As it does every year, a Roseburg nonprofit agency that helps families raise children invited community members to hear about its accomplishments, especially its expanded presence this year in South County.
About 200 guests attended the Family Development Center’s annual “Share Your Heart” luncheon Wednesday at the Douglas County Fairgrounds.
The center, founded in 1984, has a main office on Jerrys Drive in Roseburg and has aspired for 14 years to open a satellite office to reach families to the south.
Thanks to state funds and foundation grants, the center was able to collaborate with the South Umpqua School District to open a satellite center at Myrtle Creek Elementary School in September.
Guest speaker Rick Burton, director of student services and special education for South Umpqua School District, told the group many students in his district need assistance and that the center intervenes early to help.
The South County center serves 24 children between 6 weeks old and 5 years old.
The state approved $100,000 to fund the center. The Lilja Family Fund contributed $30,000, and the Whipple Foundation Fund gave $40,000. Both contributions were made through the Oregon Community Foundation. The center also received two buses from an anonymous donor.
The center’s executive director, Charlene Stutes, said she hopes the satellite eventually will have its own location to serve more families.
“Over time, we hope to open a permanent location in South County,” she said.
The center has three teachers, including one who spends the day working with infants and their families at their homes. The two other teachers also visit homes to coach parents, but spend their mornings working with children in the classroom.
“We work on their ability to connect socially and appropriately,” Family Development Center teacher Jeff Retke said. “We try to provide opportunities to foster social relationships.”
The center worked with about 400 children last year and about 790 people came through the center’s doors for assistance, Stutes said.
There is currently a waiting list of about 100 children.
Stutes said it costs approximately $5,000 a year to assist a child and $7,500 to work with a family. The center relies on grants and donations.
“It truly takes a village to raise a child,” Stutes said.
The center’s board president, Joe Garcia, said the board’s immediate goals for the temporary site are to increase services to South County and work out the kinks along the way.
The board is also looking for more money to sustain the site.
“When you run a nonprofit, you are always concerned about funding,” Garcia said. “We believe firmly if folks keep investing in the program, then we will continue providing the support.”
• Reporter Jessica Prokop can be reached at 541-957-4209 and firstname.lastname@example.org.