“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope for the future. – Jeremiah 29:11 (Inspirational and founding verse of Jeremiah’s Place: A relief nursery in Pittsburgh, PA)
How’s your support network? Seriously. How many people do you have in your life that whom you could count on with the things that are most precious to you? How many of these people live close to you? How many of them would drop anything at any moment to come offer you the assistance you need?
Hopefully you have trustworthy, dependable people in your life. But I don’t think you’d be terribly unusual if that list you just made in your head was pretty short. Now imagine you moved to a new city or were recently estranged from your family for one reason or another. It’s not too hard to conceive of yourself in a place where you need help but don’t have anywhere to turn, is it?
Now let’s amp up the intensity of the situation a little bit more. What if you had a young child… or two? What if you had no way of really dealing with an emergency situation of your own because making sure your kids are alright will always be the top priority over and above any other need?
As of April 2014, Pittsburgh now has a good way to address these critical questions. Jeremiah’s Place on the city’s East End is our region’s only crisis nursery that is available 24/7 to care for children six and under when a parent or guardian is in desperate need of help.
What do they do?
Jeremiah’s Place is a temporary helping hand to parents when they need it most. The caring staff members and volunteers provide short-term (up to 72 hours) crisis care for children whose regular caregivers are in a desperate situation.
The facility itself is similar to most day cares. There are separate play areas for babies, toddlers, and big kids. There are spaces for both free play and structured activities. There is a kitchenette where warm, nutritious meals are prepared three times a day. But what is unusual here is that there are also three bedrooms equipped with space for up to twelve children to sleep overnight. Emergencies don’t just happen during business hours, and Jeremiah’s Place acknowledges this by providing overnight care for families in need.
Why do they do it?
Have you ever tried to go to a doctor’s appointment with a two-year-old? What about a job interview with a four-month-old strapped in a carrier? Can you imagine if your furnace broke in the middle of winter and the repair man couldn’t make it until tomorrow afternoon? Really, the list of reasons why a person might need help caring for his children is pretty long. It can even include the need for a few hours respite when a tired mom feels like the stresses of her world are about to push her into the ground.
Since its founding, over 600 children have been cared for at Jeremiah’s Place free of charge. Support staff is on hand to help parents address their emergency situations if they aren’t sure where to turn or who to contact.
Jeremiah’s Place exists because of the recognition that parents are often faced with extremely difficult choices. Knowing that your children are safe, even if it’s just for a few hours, can make facing those choices so much easier.
How can you help?
There are a lot of great ways to help Jeremiah’s Place if this sounds like an organization you’d like to see continue their hard work. Of course financial assistance and volunteer help are crucial. Some other specific needs that were mentioned when I visited recently included: new shoes (of all sizes), clothing for bigger kids (4t and up), gift cards to Giant Eagle or Target so that the staff can meet a specific need for a kid when they come in, and little kid appropriate craft supplies.
Additionally, if you’d like to volunteer but don’t yet have all of your clearances (something you must have when working with children) the staff can also use assistants when they attend events where they look to raise money and awareness for the mission.
To learn more about Jeremiah’s Place, how you can make use of their services, how you can donate, or to find other specific ways in which you can help, please email email@example.com.