WellStar Bright Space Opens in Georgia

November 9th, 2015

Bright Space signs and plaquesWellStar Health System, the largest not-for-profit health system in Georgia , Cherokee Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), and the Bright Horizons Foundation for Children® recently created a Bright Space® to provide a safe and warm home environment for foster children to rebuild family bonds at the Children’s Haven. The Children’s Haven promotes the health and happiness of foster children, many who are impacted by abuse.

“One of our visions was to create a more appropriate visitation environment for supervised parental visits with foster children,” said Deirdre Hollands, executive director of The Children’s Haven. “There was no safe and secure place for visits. They were happening in fast food restaurants – what do you do with a 3-year-old for two hours in that type of environment?”

The new Bright Space, named the WellStar Family Time Visitation Center, is a warm, homey environment including a full working kitchen, dining room, and living room full of child-appropriate toys and centers.  “Because of WellStar and Bright Horizons, we were able to make the Visitation Center very much like a home,” said Hollands.

Kitchen viewBright Horizons manages WellStar’s onsite child care and backup care programs for team members. The WellStar Family Time Visitation Center was created through the new Foundation Champions for Children program, that works with partner organizations to invest in the children of their communities.

“It’s incredible to have the opportunity to create a place where children and families in Cherokee can begin to build a life well lived together,” said Karen Mathews, WellStar director of WorkLife services and Cherokee Chamber of Commerce board member. “WellStar is about enriching the lives of our community. This center will have a tangible impact on families in Cherokee.”



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Making a Difference: Director J.J. Lynch Created a Healing Space for Women

October 5th, 2015

The Willis Family Shelter therapy room for women was functional, but plain. When J.J. Lynch, Director at Bright Horizons at Sudbury, MA, saw it, she knew she had to make it a warm and inviting space where women could go to open up and heal.

With funding help from the Marlborough Junior Women’s Club and donated furniture, she did just that.Check out these amazing before and after photos.Therapy Room

“I felt like I was the one who benefited from doing this, says J.J.”To see the finished project and do something that would benefit so many made it all worthwhile.”

Bright Horizons at Sudbury is also working on opening a Bright Space later this year at the Willis Family Shelter.

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Champions for Children Bright Space Provides Place for Young Women to Socialize and Exercise

September 17th, 2015

A new Bright Space® recently opened in the gym at The Settlement Home for Children. The Settlement Home serves for girls and young women with histories of severe trauma, abuse, and neglect.

“Health and physical fitness play an integral role in helping our children heal. We are grateful for this new gym and the opportunity to give our kids a beautiful and functional place to work out and learn healthy habits that will serve them in the future,” said Darcie DeShazo, Executive Director at The Settlement Home.

Settlement House Stuart Dupuy

Mom’s Best Friend, the largest and most established nanny and household staffing agency in Texas, sponsored this Bright Space and worked together with Bright Horizons employees to create the space. It is one of the first created through the new Foundation Champions for Children program, that works with partner organizations to invest in the children of their communities through the Foundation’s Bright Space program.

“We’re honored to have the opportunity to continue our long-standing support of The Settlement Home through the Bright Horizons Foundation for Children. The opening of this Bright Space will enable children to grow within a safe and structured environment, and our hope is that this initiative will positively impact the children of The Settlement Home, as well as the Austin community,” commented Stuart Dupuy, Principal at Mom’s Best Friend.

Watch this video about creating the space.


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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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