JF&CS Volunteer News Spring 2011

For the past 20 years, the JF&CS Center for Early Relationship Support® (CERS) has helped thousands of new moms and dads on their way to becoming successful parents.

A challenge has been finding the best way to reach young families in need. Throughout the 100 communities we serve in Greater Boston, we want families to know that CERS programs, services, and other resources are only a phone call away.

With the goal of enhancing outreach, the CERS Ambassador initiative was born. A Lauren & Mark Rubin Visiting Moms® volunteer for more than 10 years, Daphne Petri took on the new role of coordinating this effort to "create a sustainable system" to build awareness about CERS and reach more new families in need.

"We are looking at outreach in a more strategic way, to engage friends and supporters, past clients, and current volunteers to share the work of CERS in the community. Our belief is that our services are only as good as reaching the new parents who need them," said Kate Weldon LeBlanc, CERS administrative director.

Until now, referrals for CERS have come from health professionals, community providers, previous clients, and staff among others. Daphne described it as "a friendly and haphazard approach." The new system will train current Rubin Visiting Moms, JF&CS staff, and former clients to make the best use of their community connections, online social networks, and listservs.

"We want to make it quick and easy to become an ambassador and to connect with us and with organizations in their communities," said Daphne.

These new ambassadors will help make CERS services as accessible as possible, by posting on community-based parenting listservs, responding to questions online, sharing information about events, and distributing bookmarks listing CERS services that will be available in places where young families gather: pediatricians' offices, child care centers, preschools, OB/GYN offices, and play spaces.

Daphne, a residential architect from Newton, estimates she's visited one to three moms per year over the last ten years. She describes being a Rubin Visiting Mom as "a chance to connect with a community of people who are doing such good work to serve moms who need a willing and gentle listener.

"The beginning years of a child's life are the most important. Having love and support is the crucial turning point between a child developing healthy attachments or not. Early involvement with families is what we know provides the best possible start for the next generation," she added.

To find out more about becoming a CERS ambassador, contact Daphne Petri at dpetri@jfcsboston.org or 781-693-5652.