New family resource center opens in Sahuarita, said to build bonds in families with young kids

Published: Sep. 28, 2023 at 11:16 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (13 News) - In Sahuarita, the new family resource center is open and ready for families, with programs to help build bonds and have good, old-fashioned fun.

Today’s opening at the Sahuarita Food Bank is the first of three resource centers we’ll be seeing in Pima County. The center was made possible thanks to a grant from First Things First, Arizona’s early childhood agency.

Lela Messick, the senior director of the resource center, noticed firsthand how much her community needed a place where parents could get the help they were looking for.

“Story time at the library was essentially it,” Messick said.

“When the library closed down, there was nowhere for parents to get access to resources or access to individuals who can get some advice or counsel, or even commiserate with them about their challenges and how difficult parenting can be.”

The center focuses on helping parents with children up to five years old.

Offering courses like how to be more supportive and even how to tackle parenthood during a divorce, the resource center aims to make a bond between child and parent as strong as possible.

“Really, the three first months of a child’s life is when you’re building attachments with the parent,” said Sophia Castro. Castro is the program manager at the Sahuarita Food Bank.

“So, if we start them off young, at 0 months, they’re already making these attachments with the parents so that later in life, they have more trust and a beautiful relationship as they get older.”

United Way, the organization spearheading the effort, has created numerous partnerships to offer parents any and all resources they may need.

Working with groups like Parent Aid and the University of Arizona’s Cooperative Extension, parents and kids have access to resources they didn’t think possible before.

“And each of those agencies,” said Messick, “has years of talent and skill in working with families and young children. Here at the United Way, we have the overview and the big picture, but those are the folks that are doing the work on the day-to-day.”

The next two resource centers are expected to open within six months, with locations at Robles Elementary and Los Ranchitos Elementary.

While the center focuses on families with young children, Lela hopes to expand services for more children and teens in the future.

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