FiveCAP’s annual garden workshop to be held on June 2

FiveCAP will hold its annual garden workshop on Tuesday, June 2.

In Mason County, the workshop will be held from 2 to 3 p.m. at FiveCAP’s Johnson Road warehouse, in Scottville.

In Manistee County, the workshop will be held from 11 a.m. to noon at the FiveCAP office located at 265 First St., in Manistee.

In Lake County, the workshop will be held from 11 a.m. to noon at the FiveCAP office located at 2476 West 44th St., in Baldwin.

In Newaygo County, the workshop will be held from 11 a.m. to noon at the FiveCAP office located at 434 North Evergreen Drive, in White Cloud.

The workshop will be led by a master gardener, and each attendee will receive a variety of vegetable plants to start their own garden.

“Growing your own food is an incredibly empowering experience,” said FiveCAP Community Support Director Amy Jalocha. “One of the most important components of the services we provide to the community is teaching the tools for self sufficiency, and learning to garden is a basic skill that enables people to provide for their families in a very basic way.

“Many of our clients are enrolled in food assistance programs, or receive food stamps. Their need puts them at the mercy of outside forces. In the last several years, we’ve seen drastic cuts to food stamps. With other programs, people receive the food they are given either at food pantries or through the provisions provided through our Commodity Supplemental Food Program or The Emergency Food Assistance Program. By growing a garden, our clients are able to claim control over what food they put on the table. They plant their food, tend it all season, harvest it, and finally feed it to their family.”

Each attendee of the workshop will receive the following plants: green beans, tomatoes, Roma tomatoes, green peppers, yellow summer squash, zucchini, cucumber, broccoli, cabbage and onions.

The master gardeners leading the workshops will provide advice about how to grow each of these plants, and provide tips on how to get the best harvest out of each. There will be time for questions, as well.

“The workshop is always helpful for new gardeners, as well as veterans who have been growing vegetables their whole lives,” Jalocha said. “The master gardeners have access to the most current research, so they are constantly teaching us new ways to get the most out of our gardens.”

The garden workshop will be followed by a food preservation workshop, which FiveCAP will hold in the fall. Being able to preserve the food families have grown all summer allows them to reap the benefits of their hard work well beyond the growing season.

For more information, or the sign up for the workshop, contact your local FiveCAP office:

Mason County: (231) 757-3785

Manistee County: (231) 723-8327

Lake County: (231) 745-4617

Newaygo County: (231) 689-6688

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A look at the 10 bills included in Proposal 1

Michigan voters will go to the polls next week to decide the fate of Proposal 1, the approval of which will result in the passage of 10 separate bills that will raise billions of dollars in new revenue.

The emotional selling points of the campaign for Proposal 1 play on people’s fear, asserting that dangerous roads could result in death and damages that can be avoided by simply passing this bill. Those who are against Proposal 1 sound the rallying cry against any and all tax increases, and point out that the bills are not limited to roads, but also include funding for schools and tax credits for low-income families. Politics being what they are, the truth lies somewhere in the middle when the bills are all deconstructed, and it’s important to know what you’re voting for.

One thing remains: The crumbling infrastructure of Michigan roads requires attention, and that requires funding. The Michigan Legislature had the chance to approve a straightforward package that would have raised revenue for the roads, but failed to do so. Proposal 1 is the result of that failure, in which the Legislature is passing the responsibility off onto the voters. If the bill fails, the Legislature will be forced to readdress the issue, and is likely to do so not through tax increases, but instead by cutting spending on existing programs, which have already seen drastic cuts in in recent years.

Now, to look at the package of bills that are included in the proposal:

If passed, a pair of bills will change what you’re paying for each time you put gas in your car. One will eliminate the sales tax Michiganders currently pay for gas, and the other will replace it with a percentage-based fuel tax that will be increased each year by 5 cents per gallon or the rate of inflation, whichever is less.

