chicken and rice soup, chockfull of peas and carrots, made by Father Nathan and his mother. I positioned myself by the soup pot to help anyone who needed assistance getting to the table and then went around the tables offering crackers.
On any given Monday, Tuesday or Thursday, approximately 60 guests arrive for lunch. I don’t know where they all come from or where they live. What I do know is that I have never seen people so polite, grateful and gracious. One of the team recognized one of the guests on that Monday morning and went up to greet him. The man had owned his own restaurant in Santa Fe for many years but it had recently gone out of business and he was now in line to get food. A couple came in with a teenage girl, an infant and a little boy around 6 years old, who had the saddest face I’ve ever seen. I cannot get that precious little face out of my mind.
Even after the weather warms, the homeless will be coming to St. John’s Lunch Kitchen and other places that offer a meal. There is truly no season for homelessness. Years ago, when I was studying to be a social worker, I learned that the average American would have only three months after losing their job because of a layoff or illness before they would deplete their savings or max their credit cards and lose their home. We are all closer to homelessness than we think, especially in this economy.
I returned to St. John’s Lunch Kitchen to volunteer with my husband, and we will go back again this winter. Each time we leave we walk away feeling that we have helped provided nourishment to those in need and that we made a difference in someone’s day — and we count our blessings.
Gloria Fournier Valdez lives in Albuquerque with her husband Richard.
The active presence of grandparents in the lives of their grandchildren is as old as humankind, but today in New Mexico and across the country, increasing numbers of grandparents have primary responsibility for grandchildren who live in their homes.
To support these families, Las Cumbres Community Services hosts its second annual conference, “Otra Vez: Grandparents Raising Grandchildren,” Friday October 25 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., at Northern New Mexico College in Española. The conference is open to grandparents and other relatives raising a child, as well as professionals who work with families.
Over 25,000 grandparents throughout New Mexico are responsible for meeting the basic needs of live-in grandchildren. In Rio Arriba County, a whopping 60 percent of children under age 6 are under their grandparents’ care. Nationally, 2.7 million grandparents are responsible for children under age 18 who live in their homes.
The sacrifices and challenges these second-time-around caregivers face can be enormous. Many of the children are grieving the absence of their parent due to death, incarceration, mental illness or other traumatic circumstances that placed the child in the grandparents’ care. Many of the grandparents live below the poverty level, and many struggle with their own emotional concerns, health issues, isolation, and challenges in finding resources long after their own children left home.
Of course, the active involvement of grandparents in their grandchildren’s lives has many valuable aspects as well.
“These grandparents are instilling the traditional cultures rooted in values for respect for family and the customs of northern New Mexico,” says Delfinia Romero, Las Cumbres’ Director of Family Educational Services. “Grandparents are providing safety and security for their grandchildren who might otherwise land in foster care.
Conference workshops and group discussions will focus on self-care, advocacy, and issues grandparents face in legal and educational systems. The keynote speaker will be Gloria Zamora, author of “Sweet Nata: Growing Up in Rural New Mexico.” She will speak about the valuable influence of her parents, grandparents, and other extended family members when she was growing up in Mora and Corrales, New Mexico.
For more information on the Otra Vez conference and to register, call 505-753-4123, or register online: www.lascumbres-nm.org.
When my son Ariel was in preschool we had a bedtime ritual called Favorite and Least.
Bedtime was an elaborate affair back then (particularly when it was my night; I was a softer touch than Charles on the matter of lights out). Ariel would arrange and rearrange his stuffed animals at the head of his bed, giving prime placement to the current favorites, before sliding himself under the covers in the small space he had left for himself. I’d sit on the edge of the bed beside the menagerie and read a story, maybe sing a little song, and then I’d ask: “What was your favorite part of the day?”
Our little boy would scrunch his nose and look off for a few seconds until a memory jumped out. These were simple moments, because he was a small child, and that is the nature of special times. It might have been building a fort with Lincoln Logs, or playing with his cat Rex or his friend Jeffrey, or eating French fries with me at the old Woolworth’s downtown.
