New Bright Space Opens at Illinois Food Kitchen

July 30th, 2015

PADSWelcome to our newest Bright Space, a school-age space with a featured homework area at the PADS/Sharing Hands at St. Mary of Vernon in Illinois, a food kitchen.

Natalie Foss, a teacher at Bright Horizons North Kennicutt , was familiar with PADS (Providing Advocacy, Dignity, and Shelter) because her mom is the food coordinator for the food kitchen. She worked together with Regional Manager Penny Zimmerman and Center Director Sara Torres to make the Bright Space happen.

“We feel that the children look for and need the attention of our wonderful teen and adult volunteers, but we are limited with the supplies we have to work with,” said Natalie’s mom Loretta. “The Bright Space gives the children the opportunity to ‘learn’ in a fun way through computers, have their own work space, and get the help they might need.”

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New Bright Space Opens for Webster House

July 27th, 2015

Children and teens at the Webster House in Bedford, NH, now have a fantastic room for doing homework thanks to the Bright Space created by Bright Horizons at Bedford and Bright Horizons at Nashua.

The Bright Space team was able to brighten the current homework room, add in some new storage and a work desk, put in new hardwood flooring, and provide laptops. The children and staff were so incredibly grateful and their excitement was contagious.

Everyone loved doing the Bright Space so much that they are working towards another one at Webster House to renovate a basement recreational room.

 

Webster After 3 Webster After 2 Webster After 1

 

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First Bright Space in Alaska Opens

July 23rd, 2015

Bright Horizons’ employees from Alaska, Seattle, California, and Illinois partnered with Southcentral Foundation employees and families to raise the money to renovate the play yard and turn the nursery into a Bright Space. It had been 14 years since the nursery had been updated.

The Bright Space will serve women and their children living at the Southcentral Foundation’s Dena A Coy Residential Treatment Program in Anchorage for women who are experiencing problems with alcohol or drugs, or experiencing emotional and psychological issues.

“When mothers experience stress, children are affected,” said Monica Byrd, Dena A Coy Manager. “We provide a safe place for children to play, explore, and learn with other children.”

Bright Horizons Southcentral Foundation Employee Family Center and Center Director Jen Clark were instrumental in making the Bright Space happen.

“We wanted an agency partner that mirrored the culture make up of our Center,” says Jen about selecting the Dena A Coy program. “It was important to me to have a Bright Space that benefited the Alaska Native community.”

The team renovated both the nursery and an outside play space. DVP Cindy Hartzel and her husband, Regional Manager Ellen Sklanka and her husband, and Washington Center Directors Danielle Degges and Jamie Rhone joined Jen and her staff to help set up the spaces.

“I believe being involved in the fundraising and renovation of the space has brought our team closer together. Teachers are excited to continue the relationship with the agency,” says Jen. “The Foundation is one reason I joined Bright Horizons. I believe in the mission to impact the lives of children and families by volunteering in the community where we live and work.”

Alaska for marquee

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First Hospice Bright Space Opens

July 16th, 2015

Hospice 1A very special Bright Space has opened for children experiencing grief for a family member at Alexian Brothers Hospice in Elk Grove, IL.

Center Director Heather Santiemmo and Assistant Director Dana Blanagh led the team from The Early Education Center at Zurich who created the space. Heather, who has helped create four other Bright Spaces, got the idea for doing one at the hospice when a family member was there.

“We would go there daily, and there was just a small room with a TV for the kids, so they were running up and down the hall,” says Heather. “There was an outside space, but nothing to play with. We were constantly shushing them.”

“Children can spend long hours here, and need stimulation, an opportunity to rest, and an area conducive to many different levels of interaction,” said Bonnie O’Guinn, Director of Clinical Operations for Alexian Brothers Hospice. “These children are going through grief in the loss of a parent or grandparent and need play time to process this experience.”

“Doing the Bright Space there was completely out of the box,” says Heather. “It was thanks for the great care they provide at a hard time for families.”

The space is a family room style environment for people to relax while visiting family members. Children are supervised by family, with occasional staff supervision. They would like to use the space for some informal therapy for families and potentially as a space for children to interact with chaplains and social workers. And a trunk full of balls and items to play with in the outside space was provided also.Hospice 2

While most Bright Spaces serve children staying in homeless shelters, the Foundation has also opened Bright Spaces in domestic violence shelters, courthouses, hospitals, neonatal intensive care units, and women’s prisons.