All of the money raised through this fuel tax will go toward transportation, with 89 percent being used for roads and bridges, 9 percent being allocated to public transportation and 2 percent going toward improvement of waterways, snowmobile and off-road vehicle trails, with the reasoning that users are also contributing to the fuel tax every time they fill up their recreational vehicles.

The estimated revenue from this change is $1.3 billion. The funds would be distributed as follows: 39 percent for state highways, 39 percent to county roads and 22 percent to city streets.

One of the bills sets it up so that the bulk of revenue from the fuel tax would go to pay road debt for the first two years. Supporters of this portion reason that it is worth the interest saved to pay these bonds down quickly. This bill also includes points that would support small and disadvantaged businesses to help make them more competitive for state contracts, warranty and reporting requirements to hold contractors accountable for their work, funding for repairs where roads cross railroad tracks.

Another revenue-generating bill will raise registration fees across the board, as well as instituting a surcharge for electric vehicles.

New reporting and tracking requirements will be imposed by another of the bills in an attempt to encourage preventative maintenance on roads. This was included in hopes that the cost of repairs will be reduced in the long run by keeping roads maintained.

Also included in the package is a bill that allows township boards to require road commissions to call for competitive bids on projects that are at least 50 percent funded by the township. It also includes language that allows two or more townships to require bidding together when funding is coming from both, and allows road commissions to bid on the projects.

Two other bills will raise the sales tax and the use tax, making up one of the other main components of the package. The elimination of the sales tax on fuel would drastically reduce the revenue for the School Aid Fund, so the loss would be made up by increasing the sales and use taxes from their current 6 percent to 7 percent.

Another school-related bill included in the package would require schools to post information on their website about expense reimbursement policies, spending and policies about supplies, materials and equipment. This bill also allocates funding for school districts based on the number of children eligible for free breakfast or lunch.

The final bill in the package would restore the state Earned Income Tax Credit to 20 percent of the federal credit. Low-income families across the state took a hit in 2011 when the credit was reduced from 20 percent to 6 percent. The restoration of the credit is meant to offset the tax increase and registration hike, which will disproportionately affect low-income residents.

The language of the bill, as it will appear on the ballot, doesn’t provide much detail, especially considering the fate of 10 different bills will be decided by the vote. There is no way to be certain that by including warranties and encouraging preventative maintenance, the bills will have their desired effect. We can be certain, however, that the roads need attention, and the current state budget doesn’t include $1.3 billion to provide the necessary repairs.

We hope voters will go to the polls on May 5 armed with as much knowledge as can be gleaned, and make an informed decision based on what they believe is best for the future of the State of Michigan.

FiveCAP will distribute food to seniors Oct. 8

FiveCAP, Inc. will be distributing the Commodity Supplemental Food Program boxes to income-eligible senior citizens on Wednesday, Oct. 8.

This program is designed to supplement the diets of low-income seniors, 60 and older, a demographic that is often forced to make difficult choices when it comes to spending their fixed income. Good nutrition sometimes takes a backseat to other expenses like utilities and medications.

“Eating a balanced diet is important for everyone, but with the high incidence of heart problems and diabetes in seniors, good nutrition is essential,” said FiveCAP Executive Director Mary Trucks. “This program provides nutritious staples without sacrificing other essential budget items, and helps people stretch their food dollars much further.”

The boxes always include items such as canned fruits, vegetables and meat, cheese, pasta, beans and juice.

CSFP is open to seniors 60 and older whose household income is within 130 percent of poverty, which is $15,171 for a single-person household and increases by $5,278 for each additional person residing in the home. To apply for the program, seniors must provide 30 days proof of income, birthdates and social security numbers for everyone in the home and a valid photo ID.

Below are the times and locations for the Oct. 8 distribution.

MASON

Distribution will take place on Wednesday, Oct. 8 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at FiveCAP’s Johnson Road warehouse, in Scottville. For more information, call (231) 757-3785, or to apply stop by the Mason County office, located at 302 North Main St., in Scottville.