“And what was your least favorite?” I’d ask, to which he’d reply, as if he hadn’t asked this many times before, “What does ‘least’ mean?” This, too, was part of the ritual. He knew that the more we talked, the longer it would be until I turned out the light and left his room.
Stretching out bedtime was, no doubt, Ariel’s favorite part of Favorite and Least. For me it was about taking a pause at the end of the day to note the moments we particularly appreciated, and those we wished had gone differently. I suppose it was a subtle form of bedtime prayer.
Eventually our bedtime ritual fell by the wayside. Before long Ariel was reading Goosebumps
to himself before bed, and then Brian Jacques’ Redwall
series, before he fell asleep. The journey to sleep no longer required a lengthy side-by-side trek.
I hadn’t thought about Favorite and Least for years until early in the summer when Jone Hallmark suggested homemade books as her Kids’ Page project for this issue. She proposed calling these “smile books,” with instructions for a child tell his parent something that made him smile that day, which the parent would then
write in the book. (We decided to keep the book open-ended, for you to use as you wish, but her idea roused a few old memories.)
Ariel is 24 now, in grad school down in Albuquerque. I asked him recently if he remembered Favorite and Least.
“No, I don’t remember that particular game” — as he called it — “but I vividly remember the game of trying to keep you from leaving the room. I even have a mental picture of it. I was in my old bedroom, in my old bed with like 20 million stuffed animals around me, seeing you in the doorway about to turn off the light and trying to think of ways to keep you from leaving the room.”
I laughed, remembering some of his delay tactics. One of his most effective was saying in a plaintive voice, “I’m worried about ‘ever.’” This was his version of the word “forever,” a word he had heard in the context of the afterlife, and the concept scared him. No matter how much fun he might experience in the Hereafter, the thought of doing it forever gave him the whim-whams.
“Plus you knew it was a good Mommy-hook,” I chided him, “because you knew I wasn’t the type of mom to say ‘Look kid, we’re all gonna die. Go to sleep!’”
He laughed. “I guess Favorite and Least was a little like a prayer,” he said, “because it was a way of saying ‘thanks,’ and ‘it was worth it.’” Putting a little spotlight on our best parts of the day makes the hard or boring parts seem valuable, too, he explained.
Articles in this issue will no doubt invite you to be more attuned to your own Favorites and Leasts. Victor LaCerva, co-founder of the New Mexico Men’s Wellness movement, invites dads to direct their awareness and make deliberate commitments to their children (His article, “The Journey to Conscious Fathering,” page 24, elicited the most conversation among Tumbleweeds’
editorial team, particularly about whether his suggestions really are unique to fathers. My personal opinion is that they are not irrelevant to moms, but that they have a special resonance for dads — not only because our relationships to our children are indeed different, but also because the parenting conversation is still framed largely by women for other women. I am glad to provide room here in Tumbleweeds
to expand the conversation.)
If you walk or ride bikes to school with your children tomorrow (see Anna Philpot’s article “Fancy Footwork,” page 12, about Eldorado Elementary School’s “Walking School Bus”), I bet you will have material for Favorites.
Eileen Richardson, a new Tumbleweeds
contributor, draws on her experiences as a step-, adoptive and biological mom to help other parents facing exceptional challenges (“Building the Team,” page 26). Her work, as a Family Support Coach, focuses on helping parents turn Leasts into Favorites.
Will McDonald’s article (“Awakening Wonder,” page 14) reminds us all, whether or not we still have school-aged children, of the role we can have in the community’s “big project of education.”
A few nights ago, I asked Charles before we fell asleep what his Favorite and Least were that day. His Least was cleaning the cat’s throw-up off the bedroom floor. He had two Favorites. One was walking home with me that evening in a warm summer rain from dinner at the house of our friends around the corner, taking off his shirt and draping it over my head (then urging me to walk faster because he was freezing!).
The other was watching me at the kitchen table, after we got home, making sculptures with the fingerling potatoes and cherry tomatoes that he brought in from the garden, seeing how many I could balance on top of one another.
