Parent Café opens at Renewal Center

Mary George ready to open the Parent Cafe.

By Dennis Coday

Precious Blood Resource Services and Precious Blood Renewal Center are teaming up to help people faced with the challenges (and joys!) of raising children.

The two provincial ministries will be hosting Parent Cafes that are open to anyone who has the responsibility of raising children: parents, grandparents, foster parents, aunts and uncles, even older siblings.

The first Café at Precious Blood Renewal Center is Nov. 5, 12 and 19. Other cafes will be scheduled in the winter and spring.

Participants are being recruited through community channels, local school districts, and social service agencies in the Liberty-Kansas City north area. At the Parent Café, they join in a series of structured, small-group conversations that promote peer-to-peer learning and deep self-reflection.

The small-group conversations are facilitated by leaders who have been trained in the Parent Café protocol and procedures. Childcare is provided, so participants can fully join in the discussions. A meal is also available for families to share before the program begins.

Draws on wisdom of the group

The idea of the café is not to dispense parenting advice, but to promote networking and sharing among new and experienced parents so that solutions can be found in the wisdom of the group, said Denise Murrow, a Precious Blood Companion and director of Precious Blood Resource Services.

Murrow learned of the Parent Café concept through her contacts in the family social services agencies in the area and thought hosting a café at Precious Blood Renewal Center would be an ideal set up.

Precious Blood Resource Services is a ministry of accompaniment, Murrow said, so the idea of accompanying people who raise children through the Parent Café seemed an ideal project to adopt. And the Renewal Center – with its large, beautiful gathering space and kitchen facilities — seemed an ideal place to host a café.

“It’s a way for our two ministries to build bonds in the community, with other social service agencies and with individuals in the community,” Murrow said. “Isn’t that what the New Creation is about?” she asked. “All of us collaborating together?”

Murrow brought the idea to the Renewal Center team, who embraced it with enthusiasm.

“It’s a perfect fit for the mission of the Renewal Center,” explained Lucia Ferrara, Hospitality Director of Precious Blood Renewal Center. “We say we are a safe and sacred place for healing and reconciliation. [The Parent Café] will be for the parents a safe place to express their ideas, concerns and fears about parenting.”

Parents leave cafe ‘renewed’

“They also know that what they say here, stays here. And they know [what they say here] will be accepted,” Ferrara said, “When they leave, they will leave with a renewed spirit because of solidarity with other parents who have gone through the same things.”

“We want families, parents, grandparents to feel welcomed. We want the community to come together for the good of the kids,” said Ferrara, who has completed training to host the café and facilitate table discussions.

Companion Mary George has also completed the Parent Café training and will be working with Murrow and Ferrara to host the cafes at the Renewal Center. “When Denise came to me with the information about Parent Café I felt a calling to ‘Step out, Stand up and Speak clearly about the Precious Blood of Jesus,’ which, as you know, is part of our Companion Vision Statement,” George said.

“Being a part of Parent Café is a way for me to bring hope and renewal to families in my community,” she said.

Ferrara also has a personal reason for welcoming the Parent Cafes. She and her husband, Michael, fostered children in their home for several years. “At that time, we weren’t given any resources that could have helped us out,” she said. Sometimes, they felt isolated and on their own.

No one has to be alone raising children

“I wanted to be part of something that helps parents be aware that others are going through similar things,” Ferrara said. “Every family has its own set of challenges, but [the Parent Café] lets people know they aren’t alone in the experience of raising children.”

George, too, brings past experience to the Parent Café. “I was a Stephen Minister for several years at St. James–Liberty and learned to walk with people who were dealing with difficult life situations,” she said. “A major part of the walk was listening and not judging, which are two of the Parent Café Agreements that are explained at the beginning of each Café.”

Ferrara also likes how the cafes are structured. “We’re not telling people what to do or how to be good parents.”

The Parent Café, she said, “draws on the wisdom that is found in all of us. Finding that wisdom and being able to share it with others — sharing in each other’s wisdom — that’s how the café works.”

Details about the Parent Café can be found here.

If you know someone who might be interested in attending the café, direct them to this webpage to register or to get more information.

If you are interested in a volunteer opportunity with the café, contact Murrow or Ferrara.

The project is supported by the Preschool Development Grant Birth through Five Initiative, from the Office of Child Care, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, awarded to the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

A version of this article also appeared on the website of the Precious Blood Kansas City Province. See Precious Blood Ministries Team up to Support Parents.