The origin of the proverb “It takes a village to raise a child” is unknown. It’s one of those sayings rooted deep in our culture. And while the phrase may sometimes be overused, the words speak a truth that spans centuries: No one should have to go it alone. Although perhaps devoid of traditional “villages,” there is still help in the Twin Cities for parents and caregivers needing support. In 1983, the Greater Minneapolis Crisis Nursery (GMCN) was formed as a resource for overwhelmed parents and caregivers, acting as a support system and, in turn, reducing the risk of child abuse or neglect.
“Our services are unique in that we are voluntary,” says GMCN annual giving manager Emily Burck, referring to the parents and caregivers coming to them for help. “We look at them as having a lot of courage. None of it is mandated. It’s up to them.” GMCN provides a 24-hour crisis line, crisis counseling, community referrals, parent education classes, a parent support group, a home visiting program and overnight care for children ages newborn to 6. Trained staff will meet with parents to work on goals and help them to build a support network. All of these services encompass a common goal, “so they can feel known somewhere,” Burck says.
Parents and caregivers seek the help of GMCN for varied reasons, including mental health concerns, hospitalization, working jobs with unpredictable hours, domestic violence or simply needing a break. “All of those reasons are good to call,” says housing problems manager Jenny Geris.
Sometimes the staff at GMCN encounter situations of abuse or neglect, but often times the services rendered are of a preventative nature. “We’re creating a nonjudgmental space,” says Burck. “It’s about meeting [people] where they are,” says Geris. Both Burck and Geris stress any parent can find themselves in a situation where they are in need of help—especially if they are lacking the resources that come with a steady income, a support network of family and friends or a reliable work schedule.
“There’s no parent that woke up today and thought, ‘I want to abuse my children,’” Geris says, recalling the wise words spoken by a co-worker. “It’s really important that your kids are safe. Important for parents to know they’re not alone.”
Client quotes from the GMCN website further illustrate the impact this organization has on the community. “Just having a place my child can go that he likes helps me out tremendously,” one says. Another describes the experience as, “Ensuring my son was safe and taken care of while I made preparations for the future.”
From cooking to crafting to care, the GMCN is always looking for volunteers. One option is its Cook for Kids Meals where volunteers recruit a team of up to six, purchase groceries and cook breakfast, lunch or dinner for the children currently sheltered at the nursery. For volunteers with less time to spare, GMCN’s Creative Snack volunteer opportunity—where volunteers purchase groceries and serve a snack at the shelter—is a good way to get started. Volunteers can also become involved with Enrichment Activities, including leading kids in activities such as games, sports, crafts or music.
“2018 is our 35th anniversary,” says Burck. “We’re celebrating 35 years of supporting and strengthening. Of recognizing the strength of families.” Thirty-five years of creating villages in the city, of connecting families with resources so parents do not need to feel alone.
Greater Minneapolis Crisis Nursery
Main line: 763.591.0400