The Nurture Place - Our Story
Authors: Summer Darnell & Angela Gonzalez
The Nurture Place was born as a desire to help children and families heal and thrive. I (Angela) have been married to my husband, Felix, for 25 years and together we have three daughters: two adults and an 11 year old. I worked in the healthcare industry at various positions and organizations for over 15 years. However, in the last 8 years I've focused my time in co-founding and developing best practices of family support for adoptive and foster families. As an adoptive parent, I became passionate about the importance of high quality, trauma-informed, and holistic approaches to aid children and families in healing from complex developmental trauma. I have focused a great majority of my time on learning more about trauma, the brain, and the effects of adverse childhood experiences (ACE’S). The reality is that there is no single approach that works for everyone. In turn, growing a desire to help make accessible a more integrative program for all families is a deep desire for my work. My deepest longing is to link arms with others and together create safe and empathetic environments where each child, adult, and family can be strengthened and thrive.
I (Summer) have been married for 23 years and am mom to three children: one young adult son, a teenage son and an 8 yr old daughter. Prior to The Nurture Place, I worked in business while volunteering in roles focused on women’s empowerment, family growth and poverty alleviation. The relationships and experiences of these volunteer roles led me to study and train in mental health counseling. I have worked in the community as a mental health counselor serving children and families for seven years. I love helping children and families heal and experience healthy, connected relationships. I am deeply passionate about providing access to open and affordable support for all families. Here’s the really cool thing: so much is known and available through research and experience to help all of us gain support in building the safe and secure relationships that help kids grow up physically and emotionally healthy. Much is known about how families build resilience in the face of adversity of all kinds. This has been such powerful, encouraging news for myself as a parent to my three children. I am so excited to collaborate with others in the community to provide a space where children and families can come together to connect, grow and support one another.
We (Angela and Summer) met through our mutual work of supporting families in our community. Through listening to families, both of us began to clearly see that many families of all kinds have unmet needs due to the lack of access to mental health support in our community. One day at a coffee shop, in 2018, we each casually shared our dreams with each other. We were amazed and excited to learn that our individual dreams were much the same: to have a child-focused, accessible and holistic space where children and families can receive early intervention for mental health and family support. As we served families in the last seven years we have experienced a gap in the services available to support the mental health of families. Many times families don’t seek help until problems have been long-standing and have reached a critical level. We longed to provide better solutions through expanding access to various levels of care and family support resources. We started our research on best practices and identified similar family support centers. In March 2019, we even traveled to visit an amazing family practice out of state. We connected with several experts in the field and realized that our “place” needed to be a space of collaboration where many types of community members’ skills, experiences and education play a part in supporting families. Both of us have years of experience working with children and families in different capacities; this is not a new field for us, but it is an integration of modalities and programs serving our community together. Since that first day, several contributors have joined our team who are also passionate about serving families in a holistic way.
“Our dream is to provide a felt- safe space and a wellspring of support in our community for families’ overall wellness. This hub will include a physical space filled with warmth and connectedness for everyone - a child-focused space. Our aim is to provide opportunities for prevention, intervention and healing for families - from pregnant parents to new parents to adoptive parents to grandparents and other caregivers to gain support from one another to promote building relationships and connections within their families.”
Summer & Angela- Initial Dream, 2018
This dream is becoming a reality because of collaborating with community partners, parents, professionals, and volunteers who are joining with us in the vision of accessibility of services for all. We are all striving to help provide child-focused programs, a child-focused safe “place”, and services that nurture the body, mind, and soul--holistic care. We believe that the impact we can make when investing in children is long-lasting, and its ripple effects will go on for generations to come. The need is great, but together we can greatly change the life of a child forever.