Parenting is tough business. No matter how wonderful and functional our upbringing, we all have questions, struggles and concerns when raising our children. To help parents along their journey, Better Together organizes a luncheon each month to bring parents together for community, to support each other and to hear from experts while their children play supervised in another room.
Sometimes the topics are lighthearted, like where to find inexpensive fun things to do with your kids, while other times the speaker is there to discuss more serious concerns.
In September, board-certified behavior analyst Kevin Brintnell gave an encore presentation about changing children’s behavior. He had been a guest speaker at a past luncheon and was so popular among the parents that Better Together asked him to speak again. The casual structure of the luncheon allowed parents to really get to the heart of their concerns.
“Modifying or changing behavior is really difficult,” Brintnell said. But it is possible, particularly with a healthy approach. Often, “it’s really about changing our behavior to change their behavior.”
Elite DNA Therapy Services Clinical Therapist Michael Fentress also spoke at the luncheon about Elite DNA’s new intensive therapeutic program, Behavioral Health Day Services, for ages 4 to 18 that uses positive reinforcement to boost kids’ mental health.
While the parents enjoy lunch, companionship and expert advice, volunteers watch their children and feed them lunch in another room.
There’s also a raffle for fun giveaways. September’s prizes included a GameTime 4-Pack Combo (four pizzas, four drinks and four one-hour GameTime cards). Other donations included two $50 dinner gift certificates from The Keys Bar & Grille at Gulf Coast Town Center.
Donors or churches provide the location and food.
In September, parents had their choice of lunch thanks to two donations: Publix sandwiches, sides and cookies courtesy of long-time supporter Dayalis Sifrar, or sandwiches and waffles from Waffle House.
Children from San Carlos Park Elementary School contributed tote bags filled with books, coloring books and other goodies courtesy of FineMark National Bank & Trust. Teacher Colleen Bowman’s class works with the Kindness Project from Florida Gulf Coast University, and this was one of their projects.
If you plunked some cash into a collection jar at the Lee County Tax Collector’s office, you may have contributed to Better Luncheons. The Lee County Tax Collector raised $1,500 for the program.
The speaker hails from United Way to talk about the agency’s ReUnite program, which is a collaboration with sheriff’s offices in Lee, Hendry and Glades counties to help in search-and-rescue of at-risk individuals with cognitive disabilities who might wander or get lost.
The luncheons have proved so successful that Better Together plans to hold additional luncheons in each area that we serve, including the Sarasota and Manatee County area, Tampa Bay and Jacksonville.