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June 2, 2018
Health & Safety Fair

June 12, 2018
Strengthening Families Framework Training

June 14, 2018

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850 W. Sharon Avenue, Suite 6
Houghton, MI 49931
Iola Brubaker, Director
906.482.9353 [fax]


  The Early Childhood Parent Coalition

Parent Liaison Report

August 27, 2012

During these summer months I have been focusing on recruitment for the Parent Coalition. In June we had an ice cream social and a nice turnout. Recruitment is an on-going effort and I’m always looking for more parent support in helping to increase membership.

Our August 23rd, Parent Coalition was very productive and there was a great deal of good discussion. Some of the topics of conversation were the Preschool Scholarships that were given out, potential upcoming changes to the Parent Coalition and Collaborative, surveys, birthing classes, Aspirus Baby Fair, and community needs/programs for families.

Some of the parents are also looking into starting some community projects. We will have more information on that as we map out plans and ideas.
September 20th, is our next scheduled PC meeting from 6-8 pm, at the BHK Houghton Center in Houghton (behind Econo Foods). I’m going to continue our parent challenge; whoever brings in the most friends that are interested in becoming members, will either win one of our nice door prizes, or will win a fun bag for their child(ren).

Heather Poll
Parent Liaison

Parent Liaison Report

May 22, 2012

Copper Country Great Start Bridge Walk

Star Power across the state this year was a great success. Locally, we had over 100 people attend the Star Power Bridge Walk on May 16, 2012. Thank you to all of our sponsors, community partners and volunteers for helping to make our event so successful!

June 28th, 2012 Parent Coalition Meeting

In order to boost members for our Parent Coalition, on June 28th, 2012, the Parent Coalition will be holding an ice cream social. Anyone interested in learning more about early childhood in our community and the Parent Coalition is welcome to attend. The social will be held at the Little Huskies Child Development Center in Houghton (behind the Student Development Center (SDC)) from 6-8 pm. Free childcare and dinner are being provided.

Picnics In the Park

During the months of June, July, and August, the Parent Coalition will be having picnics at some of the various local parks in the area. Our first picnic is scheduled for June 20th, 2012, from 12-1 p.m. at the park on Douglas St., in Houghton. We ask that you bring a small dish to pass but it is not required in order to participate in the picnic. Being that this is at a park, childcare is not being provided and parents are responsible for their own children at the park.

Heather Poll
Parent Liaison

Parent Liaison Report

April 2012

Coming up we have our 4th Annual Great Start Star Power Bridge Walk on May 16th, 2012. Registration begins at 5:30 pm at the Ramada Inn in Hancock. The walk will begin at 6:00 and we will walk to the Chutes and Ladders Park. Once at the park there will be fun activities for children and families to partake in, as well as our popular free ice cream social. During the events there will be free Trolley rides to take people from the park back to the Ramada.

We are currently looking for volunteers for the Bridge Walk to help out with registration, monitor check points along the walk, scoop ice cream, and provide activities at the park. If you are interested in helping us out please contact me via phone: 906-231-0666 or email:

In the past, Star Power has been an event that would take place on the lawn of the State Capitol in Lansing. This year, Star Power is going virtual. Our goal is to have 300 people from the Copper Country sign-up and send a pre-written letter to our legislators addressing the importance of early childhood investments. Please help us reach our goal and reach out to our legislators by going to the following URL, it only takes a minute:

Please mark your calendars: our next Parent Coalition meeting is scheduled for April 30th, from 6-8 pm at the BHK Houghton Center in the first floor conference room. Free childcare and dinner are being provided. Please RSVP if you plan to attend this meeting to ensure we have enough childcare coverage and food.  

Shelly Smith, the GSC Director will be giving a Power Point presentation at this meeting to go over the data that was collected for our Collaborative Community Needs Assessment. Shelly will be doing Focus Groups in Baraga, Houghton, and Keweenaw counties in order to gather community feedback for our Strategic Plan. Please join us at this meeting in order to help us collect your valuable input and to give Shelly a warm welcome. 

