Celebrating a decade of beginnings

By Nancy Gutierrez

There were just six clients who walked through the door of the Healthy Start building when it first opened 10 years ago.

"They all wanted to see a dentist," Healthy Start Director Janie Elson said.

The three staff members working at that time called support services and looked for resources to find out how to help their patrons.

"We had to learn what to do each day," Elson said. "Now 10 years later and 25,000 appointments later we have a budget of close to $1 million and have had 15 different funding sources."

Elson addressed a crowd of administrators, school board members, Healthy Start staff and community members who had gathered to celebrate a decade of services provided to the children in the Lindsay Unified School District and their families. Healthy Start provides services for children and adults suffering from abuse, neglect, poverty, homelessness or other adversiies.

"That is why 39 people set their alarms each night. We want to help and support to our community," Elson said.

Erika Vasquez is a testament to the progress Healthy Start has made. She spoke to the crowd about the help she received. She said her marriage with husband Martin would not have lasted had she not attended classes provided by the staff.

"We came from families that didn't know how to treat each other," she said. "We treated our kids the way our family treated us. But I learned that there are different ways to talk to your kids, they are not animals. Now we can go forward and they can have a better future. I thank God for the people at the Healthy Start."

Following Vasquez' testimonial the group was entertained by the Lindsay High School Mariachi Band in their first major performance.

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