In October 2015, Side-by-Side Associate Director Marla Malone met with a mother of two-year-old triplets (yes, two-year-old triplets!) who had been referred to Side-by-Side for Family Support. This mom was going through the unimaginable, single-handedly caring for two busy toddlers while her third child was hospitalized for organ failure. Needless to say, she was exhausted. Marla returned to the office and collapsed into her chair, overwhelmed for this family and others like them. She sighed, “Wouldn’t it be great if there was a preschool for the families we serve?”
Seattle Children’s Hospital (SCH) offers world-class medical care, Seattle’s Ronald McDonald House (RMH) expertly supports practical needs like housing and food, and the Hutch School provides a specialized K-12 school program designed to meet the needs of families who are visiting Seattle for medical treatment. Dozens of other organizations provide gifts, special experiences, and additional resources, including the various programs of Side-by-Side. However, this family helped us identify one significant area of need which is currently neglected: a preschool tailored for families who have relocated to Seattle for long-term pediatric medical care.
Emboldened by the generous enthusiasm of our supporters, we started to imagine sharing hope with families by starting a Side-by-Side preschool program. We gathered a group of trusted partners and advisors to explore this idea, including staff from RMH, social workers from SCH, educators from the Hutch School, and key SBS volunteers. We’ve researched, surveyed families, scouted locations, and gathered a team to pray and discern with us. We are eager to see what God has in store!
In September 2017, we welcomed the phenomenally talented Kelly Hampton to our staff as the Associate Director for Preschool Services. She brings thoughtful perspective and institutional knowledge as a long-time volunteer at Camp SBS, years of experience as an all-star preschool educator and director, and a joy-filled enthusiasm like you’ve never seen. She is the perfect person to help shape this exciting new endeavor!
In November 2017, we will launch a preschool playgroup on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings in the playroom of the Ronald McDonald House. We are eager to learn more about the unique emotional, medical, and developmental needs of the kids and families we will serve. As time goes on, we plan to expand this playgroup into a more robust preschool program, providing developmentally-appropriate support for preschool kids whose families are dealing with serious illness.
We can’t do this without you. Here are some ways you can get involved today:
- Check out our Amazon Wish List and help us gather all the supplies we need for crafts, games, and educational activities.
- If you have preschool education experience, or if you’d like to help coordinate snacks, plan crafts and activities, or provide administrative support, please contact me at email@example.com.
- If you’d like to stay up-to-date as this project grows and develops, visit sidebyside.org/preschool to join our Preschool Program mailing list.
Thanks for your partnership!