MANISTEE

Distribution will take place on Wednesday, Oct. 8 from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at FiveCAP’s Manistee County office, located at 265 First St., in Manistee. For more information, call (231) 723-8327, or stop by the office to apply.

LAKE

Distribution will take place on Wednesday, Oct. 8 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at FiveCAP’s Lake County office, located at 2476 West 44th St., in Baldwin. For more information, call (231) 745-4617, or stop by the office to apply.

NEWAYGO

Distribution will take place on Wednesday, Oct. 8 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at FiveCAP’s Newaygo County office, located at 434 North Evergreen Dr., in White Cloud. For more information, call (231) 689-6688, or stop by the office to apply.

Home Heating Credit deadline Sept. 30

With the Sept. 30 deadline approaching to file for the Michigan Home Heating Credit, community support workers at FiveCAP, Inc. are available to prepare the application, along with a tax return for income-eligible residents who have not yet filed.

An appointment is required for this service, and should be made as soon as possible to ensure the service can be provided before the deadline.

“As we prepare for another heat season, this is an important piece for many people who struggle to keep the heat on in their homes,” said FiveCAP Executive Director Mary Trucks. “This money offsets the cost of utilities and allows low-income residents to stretch their budget in other areas.”

FiveCAP offers free tax preparation services to low-income residents throughout the year. Many residents who qualify for tax credits aren’t required to fill out income tax returns, which results in missed opportunities.

“A lot of people think the April 15 deadline applies to all tax returns and credits, but it’s only applicable if you owe money back to the government,” Trucks said. “There is still time to claim the money the government owes you.

“Everyone should file a tax return,” she added. “There are a lot of people who don’t realize they could be getting money back every year, so when our community support workers prepare the application for the Home Heating Credit, they will also check to see if there are any other benefits available.”

To apply for the credit, residents must supply their 2013 income, as well as documentation of how much they spent on heating costs between Nov. 1, 2012 and Oct. 31, 2013.

For more information, or to schedule an appointment, call FiveCAP at (231) 757-3785.

Golfing for a good cause

Blue skies, white clouds and perfectly mild temperatures graced Manistee National Golf & Resort on Friday, Aug. 1 when golfers took to the links to support FiveCAP, Inc.’s 10th annual Golf for Warmth fundraiser.

The event featured a 9-hole scramble followed by a buffet lunch and live auction. A portion of all entry fees was donated to FiveCAP’s Walk for Warmth fund, which provides the agency with heat assistance safety net, enabling them to help families who don’t otherwise qualify for state or federal programs.

2014 golf winners

The Straight Fence Team of Aaron Haywood, Bob Haywood, Ben Radlinski and Linda Zimmerman took home first-place honors for FiveCAP’s 2014 Golf for Warmth fundraiser, which was held on Friday, Aug. 1 at Manistee National Golf & Resort.

“We can’t overstate the importance of this program and the service it allows us to provide,” said FiveCAP Executive Director Mary Trucks. “Families are still reeling financially from the hardship of heating their homes through this past winter. It was brutally cold and, in many places, we had record-breaking snow accumulations.

“Trying to stay warm through such intense weather is costly for everyone. When families are living in that in-between place, where they make too much to qualify for government programs, but not enough to be able to afford their gas bills, it’s not just uncomfortable, it’s scary and stressful. Walk for Warmth is truly a safety net for many of these families.”

Winter seemed far away rambling around Manistee National Friday afternoon, but the need that brings people to their office during the colder months is never far from FiveCAP staff member’s minds.

“No one is ready to think about summer ending yet, but it won’t be long before we’re taking applications for heat assistance again,” FiveCAP Community Support Director Holly Haywood said. “After last winter, restoring funds for Walk for Warmth is vitally important, so we’re incredibly thankful to everyone who came out to golf and purchased things at our auction.”

