JAY — Regional School Unit 73 counselors and social workers will hold the first Coffee Talk Friday, Jan. 14, at Lafleur’s Restaurant.

Parents, guardians, and family members are invited to gather in the restaurant’s banquet room for free coffee and muffins from 7:30 to 8:45 a.m.

The goal of the program is to build community among parents, support for each other, Kristy Labonte, social worker at Spruce Mountain High School said Monday, Jan. 10.

“The first couple times we want to build support, answer questions, build connections, be a place where the community can be there for each other,” she said. Community resources will also be available, she noted.

The talks are being organized by Jennifer Stone, social worker at the elementary school, and Catherine Siggins, LSW at the middle school.

Later Monday Stone said Siggins has been in the district for a number of years and dreamed of this.

“We’ve offered some parent workshops, I was thinking of after school with pizza,” Stone said. “Catherine suggested doing it in the morning when parents are already in their cars, having dropped children off at school.” Holding it off (school) grounds might be more comfortable for some, she noted. Lafleur’s has offered a discount and the district will pay for the expense, she added.

“We’re grateful for Lafleur’s, the support of the superintendent, administrators,” Stone said. “We are leaving our buildings, the children we work with to do this. The foundation starts with the family.”

The hope is to keep the Coffee Talks on the second and fourth Friday of every month, keep them consistent, Stone said. Reminders will be sent out beforehand and it is hoped a calendar can be created that will list the topics for each month, she noted.

“The first topic will be self care,” Stone said. “People can gather at 7:30 a.m., ask questions, get help. At 7:45 we will have speakers.”

On Jan. 14 representatives from Care and Comfort will talk about the embedded programs offered to the district such as case management and counseling they offer at the middle and high schools. “We hope to open that up to the other schools,” Stone said. A discussion on parenting techniques for difficult conversations and behavior management is also planned.

“We like to help people struggling with healthcare,” she said. “At the Coffee Talks we can help them fill out paperwork, provide information.

“We want to provide a laidback atmosphere for building friendships, support and collaboration,” Stone said. “People may think they are alone, there may be others going through the same situations. The first time is hard. We hope the environment is welcoming and people will come.”

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