45th Anniversary Celebration: Laugh Lounge 45 with Mike Birbiglia

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Looking for a fun way to support Cope in 2017? Attend our 45th anniversary celebration, Laugh Lounge 45¸ on May 13th.

For 45 years, Cope Family Center and Aldea Children & Family Services have worked together to provide essential parenting, family support and mental health services for thousands of Napa Valley families. The two nonprofits are collaborating once again in a joint 45th anniversary celebration that’s guaranteed to be a memorable evening. Thanks to presenting sponsor Nova Group, Inc., comedian, writer, actor and director Mike Birbiglia will headline at the Napa Valley Performing Arts Center at the Lincoln Theater on May 13th, 2017 at Laugh Lounge 45, a benefit show celebrating two Napa nonprofits’ 45 years of service.

This memorable evening will kick off with an exclusive VIP Reception, dinner and auction, followed by a hilarious comedy show with Mike Birbiglia. Following the show, guests have the opportunity to attend the Laugh Lounge 45 After Party. The after party will include DJ Jake Lake, dancing, Napa Valley wines, and cocktails. For more information about Laugh Lounge 45 and the After Party, visit www.tinyurl.com/LaughLounge45. General show tickets begin at $65; VIP dinner and show tickets begin at $250. All proceeds will benefit Aldea and Cope.

Birbiglia is known for his one-of-a-kind storytelling style in the world of standup comedy. Time Magazine calls him “master of the personal, embarrassing tale,” and The New York Times describes him as a “supremely enjoyable monologist.” Birbiglia has been critically acclaimed for numerous shows including “My Secret Public Journal Live,” “My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend,” and his most recent show, “Thank God for Jokes.” He can also be seen as Danny Pearson in Orange is the New Black, as well as Amy Schumer’s Trainwreck, The Fault in Our Stars. See Birbiglia online at www.birbigs.com and at twitter.com/Birbigs.

Laugh Lounge 45 is the first joint anniversary celebration and fundraiser for the two Napa-based nonprofit organizations. Founded in 1972, both agencies began working to address the growing need for child abuse prevention and mental health services in the Napa Valley. Although much has changed over the last 45 years, both agencies continue to work together to better support their communities’ needs, serving over 10,000 families annually.

“The partnership between Aldea and Cope makes sense because we serve many of the same clients but offer complimentary services,” Aldea Executive Director Mark Bontrager notes. “Both agencies want to ensure families in our community are healthy and strong,” he continued. Joelle Gallagher, Executive Director of Cope, agrees adding, “What better way to celebrate 45 years of collaboration and improving the lives of those in our community than with incredible Napa Valley food and wine, friends and laughter?”

A Tale of Christmas Cheer

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Your support in 2016 enabled Cope to host a special holiday party for the children and families we serve!  Our AmeriCorps team member, Carina, gave this heartwarming description of that day…

“The holiday party was free for children and their families in the community. Healthy food and different activities such as, face painting, cookie decorating, and arts and crafts were available so that families could spend time bonding and creating memories. Even the big man himself “Santa Claus” made an appearance! The children and their families were eager to take photos with him. Overall the event was a huge success with over 150 attending!

I was at the arts and crafts station; it was amazing creating art with all the children and families that stopped by. Everyone was excited and happy to be there. It felt so warm and welcoming. Many of the families come to Cope in the midst of a crisis, but on that night there were no tears or fears. For that moment there was only joy, laughter and the holiday spirit that brings the community together.

“Many families come to Cope in the midst of a crisis, but on that night, there were no tears or fears. For that moment there was only joy, laughter and the holiday spirit that brings the community together.”

