July-August 2020
First Connections Quarterly Newsletter
We are pleased to announce Deborah Werneburg as the new Program Director/CFCE Coordinator! Debbie brings strong leadership and management skills from her ten+ years in the non-profit sector, which included serving as Program Director for domestic violence support services at Hagar's Sisters and Director of Ultrasound Services for community based pregnancy centers in CT. She has a passion for promoting healthy relationships and strong families through education, advocacy and support. Debbie and her husband live in Acton and have four young adult sons. Please join us in welcoming Deborah!

Thank you for your Generosity!

Many friends of Acton-Boxborough United Way and others donated diapers to First Connections' newly established diaper pantry which enabled many families facing difficult financial situations during Covid-19 to stretch their dollars by receiving diapers from First Connections and the Acton Food Pantry. Special thanks to Deb Verner who coordinated the drop-offs, and Karen Yantosca, Zana Cranmer, Meghan Beaulieu, Julie Lonardo, Alissa Kugler, Tina Leung, Kathleen Iglesias, Kara Osselmann Chai,  Amy Briggs,   Natalie Sullivan, and Danielle Adler  for donating diapers or gift cards for diapers .  

Thank You to Rian Stockbower for his $525 donation this spring.
Thanks to Acton Women's Clulb for their $500 donation.
Thank you to Trinitarian Congregational Church (Concord) for their donation of $2,000!
Thanks to Concord-Carlisle Community Chest for their $5,000 grant!
Choosing a preschool or daycare?
Want to know how to talk to your kids about feelings or race?
Need some tips on transitioning your child from one activity to another?
Check out Ellie's Blog at this link!

Our Annual Free & Low Cost Things To Do List 
is being sent out on a weekly basis this summer due to Covid-19 restrictions affecting most of the activities that are usually included. We are striving to find interactive fun things to keep you busy this summer despite the world having unimaginably changed this spring!

Multilingual 1-2-3 Grow!
This is a video series where pediatricians talk about tracking your child's developmental milestones and signs of concern. There are also brochures that list developmental milestones for many ages. Both the videos and the brochures are available in:
English, Spanish, Arabic,
Chinese, Haitian-Creole,
Portuguese, Vietnamese

Children's Stories in 31 Languages
A free way to read children stories in English and 30 other languages!

Pregnancy Loss Support Groups 
Finding Support through Community

July 13 and August 10, 2020
6:30-8:00 p.m.
The group is facilitated by an advanced practice nurse with experience supporting families whose pregnancies have ended unexpectedly or whose infants have died. Individuals are encouraged to contact the facilitator, 
Katie Stockman, NP, before attending, though this is not required. This is a free program currently meeting virtually by zoom group, so please email Katie for the link:
Grandparents Raising
Grandchildren Acton Area Support Group

Come share the rewards and challenges of raising your grandchildren. Learn from other grandparents and experts about legal strategies and resources. Discover ways to relieve stress.Share in the grief of your own children being unable to parent. 
Contact Joe O'Leary for more information,  978-760-0360 or j.j.oleary@comcast.net
Meets July 21 virtually 

Statewide Groups

The Mass. Commission on the Status of Grandparents Raising Grandchildren will also be offering virtual support groups this summer on the following schedule:
1st & 3rd Mondays, 7:30-8:30 pm
1st & 3rd Tuesdays, 9:30-10:30 am
Guest speakers will participate.
Register for the zoom link:

Resources for Family Loss

If you lost a family member during the Covid-19 crisis (or any tragedy) and are looking for resources to help your child and family through the grief process, please see the list of agencies and organization that provide helpful services on our website under the At A Glance box https://jri.org/services/foster-adoption-ecs/first-connection
These regional programs provide age-appropriate groups, counseling services, and special remembrance events around holidays for children age 3 and up and their parents or caregivers. 
July 13 thru August 21, 2020

Our State funding supports free registration for families living in Acton, Bedford, Boxboro, Carlisle, Concord, Harvard, Hanscom AFB, Lincoln, Littleton, Maynard, Sudbury, and Westford.  Registration is required for all groups by emailing Linda at lmatthews@jri.org.  

Families may sign up for one playgroup - choose the age group for the child who is most interested in the online playgroup format and younger/older siblings are welcome to also join in.

