New Bright Space in Connecticut     

August 27th, 2015

SouthParkInnWe have a new Bright Space at South Park Inn in Hartford, CT. The shelter’s Fireside Room, which is the community room for women and children, has been refurbished to make it bright and open – ready for families to learn and play together.

Renovations included installation of cabinets, countertops and new appliances for a kitchen area and a child’s computer station. In addition, the children’s area in the main community room downstairs is being refreshed with some new child sized furniture and toys.

Thanks to Bright Horizon’s Senior Manager of Recruiting Diane Soucy for leading the team in charge of the makeover, and April Parsons of HAI Group who, with help from the West Hartford United Methodist Church, led the fundraising team.

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Joel Cortina is Making a Difference

August 24th, 2015

Joel and his son Logan

Joel and his son Logan

Joel Cortina, Regional Manager in Division 12, volunteers with the YMCA of the Greater Tri-Cities in Washington.  He serves as a positive role model as he instructs and leads a group of 8-14 children in different youth sport activities.  Each program lasts 7-8 weeks, and Joel usually volunteers two weeknights or Saturdays for the games and practices.

In honor of Joel’s volunteer work, the YMCA will receive a Gleason Grant from the Bright Horizons Foundation for Children for $250.

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.

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

 

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Making a Difference: Chef Heather Hilliard Cooks Up Community Service

August 17th, 2015

Chef Heather Hilliard just can’t stay out of the kitchen. In addition to herHeather Hilliard duties as chef at the Lexmark Center for Children in Kentucky, the Lexington Ronald McDonald House and the Maxwell Street Presbyterian Church have also benefited from her culinary skills.

“Heather has a long history of volunteering in the community,” says Executive Director Angela Brant. “We are happy to have her enthusiasm and encouragement as we look for ways for our Bright Horizons staff to have an active role in our community.” Angela nominated Heather for a Community Champion Award, which she recently received.

Heather recently led a team of staff members and families to serve community dinner to people in need of a hot meal and companionship at the Maxwell Street Presbyterian Church. They hope to return to the church again.

At the Ronald McDonald House, “Heather planned a menu to feed 40 people based on the amount of money we raised as a staff, ordered the food, prepped ingredients, and then coached staff members in the preparation,” says Angela. “We served the food, met some of the residents, and took a tour of the Ronald McDonald House.  It was a great experience, and we hope to continue to serve the RMH.”

A true Community Champion, Heather is not stopping there. She is also organizing a Brightening Lives activity to provide personal care packs for families and individuals in need. Each Friday, staff are encouraged to bring in one or more personal care items in exchange for a free Better Together Jeans Day.  Next, the items will be sorted and bundle them into packs to make someone’s day a little bit better. The packs will be distributed to community agencies.

If you know of a Bright Horizons Family Solutions employee who is making an impact on their community through volunteering with a nonprofit organization, please complete the Community Champion Nomination Form and email it to bhfoundation@brighthorizons.com.

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.

 

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Two Bright Space Areas Open in Covenant House in D.C.

August 14th, 2015

Two Bright Space areas were recently created at the Covenant House shelter in Washington, D.C. : a computer room for the adults and a playroom for the children. Covenant House serves homeless 18-21 year old youth and their children.

A team from Bright Horizons at 1111 Pennsylvania Avenue and Recruitment Coordinator Nicole Brown chose the shelter because, “there are many young people that come in with small children, and the shelter didn’t have space for them to develop and grow,” said Nicole.

They computer room can be used for educational classes and job training to help the youth at Covenant House on their path to self-sufficiency.

Covenant House DC for marquee

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Iron Man Tim Iyoob Raises More Than $1,700 for Children

August 6th, 2015

Tim Iyoob 2When people tell him he’s crazy, Tim Iyoob doesn’t disagree. “There are two things I am crazy about,” he says. “Challenging myself physically and mentally, and helping children in need.”

Thanks to the super human efforts of Tim, two Bright Spaces for Colorado’s Coalition for the Homeless are much closer to being a reality. Tim, who is a manager at the Bright Horizons Contact Center in Broomfield, CO, recently completed the 2015 Boulder Iron Man competition after finishing a half Iron Man in 2014.

While Tim was officially listed as Did Not Finish (he was less than a mile away from the finish line at the 17-hour cutoff), “That was one of the coolest experiences that I’ve had in my life,” he said of the electricity at the finish line. “There were 25 people running me in.”

“I’m still proud that I finished, and I’m going to sport my medal with pride,” he said. “But I’ll be back next year to finish under 17.”

Tim swam 2.4 miles at the Boulder Reservoir, did a 112-mile bike course with amazing mountain views (and climbs), ran 26.2 miles, and raised more than $1,700 for the Bright Spaces.

“The Bright Horizons Foundation for Children is important to me, because I believe children are the future,” says Tim. “We must build strong children by supporting and developing them as much as we can. The Foundation does this, and that is why I support their cause.”

 

 

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Making a Difference: Margarita Mazaracki Volunteers for More than 9 Years with La Casa Bright Space

August 3rd, 2015

Margarita and her daughter Jessica Sorenson

Margarita and her daughter Jessica Sorenson

Margarita Mazaracki, a recruitment coordinator for Bright Horizons in California, first started her volunteer work with La Casa in 2006, on a committee to create a Bright Space in the emergency homeless shelter.

“I was part of the committee to create a warm and welcoming area for the children and mothers to play and connect. We worked closely with La Casa to make it function in all the ways La Casa needed – an art space, a group space, and a play space for kids from 0 to 18,” says Margarita.  “On opening day, I saw the impact we created, the children were so excited, their eyes beaming with joy! The transformation of the playroom into a modern, multi-use space, filled with toys and educational materials meant so much to the children, mothers, and staff.”

Over the years, Margarita stayed involved. She raised funds during fundraisers and helped keep the Bright Space clean and organized.  Today, on top of devoted special event volunteering, Margarita serves as the Bright Horizons Foundation for Children “Connector,” or the liaison between La Casa and Bright Horizons volunteers and the Foundation.

“To know that I’m able to impact children and mothers that are going through so much in their lives has been a continuous source of inspiration,” says Margarita. “I’m also very fortunate to be able to apply for grants through our Foundation to renovate the Bright Space—that’s my next project!”

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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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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