The Annual Review November 2021: Telling our stories
Kate Carnaroli & Family Kate and her family came to the Grapevine in 2018, after hearing about the Better Beginnings program from a friend. She was looking for a place to go where her boys, Parker (now 5), and Kaleb (now 3), could socialize and meet other children. Kate shares that the boys have grown very comfortable at the Grapevine, “They love it and always ask if it’s Tuesday,” she laughs, “I say the group is for them but really, it’s for me!” Kate says she didn’t realize how beneficial being a part of a parent group would be. “I love having the time to talk, vent and learn from other parents and to know that everything I say is confidential and isn’t going to be shared outside of the group. Having this program helps us reset and creates a better flow to our day.” And now that her son Parker is 5, he has graduated to the Grapevine’s Learning Vine preschool. Kate loves that it is an outdoor based program. “I think he learns better that way, actually. In addition, both of the boys are still in a playgroup together, and I see them working together and how good it is for them.” And as a volunteer parent, Kate has helped with several Grapevine events and is looking forward to getting more involved. She is also excited about the opportunities at Avenue A Teen Center for her stepdaughter, who is 12. Kate sums it up by sharing, “The Grapevine seems to have checked all the boxes for the things our family needs right now!” Stephanie & Mikala Mackesy Mikala Mackesy’s first introduction to the Grapevine was at the age of four in our Learning Vine Preschool. She remembers the “wonderful Miss Carol ‘’ and hours of fun outdoor play, circle time, and her favorite---sing time with parents. It’s not often that teenagers talk of preschool with such enthusiasm. For Mikala, Learning Vine Preschool was a formative experience, or as she puts it “such a happy place.” Her mother, Stephanie, was part of the parent cooperative preschool, and says that working with Carol Lunan was “incredible.” Years later, Mikala came back to The Grapevine as a 6th grader, as a member of our Avenue A Club afterschool program. She remembers making crafts with Arlene and feeling like it was a great place to unwind after the school day. At an Avenue A summer cooking program, Mikala’s world expanded. “I met my best friend at Avenue A! It’s hard to top that!” Throughout the years Stephanie has remained connected with The Grapevine through programs such as Guiding Good Choices for parents of pre-teens. Stephanie says she gathered ideas and information that she’s applied to parenting a teenager. “When Mikala became involved with Avenue A, it opened up so much for my daughter. She loves it there.” Over the years, Mikala has participated in Avenue A’s Creative Writing Club, art group, and other teen programs. Mikala describes Avenue A as “A place for everybody. Everybody has a place there. Everyone belongs.” Stephanie adds, “The Grapevine and Avenue A are safe places for children to be. That’s very important to us.” Focus on Mental Health The Grapevine recognizes the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on our community and families. Social Isolation, financial hardship, and changes in family and home circumstances have affected our mental health and well being. This past year we continued to shine a light on mental health awareness and bring information and resources to our community. In March, in partnership with James A. Tuttle Library, we welcomed local author Irene Buchine to a Zoom presentation and discussion on Childhood Depression. Irene related this to her book, Celia and the Boy, a poignant story of a boy hiding under a staircase and the girl who tries to reach him. In June, we welcomed renowned Childhood Anxiety expert and therapist Lynn Lyons who presented on childhood anxiety and the impact of the pandemic on children and parents. Over 60 people attended this session and were given time to ask questions of Lynn on managing challenging behaviors and stressful situations at home. We have also heard from parents and teens that finding a mental health counselor or therapist can be challenging and frustrating. People seeking this support in our region will often encounter barriers such as waitlists and lack of insurance coverage. With financial support from the NH Charitable Foundation, The Grapevine initiated a pilot effort this year in partnership with The River Center to bring mental health providers together to share information and resources. We have begun to identify gaps in services, as well as connect providers to one another so that people might access services more quickly. This year two Grapevine staff members were qualified as trainers in the NAMI Connect Program Suicide Prevention training. We now have the ability to offer this “gatekeeper” training to anyone in our region who wishes to understand the signs and symptoms of a person at risk of suicide and what they can do to prevent it. As an organization, we are committed to promoting mental health and suicide prevention awareness across our region.