6-Week Virtual Playgroups
Monday at 10:00: Multilingual Families ages 1 1/2-5, siblings welcome,
     Yu Song and Ellie will facilitate the Monday group!
Tuesday at 10:00: Multilingual Families ages 4-6 older siblings welcome
Wednesday at 11:00: 3 and 4 Year Olds
Thursdays at 10:00: 2 Year Olds
Fridays at 10:00: 1 Year Olds
Fridays at 11:00:  4 and 5 Year Olds who will be entering Kindergarten         in September 2020

In-Person Outdoor Groups
We were initially hopeful that we would be able to hold outdoor in-person playgroups this summer, but on reading the current guidelines for group gatherings we found that the groups would have to be very small. Since we are a parent & child program we would only be able to register a maximum of 4 families per group. Requirements for hand washing and pre-screening participants would also have been difficult. We have chosen to be able to include more families using the virtual format for summer. We want to see all of you in person very much but the health and safety of our families and staff is always our first priority.

Facebook Live! Wednesdays at 10:00
No registration is required for Facebook Live on Wednesdays at 10:00. You do not need a Facebook account to participate in this program and it is open to everyone.  https://www.facebook.com/firstconnections/

Storytime Videos with Activities
If you are not already on the email list to receive notification of when a new storytime video is posted to You Tube and would like to be, email Ellie: espringer@jri.org. This list will also receive information via email on activities that coordinate with the stories.
Our new parent programs receive supplemental funding in addition to our State grant and are therefore free and open to families from all towns. All programs are currently being held virtually via Zoom link. 

Ongoing New Mothers Group - Wednesdays 1-2:30
Any mother with a baby newborn through 4 months is welcome to attend this weekly support group. Open discussion format is a forum for you to share experiences and resources, connect with other new mothers, and seek guidance about any concerns you might have. No registration required, all feeding methods welcome. Facilitated by Mary Beilman, Certified Lactation Counselor (email for link: mbeilman@jri.org)   WILL NOT MEET JULY 1

Summer Group for Parents & Their Babies 5-11 Months
As your babies move out of the newborn stage, begin to move around, and start eating a wider variety of foods, you may have different questions than parents who are in the 4th trimester. Join Mary Beilman for this group being held from from July 15 to August 19. Registration required for the zoom link: lmatthews@jri.org
Meets on Wednesdays, 10:00-11:00 
E motional Well Being After Baby Group 
For moms or dads with a baby 0-12 months
Emotional challenges are the most common complication of pregnancy and childbirth, yet parents often feel isolated and ashamed if they are struggling. Moms and dads experiencing anxiety or depression, or who are feeling overwhelmed in the postpartum year can come together for this supportive, nonjudgmental, confidential group to share stories and learn from each other. While this is an ongoing, weekly group, before attending for the first time please contact the facilitator, Heather O'Brien, LICSW, hobrien@jri.org, and she will send you the link. 
Meets Every Thursday, 10-11:30. WILL NOT MEET JULY 2 & 9
New Dads Group - One Tuesday per Month
Our new dads group allows dads to make connections with other fathers, ask questions, exchange tips, and share their experiences of parenthood and all the changes that come with it. Fathers are welcome to attend with or without babies, most of whom are 0-24 months. Facilitated by Heather O'Brien, LICSW. Email hobrien@j ri.org to receive the connecting link and a monthly reminder.
Meets Tuesdays, July 14 and August 11,  7-8:30 pm
Working Parents Group

Saturdays, July 11 and August 15
9:30-11:00 a.m.
Currently being held via Zoom

This group is for first-time parents who are working full time,  have a baby under 24 months, and are unable to attend a weekday parents' group. It is an opportunity to connect with other parents who are maki ng the transition to man aging home life with  work life while juggling many new responsibilities and stressors. The summer group will be facilitated by Emily Lindblad, a postpartum doula, newborn care specialist, and CPR instructor with extensive experience working with families who have premature infants, NICU infants, and those who may be juggling breast/bottle/pumping feedings. The group is now welcoming new members. Please email lmatthews@jri.org to register.

Community Resource
If you are interested in a virtual weekly Saturday group there will be one offered by The Loved Child. Parents & Infants Community Group: The 4th Trimester will run from July 11-August 15 from 1:30-2:45 for parents with babies 0-6 months. Cost to register: $145, www.thelovedchild.net
Family Fun Activities Partnership


If you'd like to pick up a copy of the book in a "Drive-by," Ellie will be handing them out from 10-11:00 on Tuesday, July 7. Kids don't have to wear a mask, but everyone should stay in your car. She'd love to see you "live & in person!"