Editor's Note: this is the latest article in the Co-op Cares series that celebrates organizations doing good things in the communities served by the Southern Plains Co-op. Thanks to the Co-op for the sponsorship, and to these organizations for all they do.
Cornerstone Family and Youth is an important organization for the Carlyle area, providing programs for families that are accessible and often free.
“They provide programs for new moms, and it’s a way for new moms to get to know other new moms in the community, and for young children to start learning that socialization process at a very young age,” said Lauren Hume, the vice-chair of the Cornerstone Family and Youth board.
Children will enjoy activities that are planned for them, to go along with games and materials.
“We usually have a mother’s time, and we try to invite people like the public health nurse to talk about things of interest to young moms. It might be something on vaccinations or something on feeding your child or toilet training or helping your children sleep through the night,” said Hume.
After school promote art and physical activity, among other topics, and they have activities on days in which there isn’t school.
Families are typically very positive in the feedback they offer for Cornerstone Family and Youth.
A few of the programs do have a registration fee, but most are free. There might be a cost for a child to attend a summer camp.
“Sometimes there are families that can’t afford a low fee, so we do have things in place where we can help families out if they’re financially needing it for the programs,” said Hume.
The COVID-19 pandemic has kept Cornerstone Family and Youth from having in-person programs for more than a year. For a while, they tried some programs in people pre-registered for the time they would be there, allowing them to have two or three families together in a bubble.
But the restrictions that were in place for much of this year prevented that from happening as well.
“We’ve been making Make and Take kits, and these are things that … families can do with their children, like a Father’s Day card or a bird-watching Bingo, which is what we have ongoing right at the moment,” said Hume.
Those kits have proven to be very popular, with people trying to get them ahead of time. Cornerstone Family and Youth has been supplying 30-40 kits per week.
A girls group for teenage girls is a mentorship program with older girls.
“We do activities together as a group, and the girls have an older girl who is not a sister or a mother to look up to and talk about things,” said Hume. “It’s been a very successful program over the years, and this year we’ve had to go to Zoom for it. Hopefully in the future we will be able to go back to in-person programming.”
One thing that Cornerstone Family and Youth does not have is a designated location for its programs. They have made use of other spots in the community, such as the Carlyle Public Library. They are looking to eventually find a permanent home that would be suitable.
“We had reached the point where, pre-COVID, we had nearly outgrown the library,” said Hume. “We were having some days where we would have 40 or 50 children there. It was more than we could handle.”
Cornerstone Family and Youth has a dedicated group of volunteers and the board is a good group to work with, Hume said. They have worked hard to keep the programs going. They also have a full-time co-ordinator in Carli Wolbaum.