I learned about the McNabb Center’s Therapeutic Preschool in 2003 and knew that this was a program my heart longed to help with! At that time it was called the Therapeutic Nursery, but its name was eventually changed to more accurately reflect the age of the children. I started my weekly volunteering here in April of 2003. Mondays soon became my favorite day because I could be a part of something that did such important and valuable work that means so much to me! The Therapeutic Preschool program is designed to help young children who had been or are at risk of being traumatized, abused or neglected. It’s a safe space in which they can process their emotions and learn coping skills, in addition to having a healthy meal, art and play time; and where they can feel the care, support and nurturing of all the adults present – the teachers/child life specialists, interns and other volunteers – all who understand and are equipped to provide this specialized care.
Over the years I have been incredibly blessed and honored to help here! I have been rewarded so much more by my experiences in Preschool than I ever gave. I have laughed with the children, cried privately in my heart for them, prayed for them and have absolutely loved their innocent and honest questions. “Well, I’m not actually 103 years old but that’s a good guess!” And “yes you are so right, my hands are much wrinklier than the other teachers!” “The marks on my legs? Oh no worries! They aren’t boo-boos and they don’t hurt, they are just spider veins that older people get sometimes!” They have filled my heart with so much joy and my spirit has been lifted each week I was there. I have gotten to know and care for so many precious children, help with classroom duties and witness the staff’s devotion and commitment to the kids, their families, and the program.
Within Preschool I knew that each child’s voice was being heard, the hurts of their traumas understood, their unique needs were being addressed and helped and I could see that many times their outward behavior reflected this growth and healing. I saw firsthand how the children thrived and improved as they progressed through the program and their graduation date approached. And I was able to make a personalized fleece blanket for each kiddo when they graduated – just a very small additional way I could offer my heart to them, but one which means so much to me. I have truly felt so grateful that I could be a part of a program that does so much good in helping children who have endured too many struggles at such a young age!
In 2020 with the beginning of the pandemic, McNabb needed to temporarily suspend all its volunteer activities. So my Monday “highlight” stopped, and in the subsequent years I have had other wonderful obligations come up, so I felt I needed to “retire” from my weekly in-classroom volunteer commitments. However, I have been able to continue making a fleece blanket for each child when they graduate, thanks to the Preschool staff (Ms. Clara and now Ms. Abby) who keep me informed of each child’s graduation date and the preference on which kind of blanket the child would like me to make for him or her. This is such a blessing to me that I can still be involved with Preschool and share my heart with the kiddos even though I can’t be there in the classroom!
As you can tell, I miss the children, staff, and being in the classroom – but Preschool and the McNabb Center will always hold a special place in my heart and I am so very grateful to be a part of such a wonderful organization! I have been blessed by all of you!!
-Joanie Scheuer (aka “Ms. Joanie”)