Remembering that seemingly forgetable moment of stacking the tomatoes and potatoes made me smile. Picturing him watching me so attentively and storing it away in memory made me feel loved.
Never in a million years would I have guessed that these were his favorite parts of the day, but that’s kind of the point of Favorite and Least. Most days, our best and worst moments aren’t life-changers. They’re the little points of ordinariness that somehow catch our attention, like butterflies dancing in the air in front of us before they fly off.
A nighttime ritual of noticing and sharing our especially good and bad moments can be a reassuring point of reference at the end of the day.
And if you feel inclined to write some of yours down and send them to Tumbleweeds,
you know we’ll be interested!
Today, August 1, marks the beginning of World Breastfeeding Week 2013!
Now in its 23rd year, World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated annually in at least 120 countries across the globe between August 1 and 7. Each year the event has a different theme; this year’s is “Breastfeeding Support: Close to Mothers,” highlighting the importance of peer-counselor support. Peer counselors are women with successful breastfeeding experience and training who support new mothers with breastfeeding.
Here are some of the World Breastfeeding Week events for northern New Mexico:
In Santa Fe
, a family-friendly World Breastfeeding Week event will be held at the Children’s Museum from noon to 5 p.m. on August 2 with information booths, refreshments, games and prizes. For more information, contact Laura at 505-476-2649. Espanola WIC
will celebrate at Plaza de Espanola, August 2nd, 1-4 pm. Friday afternoon health fair and picnic for breastfeeding moms, their families, and anybody interested. Information-booths with health care professionals and services in the area; guest speakers, discussion groups about breast-feeding issues, film-viewing, music, raffle for great prizes, fun activities for the whole family.Albuquerque has
a breastfeeding related event happening nearly every day throughout the week and we'd welcome anyone to come by!
- UNM Hospital: Join the UNMH Lactation Department for cupcakes and breastfeeding information in the 2nd floor cafeteria area in the main hospital, August 7 from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm.
- Inspired Birth and Families: On August 3, Inspired Birth and Families will be hosting the Big Latch from 10-11am at 3916B Carlisle NE, joining women across the world to break the world record for most women breastfeeding simultaneously.
- Dar a Luz Birth & Health Center: On August 2 at 6 p.m., we're shoging an advance screening of the documentary film BREASTMILK, promoted by the makers of The Business of Being Born. See a trailer for the film here: http://breastmilkthemovie.com/. Tickets are $10) and proceeds benefit the educational and breastfeeding programs in non-profit birth center. We'll show a matinee of the same film on August 4 at 2 p.m. There will be door prizes, a silent auction, movie concessions, etc.
throughout the state are hosting World Breastfeeding Week receptions and other events this week; contact your local office for details.
World Breastfeeding Week was birthed back in 1992, through the efforts of World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) to generate public awareness and support for breastfeeding. WABA’s mission is based on the Innocenti Declaration, adopted at the WHO/UNICEF policy makers meeting on “Breastfeeding in the 90s: A Global Initiative” in Florence, Italy in the summer of 1990, to support efforts to increase women’s confidence in their ability to breastfeed and to identify and eliminate obstacles to breastfeeding within the health system, the workplace and the community.
Once a hospital adopts the 10 steps advocated by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action, it can be designated as “Baby Friendly.” More than 15,000 facilities in 134 countries have been awarded Baby-Friendly status. In areas where hospitals have earned this designation, more mothers are breastfeeding their infants, and child health has improved.
Currently, however, there are no
Baby-Friendly hospitals in New Mexico. Through a grant received by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the New Mexico Breastfeeding Task Force is working to improve maternity care services across the state. At present, there are nine New Mexico hospitals on the path to Baby-Friendly status, and we hope there will be more in the future. This past year, Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center in Santa Fe recently won the Task Force’s “Ban the Bag” award, meaning they no longer give out hospital discharge bags with formula to postpartum moms. Giving out free formula samples has been found not only to discourage a mother’s choice to begin breastfeeding but also to negatively affect breastfeeding duration and exclusivity.