Heather Poll
Parent Liaison

Parent Liaison Report

December 2011

"Children are the living messages we send to a time we will not see." Neil Postman

November and December have been busy months and a New Year is almost upon us. At our November Parent Coalition Meeting Shelly Smith (the Copper Country Great Start Collaborative Director) and myself introduced ourselves to Parent Coalition Members. There were a couple of new faces and there was a lot of great conversation and coverage about the Great Start Collaborative; what the Collaborative is about, our goals, and visions, etc.

One of the goals for the Parent Coalition is to recruit more parents and to get more parents involved in the Coalition. One way to try and accomplish these goals is to begin holding mini-sessions that are called Parent Café’s. Parent Café’s are intended to help strengthen families through goals that are set by the parents. The Café’s will be an extension of the Parent Coalition Meetings and I will begin holding them in January, 2012.

In order to create a sense of ownership among parent members for the Coalition, I have designed sign-up sheets that will be used to develop goals and activities. Parents can use these sheets as a way to become more involved with the Coalition. The hope is that this will help the Coalition to actively move forward and to be more effective.

Coming up: Our next Parent Coalition Meeting will be on January 18, 2012 at the BHK Houghton Center (behind Econo Foods). The first Parent Café date/time will be decided at this meeting. A flyer will be sent out in the next couple of weeks with details.

Keep in mind that at the January meeting I will be announcing Star Power and asking parents to collaborate with me over the next few months on the preparations for the Bridge Walk. Star Power will be taking place on Wednesday, May 16th.

Heather Poll
Parent Liaison

Parent Liaison Report

November 2010

I would like to take this opportunity to introduce myself. My name is Heather Poll, and I recently have taken on the position of Parent Liaison with the Copper Country Great Start Collaborative. As you may know, Heather Store held this position since 2009, when Great Start had just begun and she recently resigned to take a position with BHK. Heather did a phenominal job and she will surely be missed.

A little about myself: I have had the pleasure of living in Houghton since 2001. I am originally from dowstate but came to the Upper Peninsula to attend college. My Alma Mater being Finlandia University, where I graduated with a Bachelor of Rural Human Services. After I graduated my husband and I decided to stay in the area and raise our family.

It was through my son that I discovered that I wanted to dedicate myself to the enrichment of children. For the last four years I have worked on the campus of Michigan Technological University at Little Huskies Child Development Center as an Infant/Toddler teacher. Prior to taking a teaching position with Little Huskies, I ran my own home daycare for two years.

With the knowledge and experiences that I have gained through working with children and families, I hope to help bring further awareness about early childhood development to the Copper Country with the Great Start Collaborative Parent Coalition.

I have just barely broken the ice as the Liaison, but I will be meeting with parents and professionals to pick up where Heather Store left off. In addition, I have several ideas that I am excited to share at the first Parent Coalition Meeting that I hope will actuate parent involvement. I am very excited about this new venture and I look forward to meeting and working with the families and professionals in our community.

Heather Poll
Parent Liaison

August 5, 2010

The Copper Country Parent Coalition summer activities have focused on events taking place in our three counties. I attended the Baraga Lake Trout Festival & KBIC Kid’s Fishing Derby in Baraga County. I also participated in the Bridgefest Parade, Strawberry Festival and PastyFest in Houghton County. Plans for the upcoming weeks include attending the Baraga County and Houghton County Fairs. We have been handing out magnets, which highlight the Copper Country Great Start Web Site, at parades and parent events. We have lots of them if any
collaborative members would like to hand them out at their agencies or workplaces.

For the Strawberry Festival we had some wonderful parents leading the way building a float that we had in the parade. Parents worked to paint, design and walk with the float highlighting the Sandbox Party. The Sandbox Party is a non-political, non-partisan entity created by the ECIC to advocate for young children. There is going to be an Early Childhood Convention August 26 in Lansing. We have one family from our Coalition planning to attend so far. More may decide to go as the date for the event gets closer. The Convention will include scheduled speaking time for GOP candidates and others to allow them to share their views on early childhood investment.

