The Power of Community

Read Samantha Monterrey‘s story first hand as a new resident to Yakima, as a teen and her involvement in YouthWorks pageants, and now as the Volunteer Coordinator for North Star Lodge, ‘Ohana, and Children’s Village.

“I knew from a young age that I wanted to understand what it felt like to belong to a community. Because of our constant moving, I never truly felt like I belonged to a particular school or community. Just when I got comfortable somewhere, we packed up and left. I never imagined that a rural agricultural town of 16,000 people would become my refuge.

Sunnyside was the first time I truly felt accepted. It was the first-time people of different walks of life would take me and my family in as their own. Fast forward to my junior year of high school. I wasn’t a scholar or an athlete. I blended well with the different social groups but I wasn’t popular. I was comfortable in my own shoes for once in my life and I was content with that.

Advisory was a new concept at the time and one I had zero appreciation for it at first. When Mr. Martinez asked me to be a coordinator for the Mr. Sunnyside High School pageant, I never imagine the long-lasting impact it would have on my life. The very sense of belonging I had longed for had become a part of my youth. I was giving back to my community without even knowing it.

I remember the day I met the wonderful staff of The Memorial Foundation and the tour of Children’s Village and Memorial’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.  I remember our miracle baby, her family and how incredibly grateful her parents were that the young people of our community were involved in making such a big impact on the lives of local children and families with special health care needs. We returned to school knowing how important our roles as coordinators and contestants were and we weren’t going to fail in them.

Children’s Village is often referred to as “a beacon of hope” in our community. It is hope for the children and families who receive the necessary services they probably wouldn’t receive otherwise. It is hope for parents who receive a diagnosis of their child and feel lost, scared and confused. It is hope for providers that know that they are helping someone to live a better life. And for me, it is the beacon that reminds me of the true power a community can have when it comes together to take care of its own.

Ten years later, I have found myself appreciating this familiar place for similar but vastly different reasons. As a staff member here, I have come to know and understand the many facets that make Children’s Village a magical place. This is a place that truly changes lives in more ways than we know. I am so thankful to have been given the opportunity to be a part of it.”

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Becoming a parent partner workshop

Do you know of any parents or caregivers of Deaf, Deaf/Blind or Hard of Hearing children who are interested in building their leadership skills? Washington State Hands and Voices and Seattle Children’s Center for Children with Special Needs are holding a free training  in Spokane! This training will help parents effectively participate in meetings, recognize the ways and reasons for sharing their story with purpose and more.

Deadline to register is February 8. Register at Please see the attached flyer for more details.

Any questions, contact Christine Griffin or Kim Arthur.


You can view full details here Becoming a Parent Partner Workshop Feb 10

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Reflection by Laura Reed, Children’s Village Physical Therapist

Children’s Village has always been a celebration for this community … From the days when it was nothing more than a vision in the minds of a few amazing Dreamers… To the day that little John Jones, hard hat on and shovel in hand, broke ground on this beautiful piece of land… To the day our rainbow covered doors opened and children began flooding in… up to this very day … Children’s Village has always been a celebration.

Over the years, we have had the honor of hosting a number of fairly prestigious guests, all who in one way or another have highlighted our mission here at Children’s Village.

Mona Locke, wife of then Senator Gary Locke, met with many families and staff.   Melinda Gates has helped to raise awareness around some of the difficulties raising a child with special needs.  We have had Olympic Swimming Medalists inspire many of our kids while playing and splashing around in our pool.  Ex-NBA great Isaiah Thomas came and “hung out” with kids, giving hugs and lap time to many!  Tipper Gore, wife of then Vice Presidential candidate Al Gore met with families to hear about their concerns and challenges.  Even the amazing Bert and Ernie, straight from Sesame Street, graced our halls, bringing smiles and joy to many!

And while it was an honor to host these kind and very public figures, it is every day that we get to meet so many true heroes.  Because right here… Right in our own backyards…

Every day there is a new family who is learning to live their lives with a child who has special needs….  And that family is feeling Anxiety… Fear… Joy… Isolation… Hope…Despair…Anger…Elation…Concern….     And yet they walk across our bridge and through those rainbow doors….   With their 1 month-old baby.  Their 2 year old.  Their 8 or 12 year old child…

And when they hand over to you the most precious thing in their lives.   There is no GREATER honor

The Children’s Village is a home of Triumph.  Right here in these walls.  Triumph happens every day….

It is the mom you meet at the elevator, who is bursting with excitement because her child, who has been on a feeding tube for the first year and a half of his life, just ate 2 bites of cracker and a spoonful of applesauce!  She leaves today full of pride and hope for her baby!

It is the mom who calls you at 6:30 one night, because even though they have an appointment to come and see your first thing the next morning, she can’t wait that long to tell you that her 3-year old just stood up all by himself for the very first time!

It is the 9-year old with Autism, who comes running down the hall, waving a card in his hand so excited to show you the very first invitation he has ever received to a birthday party…  “LOOK!   I have a FRIEND!”

It is the mom who moves here with her 3-year old daughter, who cannot begin to utter the words “cerebral palsy”.  As a matter of fact, she covers her mouth and whispers while saying this in front of her little girl. And after a month of feeling the support of Children’s Village, not only is she able to say “cerebral palsy”, but is able to say it without shame or guilt, ready to teach the world about it, and is now able to instill confidence and empowerment in her child. 

This child was one of the first children to play on the playground at the Children’s Village.  Several months later, this family moved out of town, to a different county.  And do you know what???  One evening as I turned on the news, guess what I saw….!  This mom’s face, filling the television screen!  And do you know what she did??  This mom was instrumental in rallying her new community into building a playground that was accessible to ALL children! 