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College Coach Prepares Crockpots & Cookbooks for Families Leaving Shelters

July 13th, 2015

Families moving from a shelter in their own housing sometimes literally have nothing but the clothes on their back to take with them. The College Coach team at Bright Horizons decided to make some very special packages to deliver to three different Bright Spaces in Massachusetts for families moving out as a Brightening Lives Activity.

First, they gathered together their favorite crockpot recipes with an emphasis on tasty, nutritious, and easy and put together an original cookbook.

“Creating the cookbooks was a fulfilling experience. Everyone who sent in a recipe was excited about sharing their favorite dishes with the families, including myself!” said Stephanie Porter, Senior Manager at College Coach. She and Beth Feinberg Keenan, Director of College Finance, organized the event. “People really put thought into offering dishes that were healthy, family friendly, easy, and inexpensive.”

They then purchased 40 crockpots and filled them with the cookbook and utensils. Six of the crockpots were delivered to the Davis Square Bright Horizons Center in Somerville to deliver to the confidential location of a domestic violence shelter where they are working to create a new Bright Space. Long-time shelter partner St. Ambrose Family Shelter in Dorchester received 14 crockpots and will give them to families as they leave the shelter. The remaining 20 crockpots went to the Willis Family Shelter.

“It’s so important to be able to take the time to share a meal with your loved ones,” said Stephanie. “I hope that the cookbooks and crockpots will help the receiving families to create good times and memories together.”

If you are interested in doing a Brightening Lives volunteer activity, please visit our resource page.

Crockpot for marquee

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Fitness Fundraising for the Foundation

July 9th, 2015

KB4K WoD The Bright Horizons Foundation for Children is working with Kettlebells4Kids to raise money for Bright Spaces. Bright Spaces are warm, safe, enriching places for children in homeless shelters and other agencies created by the Foundation and Bright Horizons employees.

Registration is open for individuals, and the money raised will benefit Bright Spaces in the state* where the event is held.  The events will be scheduled by each individual box to happen between Aug. 22-30.

Not into kettlebells? That’s OK – you can still make a donation or support a team.

*In the state of Massachusetts, the money raised will benefit Horizons for Homeless Children’s Playspaces. In the 11 states without a Bright Space, other agencies that work with homeless children and families will be selected as beneficiaries.

 

 

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LSI Creates Outdoor Bright Space in Minneapolis

July 6th, 2015

LSI 21Landscape Structures, Inc., (LSI) believes in enhancing the lives of children through play. As a national playground design firm, they are in a great position to impact many children. They were also a natural partner to help create an outdoor Bright Space in Minneapolis with the Bright Horizons Foundation for Children®.

After years of financially supporting the Annual Bright Horizons Golf Tournament, LSI decided they were ready to take a more hands-on approach to the Bright Spaces® program. They signed on as Patron Sponsor of the 2014 Golf Tournament, which included creating a Bright Space with the Foundation.

Working with the Foundation’s Bright Space team, LSI chose Simpson Housing in Minneapolis as their agency partner. Simpson Housing provides subsidized, supportive rental housing for families with children.

The playground features including a water and sand table, playhouse, a see saw, spinner, and play panels mounted on the fence were installed by a team of employees from LSI and Bright Horizons employees from the Bright Horizons Gaviidae, Bright Horizons Woodbury, Blue Cross Blue Shield Child Development Center, and Allianz Bright Beginnings in Minneapolis.

“It has been such a joy to see the children playing the built-in instruments, playing kitchen in the playhouse, smelling the flowers, and picking herbs,” says Janelle Leppa, Family Housing Programs Director at Simpson Housing. “Knowing that our families have experienced the trauma of homelessness and the enormous stress that comes with it , it is particularly meaningful to see parents and children play together in this beautiful Bright Space.”

 

 

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Making a Difference: Sandra Horne is Connecting with Children in New York Bright Space

July 2nd, 2015

sandra horneThe Bright Space at the Inn in Hempstead, New York, was created more than 10 years ago. Like many older Bright Spaces, it had been well loved and needed some TLC.

Sandra Horne, Administrative Assistant at Anna House, became interested in volunteering at a Bright Space during New Employee Orientation and contacted the Bright Space team to see if there was a match nearby where she could volunteer.

