Vestal 'Grandma Wannabee' helps Mom's House bridge education for kids, single parents
Laura Kallen of Vestal is a self-described “Grandma Wannabee” who enjoys doing whatever she can to support the children who attend daycare at Mom’s House.
“I love seeing the kids and working with the kids and playing with the kids,” she said. “It’s a wonderful, wonderful program.”
Since 2018, Kallen has been a volunteer at Mom’s House in Johnson City. Mom’s House provides free, licensed daycare to single parents so they can complete their education. In return, parents are required to give two hours of service to Mom’s House every week and six hours of fundraising per semester.
The Johnson City Mom’s House is one of seven Mom’s Houses located in four states. The program began in Johnstown, Pennsylvania in 1983 and is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, according to the program’s website.
Approximately 30 volunteers help the paid staff to support the children and the program. Mom’s House relies on volunteers to help with everything from childcare to greeting visitors at the front desk, said Kristine Cunningham, the executive director for Mom’s House.
“Our volunteers are instrumental in our ability to run our program,” Cunningham said. “The childcare volunteers are critical because they give us the ability to provide very individualized attention to the children and really support their needs. The front office volunteers ensure that there is always a friendly face at the desk when clients and visitors come to the door. Our special project and fundraising volunteers enable us to work within our budget and put on fantastic events while utilizing their connections and expertise to make the event better.”
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Kallen is one of the agency’s most dedicated volunteers, Cunningham said.
“She is very kind and caring, takes her volunteer position seriously and is willing to help out where needed,” Cunningham said of Kallen. “Laura is a fantastic volunteer! She’s dedicated to our mission, works well with staff, is very helpful with the children, always knows exactly what to do with the children, will fill in wherever needed and is very flexible.”
Kallen said she’s happy to help Mom’s House wherever she’s needed. She started volunteering there in 2018 after retiring from a career as a probation officer for Broome County. She wanted to find some way to help others.
“I was looking for something to do, something that was meaningful,” she said.
So she turned to Mom’s House. She helps teachers in the preschool classrooms there.
“Whatever the teachers need me to do, I am happy to do,” she said.
That could mean helping a child learn letters, numbers and shapes; assisting a little one with zipping his or her coat or getting down on the carpet to read to or play with a child. She does whatever she can to help the children succeed in preschool, she said.
“I feel like I get a really good workout,” Kallen said. “It keeps me energized. I feel like I am helping.”
Kallen volunteers three half days per week at Mom’s House and enjoys every minute of it.
“I’m very tired at the end of the day,” she said. “But it’s so satisfying. I love it.”
More about Laura Kallen and Mom's House
Family: One grown daughter
Career: Retired Broome County Probation Officer
How to Help: To volunteer, call Kristine at 607-644-9972 ext.1; email Kristine at email@example.com; or fill out a volunteer application on the website: momshouseny.org.
This article originally appeared on Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin: Mom's House in Johnson City provides childcare to single parents