TRIUMPH!!And do you see?   Triumph is not contained within the walls of the Children’s Village…

It is not contained within the walls of a child’s home….Nor their school. Or church. It is not contained within the boundaries of this town.

Not even within the boundaries of this county!

Through our littlest heroes and the incredible families we serve, the compassion and caring of the Children’s Village touches many lives.  Triumph spreads beyond these walls, and beyond this county, to inspire and give hope to many.  Many who are already on this journey, and many who will find themselves seeking information, acceptance, hope, sharing, and triumph.

There is still time left to make your end of year donation… consider supporting the good work that is performed at Children’s Village by DONATING HERE.

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My Journey in Holland

Holland – A support group for families who have received a new diagnosis for their child.

At the beginning of the year my (then)fiancé and I were in such a terrible place in our relationship.  Family outings were a struggle.  Our home life was busy and complicated.  We couldn’t agree on     parenting our 3 year old son, who has Autism and sensory  processing disorder.  This diagnosis came with so many new things, we didn’t know where to start or who to turn to for  advice.  Then one day I got an email saying that a new Holland session was starting in the Spring.  I was  hesitant to sign up for this class, but in the end, I decided I didn’t have anything to lose and I called to register.

When the day came to start Holland, my  fiancé and I were greeted by the staff with welcoming arms.  I knew then that I had found my home.  In the group we discovered that we weren’t the o


nly ones going through this and we got a lot of help along the way.

When we graduated from Holland we came out stronger as a couple and as parents. My husband could finally understand our son on a new level, and was able to communicate and interact with him in fun and successful new ways.

We were married this Fall.  If it wasn’t for Holland, I’m not sure where our relationship would be today.  Not to mention I gained some awesome new friends from the group as well. I can’t thank  Parent to Parent enough for everything they have done for

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Caring for yourself…

Workshop for parents and caregivers

Date: thursday, december 7th 2017
Time: 5:30-7:30 pm
Location: united methodist church, 906 e. Edison ave.,
*childcare and dinner provided!*
Contact liz at the parent-to-parent program,
 574-3266 to sign up!
Being a caregiver for a
Child with special needs can be demanding.
Learn about self-care methods to decrease stress, including:
*relaxation techniques
*healthy meal preparation
*importance of social connections
*physical activity & yoga

WSU Extension programs and policies are consistent with federal and state laws and regulations on nondiscrimination regarding race, sex, religion, age, color, creed, national origin, disability, marital status, sexual orientation, and veteran status.  Evidence or noncompliance may be reported through your local WSU Extension office.  Reasonable accommodations will be made for persons with disabilities and special needs who contact Gina Ord, County Director at (509) 574-1600, at least twoweeks prior to the event.

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You’re going to be OK


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Children’s Village an asset to the children in our community

“ I am thankful for the visionary leadership and generous community that came together and built  Children’s Village twenty years ago.  Children’s Village has been a great partner and asset to the children in our community, giving a voice and second chance to those in our community that need it more than anyone, providing a tomorrow for those who didn’t think there was a “today.”  The Village continues to grow and serve our community and beyond.

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“It’s like a daily improv show, you never know what is going to come your way.”

Autism 200 is a series of 90-minute classes for parents and caregivers of children with autism who wish to better understand autism spectrum disorder. Faculty from Seattle Children’s Hospital and the University of Washington teach the classes. Children’s Village provides a teleconference the 3rd Thursday of the month, 7pm at Children’s Village.

This is a great way for local families to access this wonderful resource.  Last week, the Autism 200 presentation was a panel of siblings of individuals on the Autism spectrum. The siblings shared how their lives have been affected by having a sibling with Autism;  the challenges, successes and laughter. They shared helpful advice for parents and how their sibling with Autism has made them better people.  One even referred to it as a “super power” because he has learned to be more observant in the world.  One of panelists, who has a sister with Autism said, “It’s like a daily improv show, you never know what is going to come your way.”  For more information on the Autism 200 series at Children’s Village,  contact Liz Cruz at 574-3266.

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Izzy was born with Arthrogryposis

Izzy is 12 years old and in the 6th grade at Naches Valley Middle School.  She likes hip hop dance, choir, soccer and very busy for a young teenager.  One of her favorite activities is Rodeo.  She started at 3 years old with lead line, her dad would lead the horse as she rode on it.  Now she goes independently and this year, she is doing bigger rodeos!  Her goal is the Indian National Finals Rodeo.  She practices at the Toppenish CWRA Arena and at Hart ranch in Selah. 

Izzy was born with Arthrogryposis – which means some of her joints in her hands don’t move as much as normal and are bent in one position, but Izzy has super strong trunk and leg strength to help her do things that she does not have the hand strength to do.  As a baby, she was able to just pop up without the use of her hands, because she was so strong in her trunk and legs. 

Children’s Village Physical Therapist Karla Pezzarossi, along with a specialists from Seattle Children’s hospital  came to meet Izzy and her mom in the hospital when Izzy was just 2 days old.  She  had a tiny little splints for her hands at 2 weeks old, and received services at Children’s Village, working with Karla.  By the time she was 4 years old, she had figured out her own way to do most everything and “graduated” discharged from Children’s Village.  

Today, Izzy is back at Children’s Village, working with Occupational Therapist Debbie Sheppard on how to develop stronger hand and finger control, for tasks like buttoning and zipping clothing. Her biggest challenge is when she has hands-on activities at school, movements that require hands with her choir performances.  Sometimes other kids just don’t understand or know what to think about how she has to try to adapt.  Izzy’s mom is amazed at what she can do, she won’t be limited by what she can’t do!

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NEW! Caring for the Caregiver classes…. In Sunnyside!

This class will provide some practical tips for parents/caregivers…. And includes dinner, child care and an opportunity for parents raising children with special needs to connect!!  Please share with families!

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