She ended up volunteering to be the Connector, or the designated Bright Horizons employee who stays in touch with the shelter hosting the Bright Space. A Connector finds out what the Bright Space and the shelter need and then helps organize volunteers to meet those needs.

“I am committed to go to the Inn twice a month,” says Sandra. “In addition to doing cleaning and bringing some donated toys, our first visits with the children were great. We painted with water colors on canvas boards, baked cupcakes, and talked about what they wanted to do the next time we came back.”

If you are interested in being a Connector, or just volunteering for a Bright Space, please contact the Bright Space team at brightspaces@brighthorizons.com to see if there is a Bright Space near you.

 

 

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Making a Difference: Mom is Teaching Daughter Compassion for the Hungry

June 22nd, 2015

Volunteering is a family affair for Mary Sakellarios, Director of Sourcing at Bright Horizons. She and her daughter, Maggie, volunteer monthly to serve food, prepare meals, and donate food to Bread and Roses.

Mary Sakellarios“My daughter, Maggie, and I have learned so much from our experiences at Bread and Roses,” says Mary. “Last week, we helped celebrate a woman’s birthday at the soup kitchen. My daughter was amazed at how the simple act of a surprise birthday cake brought such excitement to this woman’s day. It is humbling.”

Bread and Roses is a soup kitchen which has long been a center of hope and caring to thousands of people in the Merrimack Valley of Massachusetts. They recently received a Gleason Grant from the Bright Horizons Foundation for Children in Mary’s name.

“How wonderful that you include your daughter in this important work,” says Gary O’Neil, chairman of the Foundation’s Board of Directors and Senior Vice President, Employee, Community and Partner Engagement at Bright Horizons.Thanks for living the mission!”

“This means so much to me, Maggie, and the families served by Bread and Roses.  This grant will truly have an impact on families in the Lawrence, Massachusetts area,” says Mary. “Thank you so much!”

Any Bright Horizons employee or a group of employees who volunteers at least 20 hours a year with a qualified nonprofit organization* is eligible to apply for a Foundation grant. Larger grants are available in honor of those who volunteer more than 100 hours a year.

The Foundation recognizes the Bright Horizons volunteers who are making a difference in the communities where we live and work through volunteering, engagement, and fundraising.  Volunteers can be Foundation grant recipients, Community Champions, volunteers hosting Brightening Lives Activities, and/or groups or individuals fundraising for the Foundation. If you or someone you know should be recognized, please contact the Foundation at bhfoundation@brighthorizons.com.

*Please see our Funding Guidelines for more information on eligible organizations.

 

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Making a Difference: RM L’Ornya Bowie Nourishes Minds and Bodies of Children in D.C.

June 15th, 2015

Lornya BowieVolunteering for the Ivy Foundation of Washington, D.C., is a big part of Regional Manager L’Ornya Bowie’s life. L’Ornya is helping to build a playground, helps with monthly food drives to support the 1 in 8 children in D.C. that go hungry daily, and organized an October 2015 feeding homeless children event with a local shelter.

She also chairs the 2015 Childhood Hunger Awareness Initiative and is part of the committee to collect backpacks and school supplies for youth Kindergarten – 12th grade to provide these children with necessary supplies for academic success.

In honor of L’Ornya’s volunteer commitment, the Ivy Foundation recently received a $500 Gleason Grant in her name from the Bright Horizons Foundation for Children.

“I am beyond honored by this award!” says L’Ornya. “I am excited to share this with my fellow foundation members and to use the funds to provide children in the District of Columbia with food nourish their bodies and school supplies to nourish their minds.”

“Thank you to The Bright Horizons Foundation for Children and all those who make grants like this possible,” says L’Ornya. “The opportunity to use this to give back means more than you will ever know.”

Any Bright Horizons employee or a group of employees who volunteers at least 20 hours a year with a qualified nonprofit organization* is eligible to apply for a Foundation grant. Larger grants are available in honor of those who volunteer more than 100 hours a year.

The Foundation recognizes the Bright Horizons volunteers who are making a difference in the communities where we live and work through volunteering, engagement, and fundraising.  Volunteers can be Foundation grant recipients, Community Champions, volunteers hosting Brightening Lives Activities, and/or groups or individuals fundraising for the Foundation. If you or someone you know should be recognized, please contact the Foundation at bhfoundation@brighthorizons.com.

*Please see our Funding Guidelines for more information on eligible organizations.

 

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