The mission of the Waupaca Family Resource Center is a simple one.
“The purpose of the family resource center is to provide quality educational programs for everyone in the community,” said Kasey Kaeperick.
Kaeperick is a Waupaca County Healthy Beginnings case manager and the chairman of Prevent Child Abuse Waupaca.
He is among those who meet each month to discuss and plan what programs to offer for families.
All of the classes offered at the Waupaca Family Resource Center are free, thanks to the support the center receives from a local, non-profit organization.
Those who lead the classes volunteer their time.
In addition, child care is provided for children ages 2 and up.
“We’re trying to eliminate barriers for people with different classes and different presenters,” Kaeperick said. “One big barrier is the stigma of what we are. That is changing.”
Classes have been offered since 1995, and Mandy Zastrow, coordinator of the center, said the fact that the classes are free seems to have resulted in a stereotype about the center.
Some mistakenly believe the classes are not open to all members of the community.
Those involved in the center are out to change that stereotype.
“New parents, grandparents, educators – we want them to know they can come,” Kaeperick said.
As word about the center and what it has to offer spreads, they have begun to see more people attend their classes.
“The representation of people attending the classes is different than in the past. They are more interactive. Everyone is participating,” said Jenni Boelter, a Waupaca County Early Intervention specialist who also helps plan the schedule of programs at the center.
Kaeperick said they like to offer a mix of programs.
Caregivers of children are able to interact and socialize with other parents and grandparents.
In addition, some of the programs are designed for parents to attend with their children.
Two examples are the Cooking with Kids and Music and Movement classes, which quickly fill up whenever they are offered.
“Parents are bombarded with so many messages today,” Kaeperick said. “Cooking with Kids is about bringing a positive experience with your kids, about having fun with them. I think a lot of our classes can help with that.”
He said the professionals, who lead the classes, show how it can be fun and how it can be a team effort.
“I think you learn something when you least expect it,” Zastrow said. “Regardless of your educational background and when you have been through, there are new lessons or refreshers.”
The Waupaca Family Resource Center is located at 1310 Royalton St., in space inside the Pregnancy Information Center.
Donations keep the family resource center running.
“We want to be a resource center for the community,” Kaeperick said. “Don’t be afraid to use us. We’re not judging or placing our values on you. We’re here to offer you education.”
On Saturday, Dec. 1, the family resource center is offering a free, family event at the Waupaca Wood Mall.
The event will be held held from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and will include the opportunity for children to have their picture taken with Santa Claus, receive a free picture and participate in craft making, cookie decorating, story time and games.
Those interested in supporting or sponsoring a class may contact Zastrow at 715-256-1621, email her at WaupacaFRC@hotmail.com and “like them” on their Facebook page.
Kaeperick said they all have the same goal – to provide educational tools for families and support them.
“We’re showing families that we’re all in this together and there are quality, educational programs,” he said.