The event was sponsored by Little River Casino & Resort, which provided the grand prize of an overnight stay package for each member of the winning team. Taking home first-place honors was the Straight Fence Team of Aaron Haywood, Bob Haywood, Ben Radlinski and Linda Zimmerman.

The second place team of Clyde Williams, Gary Bailey, Fred Olson and Steve Magnusson each received certificates for a future round of golf at Manistee National Golf & Resort.

These teams were joined on the course by groups sponsored by Sunshine Home Improvement, Lake-Osceola State Bank, BDO, American Petroleum Institute, Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, a Newaygo County team that raised funds from neighbors and local supporters, and Big “K” Construction.

DTE Energy again donated a stainless steel grill for the raffle, which was won by Big “K” Construction owner Kenner McKie, who is a perennial supporter of the event, and in addition to sponsoring a team and a tee, also donated several of the auction items.

Auction table

Generous donations from several area businesses and individuals were auctioned off following golf and a buffet lunch.

Tee sponsors were Skoog Heating & Cooling, Custom Sheet Metal & Heating, Baldwin ACE Hardware, Sunshine Home Improvement, Fischer Tanks, Magee Insurance Group, The Dublin General Store, Lake-Osceola State Bank, Great Lakes Castings, and Big “K” Construction.

Watson’s Manistee Chrysler again sponsored a hole-in-one contest, and the 2014 Dodge Dart they offered as prize was parked by the tee on hole 9, tempting all who participated. However, it was returned to the dealership when no one managed to accomplish the feat.

“We’re so thankful to the individuals and businesses that donated items for our auction and also to those businesses that sponsored tees,” Trucks said. “It’s always so humbling to see the support we receive from the community.”

FiveCAP accepts donations to the Walk for Warmth fund year-round. For more information, or to make a donation, contact the agency at (231) 757-3785.

Check out our photo album from the event on Facebook.

‘It makes you feel good’: Lake County volunteers help FiveCAP provide assistance to people in need

One day, a friend convinced Sue Foster to accompany her to FiveCAP, where she volunteered for the Commodity Supplemental Food Program distribution. The Lake County resident has been volunteering for the agency ever since.

“I enjoy the food distribution and talking with all the people who come in,” Foster said. “It’s a nice group of people I work with and I’ve made friends with the people that come in and help.”

sue 001Foster still helps with the food distribution, but also assists with office operations.

“It’s something to do because before I was laid off from my job, I always worked in a factory,” she said. “Then we moved up here and it was something to do once or twice a week. With the office work, I enjoy when people come in and seeing if I can help them out.”

Volunteers like Foster help in the Lake County office by manning the reception desk, answering the phone, helping clients fill out paperwork, answering some of their questions and directing them to programs and services available to help.

“It’s good experience for anyone who wants to learn how to be a receptionist,” said FiveCAP Community Support Worker Dawn Summers. “One of our volunteers is retired from an office job, so she has a lot of experience and I’ve been able to train her on some of the basic computer work.”

At specific times during the year the agency also needs volunteers to help with annual events. During the annual garden and food preservation workshops, volunteers also help FiveCAP staff sort plants or canning and freezing supplies into individual packages that are given to workshop participants.

“For the garden workshop, they cut and pack up 200 sets of plants and with the food preservation workshop they will cut and pack up 200 sets of canning jars and freezer bags,” Summers said, noting that there are always a wide variety of tasks that the agency depends on volunteers to complete. “For each of our food distribution dates, they help us unload the delivery truck, sort and pack the food and distribute it to the clients.

In June alone, Lake County volunteers clocked nearly 180 hours helping FiveCAP operate its programs for low-income families.

“I couldn’t do my job without the volunteers,” Summers said.

Foster recalled being surprised when she first started volunteering at the number of programs available to low-income families in the community. She encourages other people to find ways to get involved and contribute to these causes.

“I’ve told other people that it might be something for them to do,” she said. “It makes you feel good.”

