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My Head Start Story

Mitch : October 28, 2014 3:32 PM : Tri-Valley Blog

-By Melody Hedden (Family and Community Services Manager, Crookston)-

When my parents signed me up for Head Start in 1979 I am sure they weren’t aware of the impact it would have on my life. Head start is the foundation from which my life skills were built.  Born into a family stricken with poverty wasn’t easy. I was the daughter of a farmer who battled with alcoholism and his wife who took on jobs to help ends meet.  I didn’t realize how poor we were until my adult years. I thought it was normal for your power to be turned off now and then, add water to the ketchup to make it last until we could afford to buy more, and live in a small section of the house in winter months. As hard as those years were I wouldn’t change anything.

Getting signed up for Head start was largely due to my aunt Pat, who was my favorite aunt and my own personal super hero. You see, my aunt was the director of our community’s local Head Start. Boy did I give her a run for her money.  I can recall on several occasions convincing the bus driver that my Aunt Pat said I had better be dropped off at her house. After getting in trouble a few times I decided that wasn’t the best way to get to her house.

Head Start became my security blanket.  I was in a class with several other children my age, many of whom I would later go to school with. When I think back to those years I remember Mrs. Ollie coming to my house. I didn’t realize she did home visits with all the kids in her class, I always thought she came to my house because I was her favorite. I remember playing on the playground with all of my friends and the wonderful homemade meals they would feed us. One incident I remember in particular is Mrs. Ollie talked my dad into volunteering at the center. I wasn’t sure how she did that as my dad was a very shy man! He came to the center dressed as Santa Clause. Everyone sat in his lap told him what they wanted and he gave them a book. While I sat patiently waiting on my turn to speak with Santa and rehearsing my list in my mind I couldn’t help but to be caught up in something familiar about him. When it was my turn I sat in his lap not paying too much attention as it was important that he knew I wanted a Betsy Wettsie for Christmas.  After I finished my plea for the doll I said, “This isn’t Santa, this is my daddy, I know because he has cow poop on his boots,” Mrs. Ollie rushed me off his lap and brought on the next child.  I learned so much in those few years.

I would go many years not thinking about Head Start. In those years I would be struck by several tragic events including the suicide of my father.  I felt my life was spinning out of control for some time.  I eventually graduated high school and married my high school sweet heart.  We began to have children and I stayed home with them for the first couple of years. I began to think back at my own childhood and the experiences I had. I then signed my own children up for Head Start. I volunteered in their classrooms accompanying field trips and doing activities at home with them. I was pregnant with my third child and accepted into the pregnant mom’s program. I began to realize how important my future was because my children’s future largely depended on my future.

While my children were in Head Start they received services that would later change their lives as well.  My oldest who was shy and unsure of himself is now an infantryman in the US Army. My daughter who was in the speech program is now going to college in pursuit of a career working with children in poverty. My youngest was referred for lots of testing by Head Start and while in the program we learned that he needed glasses, tubes and had a brain tumor. He is now in the eighth grade and attends a lot of the Head Start activities with me.  Their time in the program was priceless.

No one had to sell me on Head Start being the best start. I started thinking of a career with Head Start and applied for a Family Advocate position and was hired in June of 1999. I can recall telling a coworker, “I can see myself retiring from a job like this”. After she got done laughing and assured me that I could find better ways to make a living, I just smiled and knew inside this is where I was meant to be. Head Start paid for me to take classes as I worked. I earned my associated degree in Human Services as well as obtained the Family Service Credential from Duke University. I was promoted to ERSEA Specialist in December of 2000. This year I moved my family from North Carolina to accept a position with Tri-Valley Opportunity Council’s Head Start Program as Family and Community Services Manager.

As you can see I never quite let go of that security blanket I call Head Start. It is my mission to foster life changing events in the lives of children and families that I work with. I would like to ask you to join my mission and share your Head Start experience with others. Together we can cover more ground of recruiting children into their local Head Start programs.

