Avedis Foundation: Legacy Parenting receives $65K grant

Vicky O. Misa
Shown, from left, are Mark Finley, Avedis Foundation board chair; Tracy Meeuwsen, Avedis program director; Lacey Holt, Legacy Parenting executive director; Avedis President Dr. Kathy Laster; Lauren Thomas, Legacy Parenting board member; and Audrey Seeliger, Avedis program officer.

Legacy Parenting Center recently received a $65,000 grant from the Avedis Foundation.

“The Avedis Foundation is proud to support Legacy Parenting with this grant,” Avedis Foundation President Dr. Kathy Laster said. “(Legacy Parenting Center Executive Director) Lacey Holt, her board of directors, small staff and army of volunteers run an effective and efficient operation with a solid vision for their future.”

They put forth the effort to reach out to other foundations to gain additional funding to grow services and ultimately become less reliant on the Avedis Foundation, Laster said.

Established in 2015, Legacy Parenting serves families in Pottawatomie County and surrounding cities providing parent education and resources from pregnancy to age five. Legacy’s mission is to build stronger, healthier families through education, resources, and mentoring. “Over the past four years, we’ve grown our client base from 96 parents to 338 parents with 553 children between them,” Holt said. “In 2019 alone, we taught over 2100 parent education lessons and distributed more than 84,000 diapers through The Legacy Store.”

Legacy is a proud partner agency for United Way of Pottawatomie County and relies on private donations as we currently do not receive any state or federal funds, she said.

“We are committed to building strong, healthy families,” Holt said. “We are grateful for the Avedis Foundation and other community partners who support us in our mission.”

About Legacy

The Earn While You Learn Parent Education Program is designed to partner with parents during the most formative years of their child’s life.

“We offer both video and hands-on parent education curriculum in an individualized setting, as well as group classes such as Infant/Child CPR, Infant Massage, Fatherhood Workshops, Poison Prevention, and more,” Holt said. “Our playroom is designed for parent and child interaction.”

She said as technology continues to take over our culture, play is disappearing.

“Parents must remember that children learn through play — cognitive skills like problem solving, new vocabulary, social and literacy skills, gross and fine motor skills,” she explained. “Play helps children grow emotionally; it’s an outlet for anxiety and stress and can help children process the effects of trauma.”

When we give parents the opportunity to play with their children under the guidance of our parent educators, it improves their relationship, attachment, and parenting skills, Holt said.

“Play can help the parent get in tune emotionally with their children,” she explained. “The foundation for future emotional stability is formed in the first few years of life.”

In addition to play, Holt said her parent educators offer developmental assessments to track a child’s development if there is concern of delay.

“Not only do we equip parents with knowledge of their child’s development and appropriate parenting skills, but we build long-term relationships with our clients,” she said. “We believe relationships drive change.”

Many of Legacy's clients come from generations of relational poverty, she said, lacking positive relationships to feel confident and loved.

“Clients are paired with a volunteer mentor or staff person for every appointment at Legacy,” she said. “With time, education, and consistent relationships, our clients feel empowered for real and lasting change.”

A parent might start coming to Legacy because they need help with diapers for their baby, but they keep coming because of the positive relationships they have formed, Holt said.

Clients earn points with each appointment to use to shop in The Legacy Store, Holt said. The store is stocked with diapers, clothing, baby equipment, formula and other essentials for their baby or toddler.

“Babies average 8-10 diapers per day, yet no government programs help specifically with the cost of diapers,” she said. “We currently distribute approximately 10,000 diapers per month to babies in our program.”

In addition to providing education and resources, Legacy links families to other helping agencies and programs leading to self-sufficiency.

“We recognize the long-term impact that adverse childhood experiences have on a person’s health and well-being,” Holt said. “Our partnership with OBU Marriage & Family Therapy offers free counseling services to our clients.”

Not only does Legacy help parents process and heal from their childhood trauma, she said but it is preventing their children from falling into the generational cycle of trauma and adversity.