Long-time supporters like Ann and Bill Findlay sustain our work; they have seen first-hand the difference our services can make for families. In the mid-1990s, health care professionals and educators in St. Croix County began to recognize a need for increased support to families with young children. A Public Health needs assessment pointed to a need for services for moms experiencing high-risk pregnancies and a general lack of programs providing parenting support. A coalition was formed that ultimately led to the formation of the Family Resource Center in 1998.
Ann Findlay, former OB nurse manager of the Baldwin Area Medical Center, now known as Western Wisconsin Health, was involved with the needs assessment as part of the ‘perinatal work group.’ For Ann, sharing information with families about developmental stages was a natural extension of the prenatal instruction she provided. Over the years, Ann diligently promoted information about child development by enlisting the help of the hospital auxiliary to mail out UW-Extension’s monthly parenting newsletters to patients. As time went on these newsletters became an online resource for parents.
The hospital first partnered with the Family Resource Center in 2005. A parent educator was available to talk to families when they returned to the hospital for newborn hearing screenings, and invited parents to participate in ‘Baby & Me’ – a new group for parents with infants. Ann greatly appreciated having parent educators as a resource for families, stating, “with short hospital stays, the nursing staff only had time to focus on maternal and newborn physical care and early parental bonding; we didn’t have time to focus on in-depth parenting.” She believes parents’ understanding of the stages of development and being able to understand their child’s cues helps provide a foundation for lifelong health and is key to the prevention of child abuse.
Ann and husband Bill have been regular attendees of events put on in support of the Family Resource Center through the years, such as the annual wine tasting and Reach for the Stars gala. Bill was invited to join the Board of Directors in 2014, and was glad to accept the new role. “It’s been a good culmination of my years serving on the St. Croix Central school board,” said Bill. “I appreciate the interest of our organization in collaborating with other agencies, and the attention to research.”
In addition to their commitment to supporting families in the community through their own acts of service, the Findlay’s have been generous in opening their home for board and donor events. According to Aaron Mork, Board President, “No one draws a crowd better than Bill and Ann. They have such a unique ability to make everyone feel welcomed and at home. Both have proven to be strong advocates of the Family Resource Center through the years.”