The past few months I have also worked on advocacy activities, which included
contacting and interviewing all candidates running for State Senator and State
Representative. During the interview I had the opportunity to share some data on returns of investment in Early Childhood Programs and polling data showing Michigan voters favor candidates who believe in investing early. As part of the summer’s advocacy effort, the Parent Coalition also held a “Connecting Night,” to which all the above mentioned candidates were invited (and Bill Doan attended). Also people from area agencies and organizations who advocate for families and children were invited. We had one attendee from this group despite mine and Emilie’s efforts to get more groups there.

I refocused the meeting to mention to parents that it was up to them to spread the word to the groups to which they are currently affiliated. A pediatrician from Portage Health has now become a member of our PC and shared some insight with the group that we would not have otherwise had. We are very excited to have Dr. Colleen Vallad-Hix on the PC. This Connecting Night Event featured our largest number of participants at a PC meeting to date, 12 parents and 13 kids—whoo hooo. It also helped to reenergize everyone.

We have a Facebook page for the Coalition. We are increasing the number of fans
every day. Even if you do not have a Facebook account, you can view our page, “Copper Country Great Start Collaborative.” A parent created the page for us.

Another main activity the PC is focusing on is recognizing Child-Friendly businesses in the Copper Country. A parent member created the list of criteria and the form to fill out. I would like to have that form available on the web site in the near future. Businesses will need to be nominated for the award by community members and must receive 5 nominations to be considered. The business will be awarded a letter of congratulations along with a window cling to post in their window. We also hope to recognize them in the media.

There will be a Coalition Meeting in Baraga County August 19 at 6:00 @ BHK Center, L’Anse. We will not have a meeting in Houghton in August, but will reconvene in September.

Heather Store
Parent Liaison

June 3, 2010

Since our previous Collaborative meeting, Emilie, Eva and I traveled to Shanty Creek in mid-April for the annual Great Start Conference. We were able to participate in several workshops and to hear speakers on such topics as engaging the business community in Great Start, using social media to promote the GSC and how to empower parents involved with the Collaborative.

During our April Parent Coalition meetings, we discussed some of the activities the Collaborative is working on. I was also able to receive feedback from parents as to the events in which we should participate this summer. In Baraga County parents thought the Lake Trout Festival June 11-12, the KBIC Youth Fishing Derby June 26, and the Pelkie Fair August 7-9. In Houghton/Keweenaw Counties we plan to be in the Bridgefest Parade June 18, to be part of PastyFest in Calumet June 25-26, and participate in the Houghton County Fair August 26-29. The PC will also plan to participate in some of the Fourth of July events in the area.

May 18 & 19 my daughter, Rylie and her friend Brianne, accompanied me to the Star Power event at the Capitol in Lansing. (Rylie and Brianne also provide the childcare for the PC meetings every month.) With the 3,400+ people in attendance for that event, it is thought to be the largest event ever held there. We had the opportunity to speak with Representative Mike Lahti and Senator Mike Prusi. I made sure to thank them both for their support of Early Childhood Programs in the Copper Country. We also attended a session of the House where Mike Lahti introduced all attendees from the Western U.P. It was a worthwhile event and it was enjoyable. It was impressive to see all of the people there in their yellow Star Power shirts sending the same message to their legislators. The House Gallery was filled with "yellow shirts," which made some of the reps. pause to take an obvious scan of the room.

I also worked for the past few weeks on entering data from the parent surveys. I, as well as others, who also entered data from the surveys, noticed some interesting trends contained in the answers. I think we'll all find the data compilation interesting, which will help provide some direction for future GSC and PC activities.

Parent Coalition meetings are planned for this month: June 22 in Baraga County and June 29 for Houghton/Keweenaw Counties.

April 1, 2010

During the February Collaborative Meeting I was in Lansing attending the Parent Leadership Conference. We talked a lot about advocacy strategies we can use moving into the summer months, creating a local White Paper to leave with legislators and heard from highly regarded speakers. We discussed ideas for growing out parent coalitions and how to foster relationships with individual members. The conference was very worthwhile with a ton of information packed into a day and a half.