For more details on global efforts to promote breastfeeding, visit The World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action website www.waba.org.my/
, and to learn more about what is happening locally, visit The New Mexico Breastfeeding Taskforce website at www.breastfeedingnewmexico.org
. Aimee Putnam is a mother of two children, co-chair of the Santa Fe Chapter of The New Mexico Breastfeeding Task Force, and an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant working through the Birthing Tree Cooperative’s Breastfeeding Support Program.
Do you remember the anticipation you felt starting a new school year? For some of us, kindergarten meant a Big Chief Tablet, freshly sharpened pencils, Crayola crayons, watercolors, and black and white saddle shoes.
The school supplies, and shoe styles, may have changed but not the pride and excitement in new supplies and clothes for that first day of school. Unfortunately, not all families can afford all the things children need to start the new school year on the right foot.
The Villa Therese Catholic Clinic, Rotary Club of Santa Fe del Sur and US Bank are partnering to help Santa Fe families in need.
For 17 years, the Villa Therese Catholic Clinic’s “Pack-to-School” program has helped Santa Fe-area families start the year with the necessary school supplies. With community contributions, they purchase new school supplies, a backpack and a gift certificate for clothes at J.C. Penny for approximately 150 students in grades K through 8. The average cost is $100 per student (students in upper grades require more supplies, while elementary students need less). The Rotary Club of Santa Fe del Sur “Shoes for Kids” program provides two pairs of shoes and a pair of socks for as many children as funds allow.
Here’s how you can help:
- Send a check made out to Villa Therese Catholic Clinic to: Villa Therese Catholic Clinic, 219 Cathedral Place, Santa Fe, NM 87501. Indicate that it is a donation for the Pack-to-School program. Donations are tax-deductible. Sponsor one child, a portion of the cost for one child, a family with three children, or a classroom. Donations of any amount will be appreciated.
- Or, go to any of the three USBank branches in Santa Fe (201 Washington Avenue, 600 San Mateo, or 3787 Cerrillos Road) and purchase raffle tickets for $1 each. Prizes include a night's stay at Buffalo Thunder; two rounds of golf and a cart from The Santa Fe Country Club; gas cards from Brewer Oil; a gift basket from Madre Soaps; or gift certificates from The Christmas Shop and Thunderbird on the Plaza, with more gifts coming in every day! USBank will match all funds collected for raffle tickets and will divide the proceeds between Pack to School and Shoes for Kids. The drawing will be held in July (date to be determined), and you don’t need to be present to win.
If you have any questions or need more information, please contact the clinic at 983-8561 or email@example.com
. Thank you on behalf of all the students!Elaine Rivera and Teresa Sosinski are co-chairs of the Villa Therese Clinic Pack-To-School program.
| || |
Spring-cleaning, like morning sickness, can be a bit of a misnomer. Sometimes these urges follow an agenda of their own, oblivious to the hour or season.
Charles and I went on a housecleaning rampage recently after a winter more of the spirit than of the calendar. The long, dark season of discontent struck unexpectedly. Life seemed to be going smoothly.
Our son is back in the country after years away, happily absorbed in graduate school at UNM. We’re all in good health, with no great financial pressure. Perhaps this outward stability teased the demons down from the rafters. Old tensions led to fights that led to silences that drove us into therapy.
“Face it,” our couples therapist snarked at the end of a session, several months in. “The relationship as you’ve known it is over.” I’m guessing they didn’t teach hand-holding in his psych school, or he failed that class. I’d swear I actually saw him make a tiny gesture of a cross, as if administering last rites.
But it wasn’t the marriage whose death he was anointing. It was this chapter of our lives whose passage he saw us resisting: our salad years of starting a family, making a home, shaping our careers.
And what a lush and verdant phase it was, magical years of creation and re-creation: having a child, saving clips from his first haircut, buying a tiny house that we expanded and adapted, practicing spelling words with him, beaming through music recitals, raising chickens and snakes, shaping our boy’s youth while healing wounds from our own.
