Photo and Story by Rick Hiduk
All smiles after a free screening of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at the Dietrich Theater in Tunkhannock on Saturday were (front, center) Richard Iseminger, (clockwise from left) Nancy Iseminger, Kathleen Mills, Emily Iseminger, and Natalie Mills. The Isemingers live in Stevensville, and the Mills girls reside in Black Walnut.
An estimated 140 people converged on the Dietrich Theater in Tunkhannock on Nov. 9 to enjoy a free screening of the 1968 film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, starring Dick Van Dyke and many other well-known actors of the era. The event also served to highlight a trio of organizations that have banded together to provide professional guidance to mothers and families of infants and toddlers at risk.
“We all work very collaboratively together,” said Teresa McCloskey, program manager at Healthy Family Partnership (HFP), which shares office space with Parents as Teachers (PAT) in the Tunkhannock School District administration building. The third partner represented at the Dietrich on Saturday was PA Pre-K Counts, effectively rounding out a list of service providers for prenatal, infant, and early childhood development.
“We all work together to see what program works best for the family,” McCloskey related. The solution might also come down to which agency is in a position to take on new clients. HFP, for example, has a maximum capacity of 72.
“We recently had some graduations,” McCloskey said proudly, “So we have some openings.”
Movie patrons learned about the services that the three organizations offer in a brief presentation by McCloskey and PAT executive director Annette Smith before the film started. Chrissy Kaskiel of Dallas won a basket full of baby supplies as a door prize.
HFP affiliate Nurse Family Partnership is the first service agency in the chain to step up to the plate. While pleased with the early success of the program, which coordinates visits to the homes by a registered nurse for newly pregnant women and through the child’s second birthday, administrators felt that more could be done beyond the two-year benchmark..
“We felt like we were just dropping them from there,” said McCloskey.
That’s where PAT comes in. “Some parents can really use the extra support and appreciate getting additional information.” The home visits continue as PAT associates bring not only useful health and nutrition information to the parents but also activities they can share.
It is the belief of PAT administrators that parents are the first and most influential teachers of their young children, and it is important that they be best equipped to stimulate the minds of their youngsters until professional Pre-K instructors meet up with the children at ages 3 and 4.
Primarily, the agencies have worked together over the last decade or so to close the gaps in the safety net holding children born to mothers who average 19 years in age and who are 89 percent likely to be unmarried. Nurse Family Partnership handles clients in Wyoming and Sullivan Counties.
HFP is celebrating a dozen years of service to the community. The agency held it first anniversary at the Dietrich Theater and enjoyed a screening of The Wizard of Oz.
“We decided to do it again,” McCloskey said of Saturday’s event. She extended gratitude to the theater staff and to executive director Jennifer Jenkins, whom McCloskey said selected the timeless musical for their entertainment.
“Teresa McCloskey and Healthy Family Partnership do such fantastic work for children in Wyoming County, and we were happy to support them with a fun outing at the Dietrich,” Jenkins stated.
For more information about the services offered by HFP and PAT, interested readers may call 570-996-2264.