Family Resource Center St. Croix Valley hosted the Reach for the Stars gala with Caribbean flair on April 30 at the River Falls Golf Club, and despite the chilly, wet weather, the climate among the nearly 250 guests was warm and festive. The event was the organization’s 12th annual, and a finale for Executive Director Patty Draxler, who is set to retire on May 19th. “It has been wonderful to watch this event grow over the years. Each year we have built on the year before,” she said. “It is thrilling to see the level of support for early childhood initiatives grow, and Reach for the Stars plays a very integral part in generating this positive support.”
A highlight of the evening was hearing from participant Tori Isler of Amery, who shared her experiences as a parent and how her family has benefitted from Family Resource Center programs. She spoke briefly about her own childhood, and how her mother worked nights and then left the family when she and her siblings were young. Tori shared that she had wanted to be a mom for as long as she could remember, but specifically aspired to be the type of mom she had never had. When she and her husband had their first child, they were confronted with challenges they did not anticipate. “While he’s an amazing little person, he’s also anxious, timid and sometimes fearful,” Tori related, saying that her son would often scream for prolonged periods until he was 5 or 6 months old.
Tori signed up for Play & Learn after her second child was born. After a period of time, she began home visits as well. “Because my son has a harder time with a lot of things, he made it harder for me to be the kind of mom I wanted to be,” said Tori. “My parent educator gave me some validation that it wasn’t just something I could be doing different or better. Just knowing there was someone else who was helping us look for a solution was such a relief.”
The event program also included a premiere showing of a video produced by University of Wisconsin – River Falls student Kelsey Tyznik, featuring interviews with several Family Resource Center program participants. Board member Mary Sue Ash presented the annual John M. Coughlin Volunteer Award to John Marnell of Hudson. She thanked him for his leadership and vision through his years of service on the Board of Directors and as a member of the Reach for the Stars planning committee. Marnell was instrumental in formalizing Board Member roles and responsibilities, staff succession planning and cultivating new business sponsorship for Reach for the Stars.
Family Resource Center St. Croix Valley wishes to extend sincere appreciation to all businesses and individuals who contributed their support through the event, which raised nearly $60,000 in support of programs for local families.