“Empty nest” and “midlife crisis” are tired clichés, until they ring true. When we have a small family, as so many of us now do, the family-centered years can end abruptly. We also tend to live longer than previous generations. This calls on us to create new chapters of our lives if we’re not to grow stale, or grow apart.
Neither of my grandmothers was conversant with empty nesting. Both married in their teens and had a houseful of children by the time they turned 20. My father’s mother had her last child after Dad moved out at 19, and by the time her last children were on their own she was already a grandmother. My mother’s mother had several grandchildren by the time she was my age. These women lived their entire adult lives in relation to children.
Charles and I had our one child when we were 30. That little bird fledged early, first on a high-school study-abroad program, then to college, a year in Spain and a year in Germany. Even now that he has flown back to New Mexico, we just see him for occasional weekends and celebrations. “Grand-birds” aren’t part of the conversation yet.
I thought we had adjusted by now to this extra space in the nest, but Charles and I went through this transition — much like the transition into parenthood 25 years ago — on a different timeframe. Motherhood began changing me as soon as my body experienced the first signs of pregnancy. Fatherhood transformed Charles utterly but more gradually, since he didn’t carry and feed a child with his own body.
Likewise this period of unwinding from the day-to-day intensity of childrearing hit us differently. Ariel’s departure to college several years ago left me dopey and unmoored, even as I began enjoying the emotional space opened up by his departure. Empty nest hit Charles in slow motion, ultimately colliding with that other too-real cliché: midlife crisis. He took an unscheduled (and unannounced) hiatus from work. We swung from raging tempests to icy silences. We entered therapy. We slogged. We slogged. We slogged.
And so we found ourselves one Sunday morning, unexpectedly, on a spring-cleaning bender. I can’t say what made it strike that particular day, that morning. Perhaps all the internal de-cluttering we’d done in therapy and our journals created an urge for external order. Who knows? But it was the beginning of the thaw.
Ground zero was the laundry room, the geographic center of our house, a little room that over the years became the dumping ground not just for dirty laundry but stacks of all manner of things acquired and forgotten, things unused, outdated, broken or that no longer fit. (We could put quotes around any word in this paragraph and talk about it in therapy.)
Out went mismatched candleholders, partial sets of dishes, past-dated vitamins, dried-up markers, skirts I’ll never get around to shortening, appliances someone else may actually use. Out went memorabilia no longer attached to actual memories. By the time we finished the room had somehow disgorged more than half its contents but didn’t feel barren. It felt spacious. It felt clean, open, ready for a new chapter, new possibilities.
Most of you reading this are probably deep in the phase of shaping your family life, and I urge you to savor it, as I’m sure you do. You will find much in this issue to keep your family engaged this summer.
Outdoor-educator Griet Laga suggests ways to develop a sense of love, wonder and delight for nature (page 12 in English; 18 en español).
Santa Fe County Fair is coming in August, and you’ll meet a family that is showing chickens, rabbits, sheep, horses and goats, the culmination of a yearlong effort through their local 4-H Club (page 10).
Expand your appreciation for the technologies and tools that enable discovery and imagination, at any of several museums in Santa Fe, Los Alamos and Albuquerque on a journey of “Techno-Tourism” (page 14).
If you’re new to town or want a refresher on summer hot spots, see our guide to Pools, Parks, Preserves & More (page 20).
Our Summer Calendar of Family Events and Directory of Summer Camps and Programs are fatter than ever, a sign of the robust strength of Santa Fe organizations for children and families.
Keep Tumbleweeds with you in this chapter of your family’s life, and keep in touch!
Remember Corduroy, the little bear in green overalls in the children’s book who waited patiently in the toy section of a department store for someone to pick him out and take him home?
The Corduroy in this real-life story lived in the Toy Lending Center at the Santa Fe Community College until it closed in December. For over 20 years, this lending library served parents and caregivers with 2000 toys for babies through 8-year-olds — blocks, games, puzzles, dramatic play and dress-up items, dolls, puppets, counting toys, Legos and more — to borrow, absolutely free, for up to a month. When the child outgrew or got tired of the toy, Mom or Dad could go back to the center for one better suited to the child’s developing abilities and interests.