Parents and caregivers were given easy craft ideas that they could do at home with the materials they already have. They were so eager to bond with their kids and get creative. I am so grateful for the opportunity to be part of the memories and special moments that were created that day. ”

– Carina

Times Change, Cope Remains

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Two-thousand and seventeen is the beginning of Cope Family Center’s 45th year of service to the Napa community. In 1972, a child died at the hands of a parent, prompting a group of community members to organize to prevent another tragedy by supporting parents. At that time, Richard Nixon was our President, and our nation was facing the biggest political scandal in modern times, namely, the start of Watergate. The average price of a home in California was $28,810 and the Volkswagen Beetle became the most popular car ever sold.

Much has changed since our inception. In 1972, HP introduced the first scientific handheld calculator for $395. Atari introduced Pong. Remember that? The first video game bounced a ball back and forth across your TV screen in a perpetual game of table tennis. Today, we carry smartphones. We shop, communicate, coordinate, and compulsively connect with family, friends, co-workers, and strangers all over the globe.

In 45 years, many things have stayed the same. Parents struggle raising their children. Families live in poverty and have trouble putting food on the table and a roof over their heads. Women still don’t receive wages equal to their male counterparts, and people of color and those who identify as LGBTQ suffer the ignorance of racism and homophobia.

At Cope, we have never wavered in our commitment to protecting the most vulnerable among us, especially our children. Just as in 1972, we provide a listening ear, a supportive shoulder, and a hand up to parents, helping them build upon their strong commitment to their families. How do we do this? The old-fashioned way, by creating trusting, nurturing relationships that hold individuals in a safe, nonjudgmental space, where they can grow into the best version of themselves.

In the spirit of this holiday season, I want to thank you, our most ardent supporters. Now, more than ever, we must coalesce as a community to create a web of support for our families and children. I am confident that together we can ensure that the Cope spirit will live on in the hearts and minds of the children whose lives we touch today.

Happy Holidays,

Joelle Gallagher, Cope Executive Director

 

Bridging the Gap Between Children’s Self-Reliance and Safety

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The other day, a friend of mine (I’ll call her Kate) and her eight-year-old son (I’ll call him Matt) stopped by the library to drop off a book. Windows down, Matt decided he wanted to wait for mom in the car.

When Kate returned from the library, she found a woman, parked, blocking her exit from the parking space. Her car window was rolled up and she was on the phone. Kate waved to the driver; however, the woman would not make eye contact and continued talking on the phone. Finally she drove away.

Shortly after Kate returned home, two police officers arrived. One officer explained that the police had been called by a woman who said that a child was left in a car in the library parking lot. Kate and the officer had a discussion and the officer explained that they regularly receive calls from people who want to “police” their neighbors, but will not talk to them directly.

This story is a great starting point for a discussion about what we can do as community members to be “good neighbors.” The woman in the car could have opted to “hang out” for a few minutes, ask the child if he was okay, and let the parent know, when she returned, that she was there to be on the “lookout” for her child. This shows empathy and compassion and also gives the parent the opportunity to become aware of the surrounding neighborhood through the eyes of another.

While it is critical that we call authorities if we see a child in imminent danger, it is also important to respond to events in a way that is helpful, safe, and compassionate toward families. This was a missed opportunity to make a positive connection.

This story also brings up questions that continue to perplex most communities. How do we help our children learn to be self-reliant, while also keeping them safe? All 10-year-olds are not identical; they mature at different rates and are ready for independent experiences at different times. Forty years ago, 90% of school children walked to school; that number is now 10%. In addition to exacerbating our epidemic of childhood obesity, we have also lost one of the hallmarks of developing autonomy as a child. We also struggle with the question of how old should a child be before she is left at home alone? Should I let Jane walk to the park alone or with a friend? Can Joey ride his bike to the neighborhood grocery store?

These are important discussions for us to have. As adults, it is our job to protect our children while giving them the space to become self-sufficient.

Back to Kate’s story, I checked in with her later and she happily reported that the police officers handled the situation with professionalism and understanding. They were, however, very unhappy with the woman who blocked her car in the parking lot, and said they would be discussing the inappropriateness of this with the driver.

— Joelle Gallagher, Cope Executive Director