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What kind of person comes to work at The Family Place? All kinds! To work at The Family Place you need motivation, compassion, a sense of humor, a sense of social responsibility, an eagerness to learn, and a willingness to be part of a large, caring team. Here are a few profiles of the amazing people that make The Family Place the Upper Valley’s comprehensive resource for parents and children.
Even when Kelly French was working toward her BS in Nursing at Colby-Sawyer College, her focus was on children. “Everything I did – classes, internships – I did with kids in mind,” she says.
This dual passion for nursing and children served her well when she began to work at The Family Place in 2006. “I knew that as a Developmental Educator I could build on the nursing skills I had and still feed that passion,” she says. “People at The Family Place saw my nursing education as an asset.”
Once Kelly earned her nursing license, she added occasional per diem work at Interim Healthcare and Franklin Regional Hospital in Franklin, NH to her schedule to gain more experience and keep her skills current. Meanwhile, The Family Place was working on introducing a nursing component into the Children’s Integrated Services program, which offers home visits to families with young children to ensure a healthy start in early years. In the spring of 2012, Kelly filled the new role of The Family Place nurse and has since been providing information and practical guidance to prenatal and postpartum mothers, infants, and young children.
“I like seeing the change in mothers, especially in terms of their parenting,” says Kelly when asked about what she likes about her job. “I love to see the kids grow and develop, and find new confidence in parents. Our clients don’t often say ‘Thank you,’ but I can see the effect we have on them in subtle ways.”
Kelly also appreciates the flexibility she finds at The Family Place. If her daughter is sick, or Kelly’s childcare is disrupted, she knows that the people she works with will say family comes first. “It feels like family here,” she says.
During the winter of 2012, students from Professor Helen Damon-Moore’s Dartmouth class – titled “Gender, Activism, and the Common Good” – conducted a series of interviews of several TFP staff members. These interviews inspired participants on both sides of the table. Staff members came away with a renewed realization of their own motivation, and the students discovered what deep commitment to a worthy cause can look like.
Families Learning Together Education Coordinator
When Christopher Ashley retired from his position as Principal at White River School, he knew he needed to “do something” to continue engaging individuals in positive life changes. In his role at the school, he focused on student progress one child at a time; as the Families Learning Together Education Coordinator, he approaches each family as a unique case, encouraging them to set goals and improve. Through his work in the Upper Valley over the past 36 years, he has remained focused on this ultimate goal to “help others reach their potential” while also developing a greater understanding of humanity. At The Family Place, he works to prevent the cycle of poverty from repeating itself across generations, and he sees his task as supporting the parents through a range of interpersonal issues. As he said, “In this small community we haven’t lost the ability for individuals to make a difference;” if you want to be effective at making positive change, “you have to stick around long enough.”
Coordinator, Families Learning Together Program
Hailing from Quebec, Canada, Helene Meloche has been a staff member at the Family Place since 2006. She serves primarily as the coordinator for the center’s intensive Families Learning Together Program (FLT) and a case manager for Reach Up—a Vermont-based welfare-to-work program. Having worked for years both as a director of a non-profit, child care center and a practitioner of naturopathic medicine, Helene oversees case managers and organizes the schedule for FLT, coordinates with speakers and community partners, secures grants, and manages recruitment of clients from the Upper Valley. She feels lucky to work in the supportive and compassionate environment of The Family Place and enjoys celebrating the “baby steps” that occur on the way to larger social change. Helene is also a licensed doula and often supports young mothers during childbirth.
319 US Rte 5 South
Norwich, Vermont 05055
52 Olcott Drive
Wilder, Vermont 05055
*Playgroups meet at the Olcott House