The Toy Lending Center had its home at the community college, but it was funded through a contract from the New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department’s Training and Technical Assistance Program — otherwise known as TTAP. Eight TTAP programs across the state provided parents, teachers and early childhood caregivers with a variety of programs, including toy libraries, and services prioritized by the local communities.
In June 2012, CYFD restructured its statewide TTAP network and consolidated the eight programs across New Mexico into four. The Santa Fe and Farmington TTAPs were absorbed into “UNM Northern,” based in Taos. At the same time, CYFD removed toy lending centers from the scope of work covered under the TTAP contract. This meant that each of the eight statewide toy lending libraries had to find a new funding source or shut down.
In effect, Santa Fe’s toy lending center became the orphan child of the community college — on its premises but not funded — at a time when college enrollment was sky high and space more precious than ever.
“We were very encouraged at first by the college’s commitment to preserving the Toy Lending Center,” said Leigh Fernandez, program manager of Santa Fe’s TTAP for 10 years, now under contract with UNM Northern. But in late summer she received word from college administrators giving just a few weeks’ notice to shut the toy center so the Continuing Education department could move into its space. What was a little bear in green overalls to do?
At that point the Brindle Foundation, a family philanthropic foundation focusing on early childhood, stepped in with a small grant allowing the center to operate through the year, in hopes that a long-term funding arrangement could be reached by then.
“We’re about babies,” said Kim Straus, manager of the Brindle Foundation, “That’s what our focus is.” Brindle’s close relationship to the college’s early childhood program has included a $35,000 grant for childcare scholarships to college students so they could finish their degree. Last spring it sponsored an “appreciative inquiry summit” to bring vested interests together to consider how the college could become a center of excellence in early childhood education. “My partner and I have an 8-year-old,” Straus added, “and when our son was young we were there all the time!”
The nature of the Toy Lending Center aroused similarly passionate feelings among others those who passed through. “We watched children grow up there,” Fernandez said. “We may have called it a library, but it was an interactive library. Children could play with toys before they took them home. Parents could check out toys for four weeks, with an option to renew, but many came in every week because it was their child’s favorite time of the week.” Children grow through toys so quickly that the expense of replacing them challenges many parents. Access to high-quality toys at the lending center allowed parents to replace toys as soon as their child was ready to progress to a new one.
Then there was what I call the “stealth parent education” component. For most of its history, the center was staffed by a child development specialist who could answer parents’ questions and guide them to toys suitable for their child’s age and developmental stage, while providing a compassionate, knowing ear.
“I would say our fastest-growing audience in the past few years was grandparents,” Fernandez said, noting Santa Fe’s many retirees have grandchildren who live in town or come for visits. She saw many of these grandparents come in before each visit, stocking up on toys and games for the little ones.
I couldn’t get a figure for the program’s operating budget, since it fell under the broader scope of the TTAP contract. Fernandez said they devoted at least $1000 a year to replenishing and refurbishing toys. When more money became available, perhaps because of a temporary staff vacancy, they would move more money into the budget for higher-priced equipment.
Straus drafted a letter in November to Dr. Ana Guzmán, the community college’s new president, on behalf of a group of advocates including representatives from SFCC, New Mexico Highlands University and the Community Development Institute, asking her to visit the center and observe its value before considering closure. The team of cosigners requested a meeting with Guzmán to discuss “how we can preserve this incredible community resource at Santa Fe Community College.”
They got no response. At the end of November Fernandez was informed that the toy center would need to be out when the Brindle grant expired. On December 10, not with a bang but a whimper, the center closed.
And what of Cordoruy and his fellow orphans?
The majority of the toys have absorbed into the classrooms and resource library of Kids Campus, the college’s childcare center for infants to pre-K — “with the hopeful intent of getting it going again,” Fernandez said. Some went to early childhood programs in the community and other toy lending libraries, and a few to the center’s regular clients. Some were boxed up and put in storage for a short time, “but that just didn’t feel right,” she said. “They need to be used.”