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Join Tri-Valley Opportunity Council “I-C.A.R.E” To Help Area Families in Need

Mitch : December 3, 2013 8:36 AM : Tri-Valley Blog

You Can Make A Difference! 

Join Tri-Valley Opportunity Council “I-C.A.R.E” To Help Area Families in Need

I-C.A.R.E is a group of Tri-Valley employees who, beyond their employment duties, are dedicated to helping area families in need, regardless of age or circumstance. This holiday season, they are looking for families in need of support; and those who can make it happen. Please help by:

Donating Items: By Dec 16th, drop off: Food: canned/non-perishable food items, Personal Items: soap, shampoo, toothbrush/paste, deodorant, diapers, etc. & Blankets, caps, mittens/gloves for children/adults at Tri-Valley Administrative Office at 102 N Broadway in Crookston. Tri-Valley Public Transportation, T.H.E. BUS in Crookston is also accepting donated items as you board the bus, and in return giving a voucher for a free one-way ride to be used at a later date! (one voucher per customer; $2 value)

Monetary Donations to Purchase Basic Food Items such as meat, produce, milk, formula, baby food, etc. to meet the family needs. By Dec 16th, monetary donations can be mailed/dropped off at Tri-Valley Administrative Office at 102 N Broadway. Credit card donations can be given by visiting the Tri-Valley website at www.tvoc.org/about-us/tri-valley-i-c-a-r-e/.

Nominate a Family In Need: By Dec 16th, nominate the family/families you wish; include family name, address, phone, what they need, and why they are in need. Please get their permission to nominate in advance. Nominations can be dropped off or mailed to Tri-Valley Administrative Office at 102 N Broadway or emailed to hr@tvoc.org.

I-C.A.R.E.:  When the Community, Agency, Relationships, and Employees matter to You!

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Grafton Family Service Center Holds a “Day of Pink”

Mitch : November 21, 2013 3:26 PM : Tri-Valley Blog

October was Breast Cancer Awareness month. The Tri-Valley wellness committee asked staff to raise awareness by wearing the color pink on Fridays. The Grafton Family Service Center took it one step further and had their entire facility wear pink on Friday the 11th.

Above is a picture from the “Day of Pink” at the Grafton Family Service Center. The kids loved getting their picture taken.

In 2010, 206,699 women in the United States were diagnosed with Breast Cancer- 40,996 passed away from the disease. Awareness and early detection are keys to decreasing these numbers. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, regular conversations about the risks of breast cancer and preventative testing from ages 40-49 and mammograms every two years from ages 50-74 are recommended. A simple breast exam can be complete by a physician during your annual check-up. If you physician does not require the screen you may ask for them to complete it. You can also check yourself in the shower using the pads of your fingers making circular motions around all breast tissue including in the underarm area. If you notice any of these contact your physician:

  • Lump or thickening inside the breast or underarm area
  • Swelling, warmth of darkening of the breast
  • Change in size or shape of the breast
  • Dimpling or puckering of the skin
  • Itchy, scaly sore or rash on the nipple
  • New pain in one spot that doesn’t go away

Thank you to everyone that participated in this month of awareness. Awareness is the first step in finding a cure.

-          The Tri-Valley Wellness Committee


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Apple Valley Administrative Office Participates in the Get Lucky 7K in Minneapolis

Mitch : March 19, 2013 11:28 AM : Tri-Valley Blog

The Apple Valley Administrative Office participated in the Get Lucky 7K run in Minneapolis on Saturday, March 16 as a wellness initiative. All the runners finished the event despite the cold and they had a blast. Pictured left to right are: Nicolee Mensing (Program Area Manager), Amber Athey (Education/Disabilities Specialist), Megan Bentley (Family & Community Services Manager), Shelly Goddard (Program Design Manager), Leonela Trigueros (Family & Community Services Specialist), and Jackie Perez (Migrant Education Program Specialist). The Apple Valley office is hoping to challenge another office/site/location to run a 5k as a team and compare times as a way to continue the Tri-Valley wellness initiative.