For more information, or to sign up as a volunteer for FiveCAP’s programs, stop by the Lake County office, located at 2476 West 44th St., in Baldwin, or call (231) 745-4617.

‘A great feeling’: Manistee volunteers help FiveCAP provide assistance to people in need

Carol Witucki enjoys “absolutely everything” about volunteering. Most afternoons, the Manistee County resident can be found at FiveCAP, Inc., helping out with office operations. She also contributes her time when the agency distributes food and hosts self-sufficiency workshops.

She came to the work after she was placed in other service agencies through the Experience Works program.

Manistee Carol 3“I worked … at DHS for a year and at LoveINC for three years, but you can only be in the program for four years so when my time was up, I retired,” Witucki said. “But I liked that kind of work, so I came over here and talked to (FiveCAP Community Support Worker) Julie (Ingison) and I’ve been here every day since.

“I enjoy the people, especially the people I work with. I enjoy going home at night knowing I helped somebody.”

Witucki has recommended volunteering to several people she knows and encourages people to get visit FiveCAP to learn about ways they can contribute. Ingison added that there are a variety of volunteer opportunities for everyone.

“We have a place for volunteers of all ages and abilities,” she said. “Some of our older volunteers can’t use a computer or can’t lift, but they can help clients fill out paperwork. We can always find something for volunteers to do.”

“We have several different things for people to do as volunteers. With food distribution, we need people to pack and carry out the boxes, and we need a lot of people to help unload the truck. Without these volunteers, we would not be able to distribute food on our own.”

Volunteers also help operate FiveCAP’s Manistee County office by manning the reception desk, answering the phone, helping clients fill out paperwork, answering some of their questions and directing them to programs and services available to help.

At specific times during the year the agency also needs volunteers to help with annual events. Each Christmas, the agency collects presents and distributes them to families in need through Toys for Tots/Gifts for Teens. Volunteers help sort and set up the toys and also assist the families as they “shop” for gifts on the day of distribution. During the annual garden and food preservation workshops, volunteers also help FiveCAP staff sort plants or canning and freezing supplies into individual packages that are given to workshop participants.

Manistee Carol 1“I could not do my job without the help of our volunteers,” Ingison said. “The value of their help is hard to put into words.”

Since the beginning of October, FiveCAP has had 64 volunteers contribute more than 1,250 hours during 20 different events, including Toys for Tots/Gifts for Teens, food distributions, workshop and the annual Walk for Warmth fundraiser.

“Some people think they don’t have time to volunteer,” Ingison said, adding there are other ways to contribute to FiveCAP’s programs. “Some people give of resources through pantry, toy and crocheted/knitted hat donations. These are just as valuable. We don’t get a lot of funds to cover our pantry so donations are always helpful. I have two gentlemen that come in every month and get a list of what our pantry needs and goes and purchase it. We call them our pantry angels (they have kept us from having to shut down our pantry all year). This year we exceeded last year’s pantries given back in June and the year is only half over.”

Volunteering can be an eye-opening experience. Witucki said people would be surprised at the number of people in need in the community.

“If you want to give back or put something in your life, it’s a good feeling,” she added. “It’s a great feeling.”

For more information, or to sign up as a volunteer for FiveCAP’s programs, stop by the Manistee County office, located at 265 First St., in Manistee, or call (231) 723-8327.

‘Glad to be a helper’

Mason County volunteers help FiveCAP provide assistance to people in need

At 85 years old, Fred Annand said he feels “great,” and has no desire to spend all his time at home, watching television. Since 2010, the Mason County resident has been volunteering for FiveCAP, Inc. and can often be found helping out at the agency’s food distribution programs.

“It gives me something to do,” Annand said. “I enjoy getting out and having some purpose in life. I enjoy meeting the people as I’m passing the food boxes out and it’s a nice group of people that I work with.”