The sad thing is, if the decision to close the Toy Lending Center was strictly financial, the Community College did not exhaust the possibilities for keeping it open. “We had provided the physical location but none of the operational money,” said Janet Wise, the college’s executive director of marketing and public relations. “And when CYFD stopped the funding — well, unfortunately we can’t keep things going if there’s no funding.”
Yet Brindle’s readiness was perhaps a stone unturned. “If the college had been willing to embrace the toy center, I’m sure we would have given them money to run it,” said Straus. “We certainly were supportive of the toy lending library continuing at the college, but they didn’t see it that way.”
“It wasn’t just, ‘Oh, let’s go in and get a toy,’” Fernandez said. “It was a much richer experience than that, by the quality of the materials we had. It broke my heart. I hope it’s not the end of the story.”
And perhaps it isn’t. With so many of the toys still available, and Brindle likely to put up some chunk of the operating budget, we may not have seen the last of the toy library — particularly if the community expresses a desire for its return. Add your voice. Write us at firstname.lastname@example.org with any memories or wishes of your own for the future of the Toy Lending Center.
As a child of the 80s, raised on technology, I imagine that it can be overwhelming for today’s parents to teach their kids about Internet and social media safety. It’s intuitive to assume that parents are the ones who teach their children how to perform new skills and make use of tools, but technology has turned that idea on its head. I grew up with technology that my parents couldn’t begin to understand, and oftentimes they didn’t know what else to do but trust me to do the “right” thing with it. For this article I have thought about the things that might have helped my parents guide me, even when “technically” I was much more savvy.
Online safety is no longer only a matter of strict browsing controls. Yes, it’s advisable for parents to seek filtering software that blocks adult content and viruses. However, even the best filters can’t stop certain inappropriate sites from surfacing, as the content may not yet have been “flagged” as inappropriate. There are also no filters smart enough to block inappropriate interactions between your kids and their social media contacts. Because of this, it becomes imperative to keep an open conversation with your kids about online and social media safety.
Parents should give kids an idea of what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior online, starting from their guidelines for acceptable behavior in day-to-day life. Computer safety also requires us to discuss issues of privacy and reputation. This includes helping kids to understand what things should stay private, as they decide what information to share with their contacts.
Setting some basic (or not so basic) ground rules will allow you to stay informed about your kids’ online habits and help you provide guidance for their safety. Just as you wouldn’t allow your child to go to a mixed-age event without supervision, you should recognize social media and the Internet as a real-world means of communication that should also be moderated.
The following are some ideas to help you get started with setting your own ground-rules for Internet and social media use:
1. Know their online friends. If you know your kids’ friends at school, your role in their social media use shouldn’t be much different. You have a similar right and responsibility to know who your kids are “friending” and interacting with on social media sites. Make this an important part of your ground rules: you should have open access to their account so that you can browse through friends and make sure content they are sharing is appropriate.
2. Limit use. Designate times and limits for use, just as you would for TV and video games. Social media shouldn’t replace face-to-face interaction.
3. Pick a centralized location. Allow them use of a computer or tablet only in a shared space in your home, such as the family room or kitchen, as opposed to privately in their rooms. Kids are less likely to engage in risky behavior if you are in the room or might walk through at any moment.
4. Block pop-ups. Tell your child to block pop-up windows and to ask you when they’re unsure about online ads. Kids are more likely to click on a colorful button that says, “You’ve won $1,000 dollars, click here to redeem.” These announcements and pop-up windows usually lead to viruses or inappropriate websites.
5. Beware what you share. The issue of privacy online quickly becomes an issue of reputation. Advise your kids that with the widespread use of social media sites, our lives are being “recorded” online, and anything we say or post can easily be shared and copied. Parents should urge their children to think twice about what is appropriate to post in public platforms.
