Welcome to Lena’s Look-In, a monthly edition featuring Vista’s CEO Lena Wilson, offering her expertise, insight, and personal experience on issues that impact the families and children we serve.
It Takes a Village
September 2, 2022
If you’re a fan of old sayings then you’re well familiar with the phrase- ‘it takes a village.’ I admit some of these sayings don’t hold a lot of meaning for me, but this one has always rung true. Every major accomplishment has taken the efforts of many to achieve. As a mom, I recognize that my parenting achievements were made possible because of the support I received from teachers, school staff, neighbors, family members, and everyone else in my local community that lent a hand at some point. This concept of a village, a supportive structure uplifting the surrounding community, now refers directly to one of Vista Del Mar’s most visible divisions. Introducing Vista Village, formerly known as Home-SAFE.
When the time came to rebrand our Home-SAFE Division, we wanted to ensure the new name aligned to fulfill the mission of the families we support. To come to a consensus, Director Alina Vega and staff organized a meeting with family clients to ask what Home-SAFE means to them. Their response was unanimous. The services they received from Home-SAFE were representative of a village where everyone worked collectively to ensure everyone in that village rises together. It was from this meeting that Vista Village came to be the new name representing a division dedicated to nurturing equitable beginnings for all families.
Since 1973, Vista Village (formally Home-SAFE) has established an innovative service model that combines family support services, mental health services, parent education, counseling, and childcare. Based in Hollywood, Vista Village continues to provide holistic, customized, and supportive care to pregnant women and families with children 0-4 from Santa Monica to Eagle Rock. With the support of Vista Del Mar Child and Family Services and this division’s partnership with Early Head Start, they serve the community with three comprehensive, relationship-based, family-led programs: Early Head Start Childcare Partnership, Early Head Start Home-Based and Childcare.
With the name change comes an expansion of services provided that will go a long way in serving the almost 800,000 Los Angeles residents living in poverty. Vista Village will provide essential Head Start and Childcare services to families experiencing homelessness. Providing these services is made possible through a new partnership with the nonprofit organization Upward Bound House. This partnership works to provide the Home Base Early Head Start program to families without permanent residency. With the definition of homelessness qualified as 3-4 families living in one apartment or not having a home residence, this new partnership fills a vital gap for these families, aiming to strengthen family bonds and help address unique stressors caused by being unhoused. Working in unison with Upward Bound House will intentionally serve this population and help build foundations of growth and development.
Vista Village will continue to grow its presence in the communities it serves by giving voice to those in need of advocacy. Representation and culture matter for the Vista Village team. Comprised of individuals from diverse backgrounds and lived experiences, Vista staff maintains a shared commitment that brings them together to better meets the needs of the families we serve. An example of this commitment to empowering families is the Policy Council, a group within Vista Village Early Head Start Program led by parents and community members who help direct and make decisions about their program. Policy Council members are elected by the parents of children enrolled in the program. Policy Council members help guide the program in planning and decision-making to ensure all program activities are relevant and supportive to their communities. Policy Council members keep Vista Village staff accountable while learning advocacy skills that serve them as parents and community members.
Vista Village Vista’s services provide the support to help families gain employment and stabilize themselves as they build their lives. In its quest to serve more families, Vista Village seeks to find improvements to help more families feel welcomed. To reach out to more communities that may not feel equally represented or supported, including reaching out to the South LA community and making programs accessible, equitable, and relevant to those families.
The Vista Village will continue to grow and make room for any family seeking a supportive environment dedicated to helping them reach their highest potential.
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