I have been working on trying to recruit new members to the parent coalition for Houghton/ Keweenaw Counties as well as for Baraga County with some success. Several new members have joined from the Mom's Club in Houghton. More interest is being generated in Baraga County. I have been able to reach out to parents and explain the PCs by attending a Baraga Best Meeting at the Elementary School and a Mini-Fair, which took place during their parent-teacher conferences. Kids were able to visit the Great Start table and work on a craft project while their parents looked at the other exhibits and visited with teachers. Some parents who have not been able to attend some of the meetings have stayed in touch via email, asking questions about meetings and proposing discussion topics.

In January parents participated in a focus group providing input on the content, and layout of our parent surveys and our Great Start web site. Several changed were proposed for both things by the parents and many parents were happy to see their suggested changes implemented. Some of their suggestions for the survey included changing the order of questions, making the survey seem less like a "test", and adding demographic information. Web site suggestions included reformatting the events calendar, including a place to add their own events and adjusting the tab headings.

I had the opportunity to speak at a Parent to Parent Support Group meeting where I presented the Wilder Study information. This month I plan to attend a few of BHK's Fathers to Dads group meetings to present the Parent Coalition information. I will also attend some of BHK's regular center parent meetings. I will also continue to search for other speaking opportunities to promote the PC.

Emilie and I were on "Keep it in the U.P" two weeks ago. I also have a press release ready to send to the Mining Gazette and the L'Anse Sentinel, as well as the area radio stations, hoping to generate more interest and further coverage for the Parent Coalition.

March 25 I was able to attend a progress report meeting of the Great Start Resource Center. March 27 I participated in the Kiwanis Family Fair at the Copper Country Mall. I was able to have the parent survey available for parents to fill out. I also had some goodies for the kids and information about the PCs for parents to take with them. I was able to get several people to sign up to receive more information.

April 14-16, Emilie, Collaborative members, hopefully a parent, and I will travel downstate for the Great Start Annual Conference. I will also travel to Lansing May 19 for the Star Power rally taking place at the capitol. I have been promoting our local Star Power Event with the hope of making it even bigger than last year. Many of our Parent Coalition Members plan to attend the local event.

Our next PC meeting for Baraga County will take place, Tuesday, April 13 at the BHK L'Anse Center; the Houghton/Keweenaw meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, April 20 at the BHK Houghton Center, each starts at 6:00 p.m.

February 4, 2010

Since the last Collaborative meeting, I have been working on refining my annual plan, which outlines activities and events the Parent Coalition will focus on for the year. Additionally, the plan focuses on the things I will do as the Parent Liaison to recruit new members for the Coalition, focus on advocacy, and create visibility for the Coalition. Based on the tasks outlines on the Annual Plan, I have been working with my TA Consultant to create a plan of work. This plan focuses more on the detail of the task and outcomes for each activity. The basis for the plan of work was an assessment of the current Parent Coalition’s strengths and needs. The plan then works to enhance or address those.

In our Collaborative Communications Committee we have had extensive discussion about our overall plan for communication with one of the focuses being on the current web site. During our last Coalition meeting for Houghton/Keweenaw Counties we used parents as a focus group to look at our the site and give feedback on its content and usability. This meeting was held at the ISD in order for all of us to look at the web site together. The parents provided some great suggestions and a unique perspective for some enhancements we can make to the site.

The recently developed Parent Survey, which will give us a picture of the needs of parents in the community, was also a topic of discussion at our recent Parent Coalition meetings. We asked parents in Baraga, as well as Houghton/Keweenaw Counties, to look at the survey and to provide feedback on its content, layout and their perception of the material. The parents gave us some great suggestions.

I am very excited to say that membership in our Coalition is growing and parents attending are very enthusiastic about being part of Great Start. They see that they are having a voice in some decisions being made locally and around the state through their advocacy efforts. I have received feedback from them that they can see this project is going to make a difference in the community and they are glad to be part of it.