6. Don’t believe everything you see. Teach your kids that not everything they see online is true. A lot of information has not been verified, and many websites and blogs are filled with opinion presented as fact. The same principle applies to others’ identities; not everyone is who they say they are. The Internet brings new meaning to “Don’t talk to strangers,” and parents have a key role in identifying risky behavior.
If you are coming to social media new as an adult, or even to the Internet, you are not alone! There are countless resources online and locally that can help you keep your kids safe. Look for free computer literacy classes offered at the Santa Fe Public Library, or sign up for a beginner course at the Santa Fe Community College. As a good parent, your responsibility is to make an effort to get familiar with new communication technologies that affect your children.
Finally, remember to model proper technology etiquette. Be a good example for your kids! Don’t text and drive or check email — even at stoplights.
* Oh my god! Too much information! Do the right thing! What's a parent to do?!
Look for Mari's "Techie Corner" column in upcoming issues of Tumbleweeds, and please email email@example.com with questions you'd like her to address.
The Lightning Rug by Camryn Joshua
The notification I was hoping for arrived in early May: an email from the Council on International Relations and the Turkish Cultural Foundation (TCF) telling me I was one of three Santa Fe teachers selected to go to Turkey this past summer as a guest of the TCF. Happily, I began preparing with weeks of research for the two-week trip.
The Turkish Cultural Foundation put together three overlapping tours, each with about 25 teachers from all over the United States, including two other teachers from Santa Fe: Andria Liesse, a language arts teacher at Capshaw Middle School, and Tracy Akers, who teaches history at Santa Fe High School, and myself. I teach art in kindergarten through grade 6 at Atalaya Elementary School.
TCF’s aim was to give teachers the big-picture view of Turkey, past and present. We had an academic guide and were accompanied by two Turkish teachers. At each location we visited, we looked for inspiration we could bring back to our students and classes. As you can imagine, this was awe-inspiring!
Our phenomenal tour took us to as many natural, cultural and historic sites as could be fi t into two weeks. We saw the Hagia Sophia, the Spice Market, Islamic and Turkish Arts Museum, Topkapi Palace and the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, then went on to Gallipoli, Troy, Ephesus, Caravan Hostels in Konya, caves in Cappadocia and Museums in Ankara. We visited several artists in their workshops, strolled down streets and met with Turkish diplomats and representatives from NGOs.
My first productive inspiration of the trip turned out to be our visit to the nomadic rug workshop and market in Cappadocia. The basic design form of the rug, the multi-layering of the imagery and limited color palettes, made the perfect lesson for my students.
Back in my classroom, students viewed slides of Turkish rugs from different regions. We noted the similarities and differences, how each had a limited palette with a dark color, a light color and three or four middle colors. Another consistency was the mirror symmetry inherent in the design and surrounding borders, the central area and the medallion in the middle. We discussed the use of symbols in our lives. A single symbol can have different meaning to different people. Drawing on the white board, students took turns turning their favorite animal or activity into an abstracted symbolic shape.
While I read from a list of topics, the students drew images and wrote notes about their favorite things: animals, vegetables or sports. From this visual collection, students created secret symbols that could represent their favorite things. Everyone created a limited palette of six colors. Then, using both theme and palette for selection, they were matched up with two other students to form a group that would design a rug together.
Students used templates to create outer and inner borders and set up their rug design. They sketched their design onto large poster boards with wax crayons and oil pastels, which provided a resist when they added another layer in watercolor. During the creation of these posters, students learned about another culture and the art form of Turkish woven rugs. They studied and created their own symbols, learned how to develop a limited palette, and experimented with the effects of different media. They had the opportunity to collaborate and work as a team.
These completed rug design posters have been displayed around town at Atalaya Elementary School, in the Santa Fe Public Schools’ central office at 610 Alta Vista Street and other locations, and now throughout the winter print issue of Tumbleweeds, with more here on the Tumbleweeds website.
Nina Mastrangelo, an artist living with her family in Santa Fe, has taught art, media, architecture and science at Pre-K through graduate levels and served on many school committees and boards. This is her eighth year teaching elementary art in the Santa Fe Public Schools.