DSCF2305

FiveCAP Community Support Director Holly Haywood presents a certificate of appreciation to Mason County volunteer Fred Annand for his dedication to the agency’s programs.

Annand is on hand for all of the programs that FiveCAP offers, including the annual self-sufficiency workshops and Toys for Tots/Gifts for Teens at Christmastime.

“I just enjoy the whole thing,” he added.

FiveCAP Community Support Director Holly Haywood said the contribution of volunteers like Annand is essential to the agency’s continued ability to provide services to low-income residents.

“We couldn’t do food distribution without them,” Haywood said, noting that FiveCAP’s service area encompasses four counties and each county has its own office and programs to operate. “We have one staff person for each county and give out more than 1,000 boxes for CSFP (Commodity Supplemental Food Program) and more than 1,500 for TEFAP (The Emergency Food Assistance Program) between all four counties. Without volunteers to unload, pack and distribute the supplies, we couldn’t have these programs.”

While Haywood said she can find a place for anyone who wants to contribute, in Mason County, volunteers are especially needed to help unload the semi that delivers the food for both of its distribution programs.

“We can use volunteers of every age and ability, always,” she said, “but we’re in particular need right now of a couple of people who can do a bit of lifting.”

At specific times during the year the agency also needs volunteers to help with annual events. Each Christmas, the agency collects presents and distributes them to families in need through Toys for Tots/Gifts for Teens. Volunteers help sort and set up the toys and also assist the families as they “shop” for gifts on the day of distribution. During the annual garden and food preservation workshops, volunteers also help FiveCAP staff sort plants or canning and freezing supplies into individual packages that are given to workshop participants.

Annand recommends volunteering to others, and has recruited old friends to join him and made new friends along the way.

“I’ve recommended it to different people,” he said of volunteering. “My neighbors, I talk to them every day and I recommended it to them and they are very involved now too. We pick up (another volunteer) and we all ride together to save on mileage.

“I feel I’m doing something constructive. When I work, I’m accomplishing something. I just think it’s a wonderful program and I’m glad to be a helper. I even ask Holly every once in a while if she has anything else for me to do.”

For more information, or to sign up as a volunteer for FiveCAP’s programs, stop by the Mason County office, located at 302 North Main St., in Scottville, or call (231) 757-3785.

Camaraderie built through helping others

Newaygo County volunteers help FiveCAP provide assistance to people in need

Thirty years ago, Judy North was a dedicated FiveCAP volunteer, but when she and her husband moved away from Newaygo County, she had to leave volunteering behind. After returning to the area, she was approached by FiveCAP Community Support Worker Lori Murphy, who asked if she’d consider contributing her time again.

North gladly agreed, and now logs hours every week in the agency’s White Cloud office.

Judy North Newaygo 3“I enjoy helping people,” she said. “My family’s been helped in the past, and we still get help because both my husband and I are retired.”

Volunteers play an important role in FiveCAP’s operations, with 17 individual volunteers logging 1,938 hours in the White Cloud office between Oct. 1, 2013 and July 16 of this year. They help with office operations, answering phones, helping clients fill out paperwork and answering some of the simpler questions.

“I have cheat sheets for them, so they become well-versed in everything they need to know and eventually they help answer questions,” Murphy said. “They even get asked the same questions out in the community that I do and are able to tell people where they can get the help they need. They’re like ambassadors out there.”

There is a wide variety of roles volunteers can fill, and Murphy said there are opportunities for people of all ages and abilities to contribute.

“For the workshops, we need help with the preparation and distribution of the garden and food preservation supplies,” she said. “With the food programs, volunteers unload the semi, pack the boxes and carry them out to clients’ cars. In the office, volunteers answer phones and take applications. They can’t approve anything, of course, but the more help they can provide with the paperwork, the more time I have to spend getting clients the help they need. It really expedites the services.”

Murphy said the experience of her volunteers ranges. One volunteer has been contributing their time for 20 years, while the newest member of the corps has only been with the agency for three months. The environment is welcoming, she added.

