Friday, January 28, 2011

The Jewel that is Talitha Koum

On the corner of Clay and 13th in downtown Waco, Texas lies a diamond in the ruff, a jewel uncommonly seen by those of us busily bustling around, absorbed in our own little routine lives.
Today I had the pleasure to meet face-to-face with one of the true angels blazing the path for this powerful mission. Mrs. Nan Holmes. It is such a small, funny world that we live in. I met Nan 10-11 years ago via phone call to the small christian clothing boutique that I worked in through HS and some early college years on seasonal breaks. Nan had visited Jefferson before and had fallen in love iwth AMAZING GRACE. It was a cute little store in the busy tourist town. I loved my job. And all the customers LOVED the prices. Amazing Grace was one of the most reasonable store in town and also the matriarch of both the family and the store had a true gift at choosing appropriate and 'hot' inventory. Nan was in love with the clothing side. Amazing Grace could sell quality, trendy professional clothing at a rock bottom price. If you've ever been to a Dressing Gaudy--I've been told Amazing Grace had them beat (ten fold). It was just a fun environment for both shoppers and employees alike. After a few of our long-distance phone conversations trying to work out her latest mail order clothing I realized that her husband had been, and whould be again, my professor (3 times over).
After leaving Amazing Grace and moving to Waco full time after my marriage and then my Baylor graduation soon following I lost contact with Nan and Walter Holmes. But no so now!
I was watching children for pay at a local church when my husband came out of service all excited about a new program here in Waco. It was Talitha Koum. As he described the guest speaker and told me a bit about the message I said "gimme that program!". And there she was, Mrs. Nan Holmes! HAHA! Crazy world we live in. Well, we got back in contact. She reviewed my first book, "Why Did This Happen to Me, Aunt Lou? for me and invited me to take a tour of TK. What a beautiful idea.
So that is what I did...

The mission of Talitha Koum is to improve outcomes for at-risk children and their families from the Kate Ross government housing neighborhood of South Waco through an intensive care program. Beginning with a mental health Therapeutic Nursery for birth to six year olds and comprehensive support for each child’s family, [Talitha Koum] will grow to support our children through High School graduation.
This facility is the only one of its kind in the south, and one of only a handful in the nation.
According the the Talitha Koum website at http://www.talithakoum.org/nursery.html
"Most children in the Kate Ross neighborhood of South Waco are subjected to more than extreme poverty. They also often face violence, unstable living situations, and fear of abandonment. The desperate tasks of surviving poverty leave many families in physical and emotional chaos. It is around this chaos that the mind of an infant creates its reality; literally the brain constructs around chaos. It is the role of our therapeutic nursery to shape each child’s day with consistency of loving care, sensitivity to their individuality, and opportunities for self-expression.
Some of our toddlers receive weekly visits from a play therapist in our specially equipped play therapy room (thanks to a dedicated gift by a special friend, Kiwanians’ renovations and therapy toys donated by our skilled therapists, Dr. Keith Warren and Dr. Helen Benedict). This delicate form of therapy uses symbolic play and expressive art approaches to help children connect with their feelings and experiences.
Primary to our time with infants and toddlers in the classroom is our growing psychological understanding of each child. Our teachers have weekly consultations with the Nurture Center’s clinical director, Dr. Warren, giving opportunity to discuss special needs.
Besides love and affirmation, our Nurture Center provides a proven cognitive development curriculum. Research shows that this approach works. The High/Scope® curriculum has been longitudinally studied with the same group of subjects from age infant to 40. The results are astonishing, and support the kind of intervention we are doing in children’s lives. (Click here to view some of the research results http://www.talithakoum.org/nurserysubpage.html.)
The Nurture Center is wholly dependent upon outside donations, grants, and limited government funding to survive. We also need volunteers to come and spend time with the children in our baby-mentoring program. We ask that you will come by our building at 1311 Clay Avenue in Waco, and prayerfully consider how you might help us to say to these little ones, “My child, get up!” "
They offer several ground-breaking programs designed around some very cutting edge, ground breaking research.
The Therapeutic Nursery at Talitha Koum provides birth-to-five year old care with clinical focus on mental health alongside cognitive learning through High/Scope curriculum Naomi’s LAP (loving attentive participation).
The organization also offers family assistance counseling
*Learning Disability testing & remediation
* Parenting classes
* Enrichment opportunities
Guidance & assistance w/:
* Education
* Job training
* Employment
* Addiction recovery
* Life skills
(Loving Attentive Participation)
You can read an additional article in Waco Today about Talitha Koum at this site: http://www.talithakoum.org/wacotoday1.html
This program is changing lives and breaking family dynamics cycles in the downtown Waco area.
What a beautiful thing to say “My child, get up!”.

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