February 13, 2009


McGraw Resource Center helping families

The center, which opened in January, offers programs on nutrition, health and child care

CenterJoe McIntyre/staff photographer
McGraw Family Resource Center coordinator Pam Bellrose helps Brooke Irish, 6, make a “bagel face” using vegetables as the facial features Wednesday as Mason Bellrose, 7, left, enjoys his creation while at McGraw Elementary School.

Staff Reporter

McGRAW — Lucas Farris put vegetables onto a plain bagel and cream cheese to create a face, while his mother told him how yummy it could be.
Tomatoes, carrots, bean sprouts and cucumber slices are good for you, Candy Farris said.
The 3-year-old listened a little, then turned to his red fire engine, a transformer toy that turned into a robot figure. Around him in a former classroom at McGraw Elementary School, 10 other children and their parents assembled faces on bagels with their parents’ help.
Pam Bellrose watched and smiled. This was the weekly Pretend Soup program at the Cortland County CAPCO Family Resource Center, which opened in January.
“This is a big turnout,” said Bellrose, the center’s director. “It’s been picking up in attendance.”
The center, sponsored by the county and the McGraw Central Schools, offers families help with tax preparation, health care, nutrition and child care.
The room contains toys, art supplies and books.
Head Start previously occupied the room. Bellrose said that agency moved its center to Cortland.
The weekly one-hour Pretend Soup event is named after the book ‘Pretend Soup,” a collection of recipes for children written by children and gathered by a teacher.
“This is my first one,” said McGraw resident Kristine Stevens, who came with her daughters Melynna, 4, and Shaylea, 5. “This is a good thing for us to do together. I plan to come to this again.”
Their food faces done and lessons about healthy eating passed along — Bellrose hoped — the children made Valentine’s Day designs out of pink and red paper.
Bellrose said the center’s programs include tax preparation by volunteers with Vita for families whose incomes make them eligible; a toddler enrichment program for 4-year-olds that shows them what kindergarten will be like the next year; play period for toddlers every Wednesday morning; parents reading to children one night a month; and health care aid from Fidelis from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. on Wednesdays.
A breast-feeding support group meets there on the fourth Tuesday of every month, sponsored by WIC.
The center will host a talk about how to become a child care provider at 5:30 p.m. on Feb. 25.
Bellrose said CAPCO will present a program about home weatherization on Feb. 24. The center also has applications for the Home Energy Assistance Program.
Bellrose is talking to the people who manage the United Methodist Church’s food pantry about having a food preparation class there.
She also has been talking to the Village Board about planning summer programs for children, perhaps at the village recreation center.


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