Brownsville Community Library

Parents and Pals: Playtime for kids, support for parents

By Mandy Cole
Parents and Pals:  Playtime for kids, support for parents
Attention parents.  Did you know that there is a free once-a-week program designed especially for parents and their kids?  Parents and Pals meets at the Brownsville Rec Center on Tuesday mornings for playtime fun for children up to five years old and their parents (guardians/grandparents).  Kids play in a safe environment while parents can chat about life, exchange ideas about the challenges of raising kids, or share resources. “We have a super relaxed group,” says Sarah Glenn who has been involved with Parents and Pals for 12 years.  “Come and enjoy the opportunity to get out of the house and get to know other parents.  We span all ages of Moms and Dads.”

A typical Parents and Pals Tuesday morning starts at 10:15 with stories at the Brownsville Community Library.  At 10:30 the group wanders up to the Rec Center where plenty of toys, playdough, crafts materials, resource books and more wait downstairs.  “We have a table for crafts projects and sofas and chairs where parents can hang out, plus we have access to the Rec Center gym so the kids can run and play on bad weather days.  On sunny days, we like to walk to the playground in Pioneer Park,” says Sarah.  Often there will be an informational speaker; recently, the dental hygienist from Dr. Kirt Glenn’s office offered information on children’s dental health.  “She had free samples too,” says Sarah. 

Some of the biggest benefits of participating in Parents and Pals are the friendships that grow among the parents and the relationships that build among the kids.  “We all love to march in the Pioneer Picnic Kiddie Parade in June.   Last year we made a quilt for the Picnic quilt show and we sponsor Santa at the Fitness Center at Christmas,” says Sarah.   “My two-year old looks forward to Parents and Pals every week.”

Now a program under Sharing Hands and funded through United Way, Parents and Pals was founded as an independent non-profit in 1987 by Cyndi Anderson and Pete Barron.   “Always at the heart of the program have been the playgroups and the parent-to-parent support,” says Cyndi.   “It was originally called Kids Advocates and we established it as a response to the rising incidence of child abuse in the mid-1980s.  The whole program has evolved over the years and the focus now is strictly on parent support and children’s play.”   Kids Advocates was recognized in those years as extremely innovative.   “We had all sorts of dignitaries visiting, interested in what we were accomplishing.  Governors Neil Goldschmidt and Barbara Roberts visited along with Representative Peter DeFazio,” says Cyndi.

 Around 1990, the program was adopted by Sharing Hands and the name changed to Parents and Pals.  Headquarters for the program has moved from 308 Averill, now a private home; to the Central Linn District Office; and now the Rec Center.   “We had help early on from folks like Prudy Draeger, Martha Tenile, Wade Doerfler, and Sue Smith,” says Cyndi.  “It’s been fascinating to see how Parents and Pals has changed over the last twenty-five years and it’s always been in response to what parents and children most need.   I’m so grateful to Sarah for keeping the program going and helping guide it to what it is today…a wonderful resource for our parents and their children.”  For more information on Parents and Pals, call Sarah Glenn at 541.466.3677 or email: skglenn@dswebnet.com.