I am attending the ECIC’s annual Parent Leadership Conference February 4 & 5 in Lansing. These conferences always provide greats workshops and I am excited to learn new ways to enhance our Parent Coalition.

The next Parent meetings will take place for Houghton/Keweenaw Counties February 18 at 6:00 at the BHK Houghton Center; for Baraga County, February 25 at the BHK L’Anse Center.

December 3, 2009

For the past two months efforts of the Parent Coalition (PC) have focused on recruitment of new members. I have attended a Family Fun Day event, and a MOM’s Club meeting to explain the opportunity of joining the Parent Coalition. I hope to get a couple of new members from those groups to join. I have asked parents who are attending the PC meetings to become a voice for the group and spread the word about joining.

On October 15 our area hosted the Great Start regional training meeting. We talked about our successes statewide with advocacy efforts and influencing the outcome of early childhood funding for the year in Michigan. We also discussed recruitment strategies for the PC specifically.

During the month of November, I focused on writing a Parent Coalition Plan of Work for the current fiscal year. The plan includes activities and events the PC plans to attend, the PC meeting schedule, and the purposes for each item. This document may change and evolve as we progress through the year. I anticipate there being additions to it. If you have suggestions for something that should be added to the schedule, please let me know.

Looking ahead to the coming months, I plan to attend more existing parent meetings, through BHK, KFRC and other such organizations in the community to try to recruit more parents. I may also try to partner with other organizations as much as possible to tap into their parent base.

The next meeting of the Parent Coalition for Houghton/ Keweenaw Counties is scheduled for next week, December 10 at 6:00 at the ISD. We will be reviewing the CC Great Start Web Site and receiving input from parents on the content and usability of the site. The next meeting for Baraga County will also be next week, December 9 at the BHK L’Anse Center beginning at 6:00. We will discuss plans for an upcoming event the PC hopes to sponsor there this winter.

Heather Store
Parent Liaison

October 1, 2009

Activities in August and September for the Parent Coalition have focused on advocating for Early Childhood Programs targeted for reduction or elimination in the state legislature. Daily updates were sent from the ECIC to assist with that effort and included things to say to our legislators and other strategies. At the directions of parents in the Coalition, I wrote a petition targeting Senator Mike Prusi and Representative Mike Lahti along with Governor Granholm to help saving early programs. The petition contained some examples of local impacts of the cuts, which included specific numbers of families and children who would be affected. 203 signatures were collected. I received responses from Lahti and Prusi.

I attended the Baraga and Houghton County Fairs in an effort to promote the Parent Coalition and to gain support for the advocacy effort. I handed out fliers regarding each in Baraga. In Houghton County, due to the nasty weather we had during the fair, I would not say that the attempt was very successful due to extremely low attendance. I participated in several Collaborative committee meetings that were held over the past two months, along with the planning meetings for the newly created regional childcare centers.

Parent Coalition Meetings are scheduled for next week in both locations. Moving forward we are working on planning a Parent Coalition sponsored community event, one for Baraga County and a second for Houghton/ Keweenaw Counties. The Baraga parents were interested in hosting a type of family carnival with kids’ games and activities. The Houghton/Keweenaw parents were undecided about which type of event they would like to do. We also plan to incorporate a family activity at the beginning of our meetings, which parents and kids can work on together. I also plan to experiment with some differing times for meetings to see if daytime meetings work better for potential members.

With school back in session after the summer break, I will begin attending parent meetings at BHK Centers, and at schools to inform parents of the opportunity to become involved in the PC. I will also attend some of the other parent group meetings such as MOPS and the new parent group for working mothers. A new Parent Coalition flier has been created, and that along with the newly created Collaborative Brochure, will be distributed to various locations around the area.

Training meetings scheduled for this month include one with and my Technical Assistant, Chasidy, next week in Baraga. A Parenting Awareness Conference will take place in Marquette October 14, which I am hoping to attend. A regional training will be hosted by us October 15 for Directors and Parent Liaisons. A parent recruitment training is tentatively scheduled for the first week in November in Marquette.

