Angel Trees grow for Parents as TeachersPublished 9:14pm Tuesday, November 27, 2012
The Beaufort/Hyde Partnership for Children has its own set of angels. For the first time ever, the organization started an angel tree for the families they serve.
The families are involved in Parents as Teachers (PAT), a program that teaches parenting skills to parents of children under 5 years old. The families have twice-monthly home visits from partnership counselors who help them find community resources, test for learning disabilities and offer guidance and support.
“So, we know these families. We know these families’ needs. These are truly children who need help,” said Lisa Woolard, director of the partnership.
Families get involved with PAT for many reasons. Some of the parents have mental illnesses. Some are poor. Some are teen moms who did not finish school. Others live in rural communities with no means of transportation.
“They are all unique and just having a difficult time,” said the partnership’s PAT supervisor Catherine Keech. “The children, themselves, may be typically developing children. They just come from high-needs families.”
Woolard said the PAT program empowers families, not enables. It teaches them to fish instead of giving them a fish.
She described the families as very humble.
“They’ve finally raised their hands and said, ‘I need help. I can’t do this alone’,” Woolard said.
Rosetta Tucker started the program in 2007 when her daughter, Yasmine, was four weeks old. She learned of the partnership from the health department and has recommended PAT to other parents. She said Beaufort County could use more programs like it.
“They’ve been real good to me. I learned to be a better parent for my child. I’ve got a precious daughter that I truly love, even though it gets hard sometimes,” said Tucker, a single parent. “I really am thankful for them because if it wasn’t for them, I don’t know where I’d be.”
Forty of the partnership’s 65 PAT children had angels on the tree. Groups like the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree and Toys for Tots were already tending to the others.
“We’ve only had 17 angels adopted,” said Keech.
Out of the 40 angels, 23 are still on the tree. The partnership cross-references the children with those participating in other toy drives to avoid double dipping.
Unlike the other organizations, many of these families will allow those who sponsor their angels to deliver the gifts to their homes and meet the little ones they help.
None have asked for help with Christmas presents and were surprised when the partnership asked for wish lists.
“They’re just very grateful people. They don’t have a sense of entitlement. The fact that we did this was unexpected,” Keech said.
For those who do not like to shop, the partnership will do the shopping. They accept tax-deductible donations for the PAT angel tree.
For many of the angels, everything on their wish lists may be purchased for less than $50.
“We don’t expect people to go overboard because it sets a precedent for other years,” Keech said.
“Some are siblings and you wouldn’t want one to get $250 in presents and the other $25,” added Woolard.
For those who hate to shop, donations may be sent to the Beaufort/Hyde Partnership (specify that the check is for the PAT angel tree).
Beaufort/Hyde Partnership for Children is located at 979 Washington Square Mall. Applications will be accepted today through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, call 975-4647.