Parent-Child Center seeks endowment

MIDDLEBURY — Leaders of the Parent-Child Center of Addison County are saluting the organization’s 30th birthday with a $2 million fund-raising campaign to perpetually extend services to needy clients.
The local Parent-Child Center is widely considered Vermont’s model organization for giving young parents the counseling and support services they need to become independent and productive citizens.
The organization has been striving to shift some of its focus to preventative programs for young people before they run into catastrophic bills or decide to have families, but limited resources have prevented the PCC from taking the step. With that in mind, Parent-Child Center boosters are hoping to raise $2 million for an endowment fund that would allow the organization to expand services to youths before they make life-changing decisions. The money would also be used to help young families who may not currently fit the tight qualifications for state and federal assistance.
“What we want to do is boost services for non-categorical families,” said center Co-director Sue Harding. “We are hoping to use the endowment to help families who are falling through the cracks … We want to make sure that all families have access to these services, and are not denied because they don’t fit in the definition of who the state believes should be supported.”
Those cracks are getting even wider now, according to Harding, due to state and federal cuts. And those programs have ironically never been needed more than they are now, due to the sluggish economy, Harding noted.
“People are coming in (for help) at a time when funding streams are being cut, or are at best level-funded,” Harding said.
Interest from the $2 million endowment, according to Harding, could be used for such things as helping to make payments for some clients’ insurance, electric bills or rent.
“So many families are one car break-down away from being in trouble,” Harding said, noting that such bills can cause household debt and instability to snowball.
“If we can keep families out of trouble, shouldn’t that be our highest priority?” she said.
Parent-Child Center boosters hope the community shares that priority. In an effort chaired by longtime board member Woody Jackson, organizers will be casting a wide net for donations to reach the $2 million mark in three years. The group has already raised $250,000 toward its goal.
“I see it as charity in its best sense,” Jackson said of the Parent-Child Center. “It is not giving things away to people; it is training them to be productive citizens and good parents.”
Jackson is optimistic the center will reach its goal, in spite of the challenging economy. He harkened back to around 20 years ago when, in similar tight budgetary times, the Parent-Child Center successfully designed and built its expanded headquarters on Monroe Street in Middlebury.
“I believe strongly in this organization,” Jackson said. “It is an important cause.”
Anyone wishing to learn more about the capital campaign, or how to contribute, should contact the Parent-Child Center at 388-3171, or Jackson at wj@shoreham.net.

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