Letter from our Executive Director
Hello. I’m Melanie and Family Village was my vision, although I’m always quick to point out that I think in some shape or form its the vision of most parents today. The nature of our modern culture, being individual-based and less community or village-based, makes parenting a challenge at best and torturous at worst. Our parents and extended family rarely live near us or are available to support our childcare needs. Our jobs are requiring our availability to answer emails, problem-solve and preplan outside of the traditional 9-5 workday and that seeps into our family (and our sleep) time. The astronomical cost of living puts intense pressure on us to both make exponentially more money while also cut down on expenses that might otherwise provide a bit of ease in our lives. Then throw in the pressures of making the right choices amongst a plethora of parenting styles, education and healthcare options as well as the constant barrage of shaming and guilting and fear-mongering and gloating that occurs on our social and news media platforms…its enough to drive us nuts. And nuts is how we feel much of the time. (Well, I can only speak for myself on that one...)
The vision of Family Village came to me when I was in a particular crises time in my family’s life. My husband and I were fairly new to Longmont, raising our then 3 year old daughter and newborn son. We didn’t yet have an established village of support and we were struggling deeply as we had just moved my mom from Seattle to live with us as she was fighting a losing battle with Stage 4 cancer. We wanted to make the most of our limited time with her and also to take on the caretaking responsibilities so she wouldn’t have to manage her health on her own any longer. But that meant running to and from the chemotherapy ward and ER in Aurora, cooking and feeding her whatever her nausea could tolerate and slowly saying goodbye to her. All with my babies in tow.
I became broken and lost. And then furious. Furious that it was all harder than it should have been. Furious to be a part of a culture that led to such isolation. And such lacking resources, especially in times of crisis, for parents of young children. I just kept dreaming about having a place to show up in the midst of a meltdown (mine or my children’s,) hand over my kids to someone else’s care so I could just weep. Or nap. Or scream. Or just have a good chat with someone willing to listen.
My hot anger sparked a flame of commitment to actually do something. To turn my fantasy into a reality. And thus, Family Village was born.
We chose to build as a cooperative model because it became clear that some of what those of us parents needed most was a sense of responsibility for something bigger than our own families. That this business could actually be a place that could not only nourish its members but could be nourished itself by the rich, diverse and valuable talents of those who walk through its doors. So making members also the owners made perfect sense. And fit our belief that we are so much more powerful when we do things together.
In the year since our inception, Family Village has become a home away from home, a refuge and a beacon of hope for so many of our members. Our new home at St Stephens church provides so much more potential to grow and offer more programming options. We are also working to evolve the Village even further by not just focusing on parents themselves as members, but to make it a more true Village by involving our elders. We recognize that many of us don’t have parents any longer or at least none that we can see or depend on regularly. And we yearn to have more elder and grandparent-like figures in our kids’ lives. And elders may yearn to be amongst the younger generation, sharing life lessons and passing on their priceless treasures of wisdom and experience. And our Village is not complete without all the layers of generational diversity.
I am very confident that this is just the beginning for Family Village. I believe we are answering a deep call for connection that we’ve lost culturally. I believe we are helping moms to say “YES” to their own needs. I believe we are showing our children that life is about togetherness and not about having or doing it all. I believe we are letting the world know that we’re so completely over the idea that we don’t need one another. Because we do. My pain is your pain. Your pain is our pain. And our triumph is OUR triumph. And this little Village is triumphantly here, awaiting your arrival and ready to share the load and the love.
Please stop by and meet our Villagers and see if Family Village can help take a bit of the load off of your shoulders. These are trying times. But we are resilient and we are powerful and we are so very capable of meeting these times with love and togetherness and joy. And this little Village has the heart and the space for it all.
With love and gratitude,