When Iren first learned of Cope from friends, she was interested in learning more and, at some point, getting involved. Her commitment to our mission was cemented about a year later when three year old Kayleigh Slusher died at the hands of her mother and her boyfriend. “The heartbreaking story impacted me so much that I couldn’t sleep at night,” Iren said. “I thought about my children, my grandchildren and my nieces and nephews. I couldn’t fathom how one child could be so privileged and another child so vulnerable that she could be killed by the people who were supposed to protect her”.
We met Amadu and his family when they came to Cope Family Center seeking help after the devastating Napa Complex Fires. Amadu, a single dad, was at work when the evacuation advisory for his neighborhood was issued on October 11. Despite the dire situation, his employer wouldn’t permit him to leave to get his three children. Due to past trauma, the stress triggered Amadu’s PTSD which resulted in his employer putting him on unpaid leave. Though he had applied for state disability benefits, he hadn’t yet received payments by the time he came to Cope. Desperate for assistance paying his rent so he could keep a roof over his family’s head, Amadu applied for an Emergency Financial Assistance grant, a disaster relief fund distributed by Cope and funded by the Napa Valley Community Foundation.
As Chief Probation Officer for Napa County, Mary Butler has seen firsthand the importance of preventing child abuse and neglect. “When I walk into Juvenile Hall, I see children who would rather be locked up than go home,” she said. “Adolescents tend to act out a little bit more. They get into trouble. They are brought into Juvenile Hall and they’re identified as the problem. But when you dig a little deeper, you find out their home life is very chaotic. They may or may not have a home. They may not have food for meals. They gain 20-30 pound while in Juvenile Hall because it is the first time they’ve had three meals every day. Kids have told me ‘If I’m here at Christmas, I’ll get a Christmas present. But if I leave before the Christmas party, I won’t get any presents this year.’ It breaks your heart. Kids shouldn’t be in Juvenile Hall to get a Christmas present.”
Cecilia first came to Cope when she was pregnant with twins. Having grown up in an abusive home, struggling to make ends meet, estranged from the baby’s father and without supportive family nearby, Cecilia felt unprepared for motherhood. “I knew I was going to be a single parent of twins. And that in itself was terrifying. So I was actively seeking a support system in my community and I found it here at Cope,” Cecilia said.
Rosanna has been volunteering at Cope since August. “When I was researching organizations to get involved with, I was really impressed with how Cope focuses on prevention,” Rosanna said. “Their work creates a ripple effect through generations. Helping parents today impacts their children and their children’s children. That really inspired me and I knew I wanted to be a part of it.”
When Kathy Glass first got involved with Cope four years ago, she was impacted by the families she met. “I got to meet some of the families Cope serves,” she explained. “And it really touched my heart. I decided to do whatever I can to stay involved with this organization because they do the right thing.”
Working at our Family Resource Center (FRC) front desk, Magali is often the first person people meet when they come through Cope’s doors. As our Resource Specialist, she helps identify families’ needs and connect them with the appropriate resources. Sometimes it’s as simple as distributing diapers or a gift card. But often, parents don’t know what resources are available.
Gretchen started coming to Cope about 30 years ago, at a time in her life when she struggled to care for her young children. “I was an addict for many years,” Gretchen explained. “When my kids were younger, Cope helped me out with diapers and formula. Eventually I lost custody of my children because I couldn’t be the parent they needed.”