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What’s in Your Drink?

Mitch : February 22, 2013 10:30 AM : Tri-Valley Blog

(Submitted by Emily Schwichtenberg, Food and Nutrition Specialist at Tri-Valley)

Most adults do not drink enough water. Our bodies are made up of about 70% water. Water is necessary in the everyday functions to keep our bodies working properly. Sugar sweetened beverages has replaced water as a beverage of choice. Sugar sweetened beverages are items such as Sports Drinks, Soda, Juices and Lemonades. True there are some sugar free options such as Diet Soda and Crystal Light However our bodies still have to work to get the water out of these products. So what’s in your drink?

These pictures depict the amount of sugar in the represented beverages:

Where there is sugar there are calories…the America Heart Association recommends no more than 450 calories of sugar-sweetened beverages or, 3- 12 ounce cans of soda, per week.

A study published by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention states that males consume an average of 178 calories from sugary drink on any given day, while females consume 103 calories from sugary drinks.

Rethink your drink and choose water. Save your calories for nutritious foods and hydrate your body with clean, fresh, zero calorie water.

(Taken from Ogden C. L. et al. “Consumption of Sugar Drinks in the United States, 2005-2008.” NCHS Data Brief, No. 71. August 2011. Retrieved from: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db71.htm 28 January 2013.)


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West Adventure Center Holds 3rd Annual Chili Cook Off

Mitch : February 13, 2013 3:23 PM : Tri-Valley Blog

West Adventure Center in Hendrum, MN held its 3rd Annual Chili Cook Off. It was a big success with six chili entries and a wonderful turn out. The local judges had the difficult job of deciding the winner but ultimately Jessica Karstens took the top prize with Rita Olson finishing in second place and Angie Nelson finishing in third place.

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Transportation Service & Maintenance

Mitch : February 11, 2013 1:39 PM : Tri-Valley Blog

(Tom Bray, Transportation Fleet Supervisor)

It’s another cold and windy day in Northwestern Minnesota. The ridership for the year has increased nine percent. With the cold winter weather, it’s understood that ridership and demands for the buses will increase. As the drivers put more miles on and with the harsh weather, the buses need more service to keep them safe and dependable. At the shop we are always working to keep the buses in tip-top shape for the safety and security of all involved. Having so many routes and a high ridership T.H.E. Bus has to be ready to go. Sometimes there are some long days but knowing that everyone has a safe and dependable ride on T.H.E. Bus makes it all worthwhile. It is nice to hear about the numbers of rides a route had and knowing that they had a safe and dependable ride to get to their destination. Keeping up with the growing ridership is a fun challenge for all of us in transportation.

For information on bus service and maintenance visit /services/transportation/bus-maintenance/.  For T.H.E. Bus schedules and contact information visit /services/transportation/t-h-e-bus-schedule/.

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Tri-Valley Community Forum Information

Mitch : February 6, 2013 10:24 AM : Tri-Valley Blog

Tri-Valley is hosting a Community Forum in your area. We would appreciate your attendance and insight regarding community needs, and existing and potential services offered by Tri-Valley. Call 218-281-5832 for more information.

East Grand Forks Community Forum
Polk County Human Service Center
Thursday, February 14 @ 12-1:30 pm
& 5:30-7 pm
Crookston Community Forum
Community Family Service Center
Friday, February 15 @ 10-11:30 am
Marshall County Community Forum
Marshall County Courthouse
Tuesday, February 19 @ 3:30-5 pm
Norman County Community Forum
Annex Building (South Entrance)
Wednesday, February 20 @ 12-1:30 pm
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Welcome to the Tri-Valley Blog!

Nathan : January 23, 2013 11:28 AM : Tri-Valley Blog

This blog was created to share information about the programs Tri-Valley offers and how they are helping change lives and communities.

Thank-you for reading the Tri-Valley Blog!

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