“On food days lunch is provided, potluck style, we all take turns,” she said. “The volunteers have become comrades, almost. When a new volunteer comes in, some of the ones who have been here for a while take them under their wings. It’s just amazing to see how many people can get together, and it doesn’t matter what their background is or how old they are or if they have a disability. They listen to each other.

“They have a lot of fun. If it’s fun, it’s not work. They’re just keeping their hands busy while they talk to each other. It’s rewarding for the volunteers themselves. They come from such unique groups, but they develop this teamwork and get to socialize with one another. They share stories from their lives, and we have all learned a lot of history from each other. It’s fun to sit back and listen.”

North said she’s counts the other volunteers as friends, and often encourages others to get involved with FiveCAP.

“If you have some extra time, help is always needed and the programs are good for the community,” she said. “The volunteers in the White Cloud office are very, very nice and personable people.”

Starting preschool doesn’t have to be a scary experience, for children or their parents

By LISA FISHER, FiveCAP Head Start Education/Disability Specialist

Another school year is about to begin, and we are excited to welcome a new group of 3- and 4-year-olds to Head Start. It’s always fun to see the now worldly 4-year-olds returning for their second year, no longer the shy toddlers they were just 12 months before. They are shining examples of the difference a year can make, and their presence can help reassure their younger schoolmates that school won’t always be so intimidating.

Sometimes, as adults, we need a bit of reassurance as well. Parents who are dropping their kids off for school are often nervous, and for many, the first day of school is also the first day they’ve ever spent an extended amount of time away from their kids.

We find ways to reassure both the children and their parents at the beginning of each school year.

Family involvement is one of the most important aspects of Head Start, and building these relationships starts early when teachers make their first home visit early in the year. This interaction not only introduces the student to the teacher in an environment where the child is comfortable, it also provides parents with the opportunity to interact with the teachers who will be partners in their child’s growth for the year.

For the teachers, this is a chance to see get to know the family as a whole. This is an important step, because the relationship between Head Start and the families it serves isn’t limited to the student currently enrolled in the program. Parents, as their child’s first teachers, are engaged in the preschool process.

Together, teachers and parents discuss each child individually, setting goals for progress. These goals will be revisited at parent teacher conferences throughout the year, and take into account each child’s strengths as well as the ways they are struggling to meet the demands that will be expected of them when they graduate from preschool and move on to kindergarten.

The goals of the family are also developed and shared.

The income guidelines for Head Start require a family be at or below the federal poverty level, which is only $15,730 for a two-person household, and increases by $4,060 for each additional family member. Living in poverty comes with its own set of demands, many of these extremely stressful. Our teachers are familiar with the community, and help parents by providing information referrals to services through FiveCAP and other agencies and organizations.

Many Head Start parents share stories of their own negative experiences in school, where they had difficulties or felt unsuccessful, so our teachers also help transform school into a positive for the children and their parents. Families are encouraged to volunteer in the classrooms, ride the buses and attend field trips with the kids, and are always welcomed as valuable members of the educational experience. Teachers interact with parents, hold them in the highest regard, and treat them with the respect they deserve. In this way, teachers help parents overcome their own inhibitions, and learn to value and support their child’s education.

Family literacy is one of the cornerstones of Head Start, and confidential services are provided to parent who can’t read, or simply struggle with literacy. Being able to read with your children isn’t just important for your child’s emerging literacy, it’s a bonding experience. It’s a way to create positive memories that will last a lifetime, so helping parents who are unable learn to read is so important.

We love being a part of our families’ lives, helping parents embrace their role as their child’s first teacher, and helping them build a foundation of support that will last throughout the rest of their child’s educational career.

We understand that sending a child to preschool can be nerve-wracking, but we promise to help ease the anxiety until the routines of school life become less scary and are simply the norm.

For more information on Head Start enrollment, contact FiveCAP at (231) 757-3785.