Heather Store
Parent Liaison

July 23, 2009

Since our last Collaborative Meeting, members of the Houghton/Keweenaw Parent Coalition participated in the Star Power Bridge Walk May 21. We had one member and her family from the Baraga Coalition who participated as well. That event replaced us having a regular meeting in the month of May. The Coalition met June 4 and discussed the importance of parents’ role in the Great Start project. These parents were planning to take the survey on our web site to input their observations in order to have that data for the Collaborative’s strategic planning session scheduled for the following week. We also discussed the opportunity offered by ECIC for a work session to create a vision statement and work plan for the Coalition. The parents were interested in this and stated their willingness to participate in a four hour meeting to accomplish this. A training request has been submitted to the ECIC. We also talked about the proposed budget cuts facing early childhood programs in Michigan.

I participated in the all day Strategic Planning session for the Collaborative June 11. Emilie, Cathy B. and I traveled to Boyne for a three day conference June 15, 16 & 17. I met with other Parent Liaisons from our region the first day to discuss our collective efforts. The following two days were spent hearing speakers, attending workshops and learning about advocacy efforts to save early childhood programming. We received 100 postcards for our Great Start with a pre-printed message from ECIC stating the importance of saving early childhood programs, and I have been passing them out at various meetings I have attended.

Parent Coalition members participated in the Bridgefest Parade June 19. Three families participated. We handed out fliers with information about joining the Parent Coalition and gave out 300 bottles of bubbles to the kids. The bubbles were labeled with contact information for joining the Coalition. (Thanks to Peggy for printing the labels for us!) We did not participate in the Baraga Fourth of July celebration due to a lack of parents from the area who could participate that day.

I met with my technical assistant, Chasidy Keyser, in Ontonagon along with the Parent Liaison for Ontonagon/Gogebic County. We worked to develop individual Work Plans for our Coalitions through September and discussed advocacy strategies. I sent out 42 emails to members and potential Coalition Members with information, facts and contacts for writing to Representative Mike Lahti, Senator Mike Prusi and Governor Granholm to hopefully get them to contact these people about saving early childhood programming in Michigan.

I will be meeting with a member of our Parent Coalition next week who will assist in creating a Facebook account for our Coalition and she will also help with getting us on Twitter. I also plan to attend the Baraga County Fair (8/6-8/9) one day to recruit more members for our Coalition & to provide them with advocacy materials in that county. I also plan to be at the Houghton County Fair to do the same. There is a Parent Coalition meeting scheduled for July 29 for Houghton/Keweenaw Counties and one for the following week in Baraga County.

Heather Store
Parent Liaison

May 5, 2009

Since our last Collaborative meeting, our Parent Coalition for Houghton/Keweenaw
Counties met twice, on March 5 and April 21. There is a consistent group who are
attending and they are excited about the opportunity to be part of Great Start. At the meetings we talked about ways to raise awareness for Great Start and how to get more parents involved. At the April 21st meeting, the Community Report Card was presented to them. The Parent Coalition is planning to participate in Star Power on May 21.

The Parent Coalition in Baraga County met March 31. Turnout there still could be better. Another Baraga meeting will be held this month, at which time the Community Report Card will be presented. The Baraga parents will be invited to participate in Star Power, as well. They suggested that their Parent Coalition participate in the Fourth of July Parade in Baraga.

Emilie and I attended a regional training session in Escanaba on March 12. The training included Parent Liaisons and GSC Directors from the U.P. and Northern Lower Peninsula. The session was a good networking opportunity that allowed us to see what other people were doing in our area and hear about their efforts.

I also participated in the Kiwanis Health Fair April 4 at the mall in Houghton. I was able to talk with a lot of parents as they passed through about the Parent Coalition opportunity. Turnout for that event was great. There was definitely an interest by several parents in hearing more about Great Start. Efforts moving forward this month will focus on recruiting more parents for Parent Coalition membership and

Heather Store
Parent Liaison