Cope Family Resource Center Celebrates 50 Years of Helping Napa Families and Children | Lifestyles

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KATHLEEN REYNOLDS

Over 50 years ago, Linda (Thomas) Scott read a tragic story in the newspaper about the brutal Easter Sunday death of a 3-year-old child.

“I thought about it a lot and it seemed like there was a gap in services for stressed parents,” Scott said. “These parents were unlikely to call the police or any agency that could take their children. I felt there should be a community organization that acted proactively to prevent child abuse.

“First, I had to educate myself before I could recruit volunteers to educate the community. I organized a forum and included the district attorney, sheriff’s office, police department, child protective services, any agencies that might be involved. Betty Hagedorn, who was the founder of the Napa (Valley) College Child Development Center, made it a requirement for her students. The public came and I wrote a forum post that the Napa Register printed.

From a basic idea and with the help of participating agencies, community volunteers formed Child Abuse Prevention Services (CAPS), operating a 24-hour crisis hotline on 24 from Scott’s home. The volunteers received eight weeks of crisis intervention training before they could work.

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“We got a lot of calls,” Scott said. “Our goal was to try to be effective in preventing abuse and neglect, to intervene before something serious happens. I knew the concept had timeless value, but I had no idea that 50 years later it would have become what it is today.

The organization changed its name in 1976 to Child or Parent Emergency (COPE) and hired a director. Several years later, its services had expanded to include emergency babysitting, emergency nappies, home visitation service and court-ordered supervised visitation. In the 1980s, telephone service included children who were home alone after school.

Cope has added group support and parenting classes to its growing list of services. He expanded his services to Spanish-speaking families and became the administrative head of the Child Abuse Council of Napa County (CAPC).

Cope and CAPS launched the first annual Blue Ribbon Campaign in 1992 to raise awareness and funds for the prevention of child abuse. In 2000, the organization changed its name to Cope Family Resource Center.

Michele Grupe became Executive Director in 2017. She began her tenure at Cope in 2003 as Director of Development and later became Associate Director.

“I was blessed with a stable upbringing with loving parents and the privilege and benefits that brings to a child,” she said. “Every child deserves the same opportunity for a safe and loving family.”

“Cope is a welcoming place for anyone raising children. We changed our name over the years to reflect this and because the misconception was that the only people who asked for help were abusive parents.

“Every parent needs help and support because it’s hard work. I think people would be surprised if we were helping 1,000 to 1,200 parents a year, including 3,000 children. There are a number of things we do and services we provide. We will connect them to other services if necessary, sharing the work with all the community organizations.”

What future for Cope?

“Before the fire, it was about building capacity and reaching more families,” Grupe said of the situation before the 2017 wildfires. making public comments at meetings. Often these are people who usually do not represent themselves. This way they are more part of the community.

To raise funds for Cope’s work, Kathryn Hall is hosting a fundraising gala at HALL Wines at 6 p.m. on June 25. Gala information is available on the Cope website copefamilycenter.org.

“Kathryn Hall was lovely and generous in hosting the event,” said Grupe. “We have an auspicious fundraising goal of raising $500,000 to support our services. We have generous auction lots. We hope people will take this opportunity to invest in us to build a solid foundation for the next 50 years.

Grupe wants families to know two important things: “First, prevention works. People can have problems even if their challenge is homelessness or mental health. They have the opportunity to build a strong family and community. The second thing is to call Cope or another family resource center if they don’t know where to go for help. We can help them or put them in touch with the services they need.

Among Cope’s many successes over the years, Grupe says she’s proud of how the staff coped during the worst of the pandemic.

“Staff were coping with the pandemic on their own, but they were able to maintain and strengthen the relationships they had through the home visitation program. Families knew they could call and have someone to talk to; a friendly ear, if they needed anything.

Founder Linda Scott echoed a similar thought.

“Cope had the same message when he started as he does now. Don’t be ashamed to ask for help. Everyone needs help from time to time. Phone and there’s someone .Just ask.There is no shame in asking.

Cope can be reached at 707-252-1123 or by email at [email protected]

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