First Steps Toward Self-Sufficiency

Middletown mother Jolene Conley first arrived at the Parent Resource Center seeking child care for her son Dante while she completed GED classes. What she didn’t know before stepping in the door was that the center offered other resources that would help her along the way, including free diapers.

A year later, the center’s play groups for young children and the Premier Health/Atrium Medical Center Baby Pantry — which provides a limited number of free diapers, bottles, wipes and other essential supplies each month to local parents — keep Conley coming back on her journey to self-sufficiency.

The pantry helps stretch her family’s resources between paychecks, said Conley, who hopes to open her own in-home day care business.

“We come here to get a few (diapers) to help us make it to Friday,” she said.

Community Building Institute Middletown Inc. operates the Parent Resource Center where the baby pantry is located inside the Robert “Sonny” Hill Jr. Community Center in Middletown.

Conley and 2-year-old Dante are good examples of the Parent Resource Center’s work. If not for its child care and other services, Jolene might not have earned her GED, said Verlena Stewart, the resource center’s manager. Jolene and Dante continue to participate in the play groups offered at the center on Lafayette Avenue, and the center’s staff referred them to another local resource for speech and language classes.

“Jolene increased her education, gained self-sufficiency, and is on the road to prepare her child for kindergarten. That’s what we want to see,” Stewart said. “She’s positioning Dante to succeed, and herself.”

“The diaper pantry is an excellent resource to get parents through the door. We then have an opportunity to connect their children to quality pre-kindergarten programs and help them meet their personal and family goals,” Stewart said.

The baby pantry was renamed for the hospital in 2016. Funding from Premier Health and Atrium Medical Center fully replenishes pantry supplies so the center can further expand its outreach and marketing about early childhood education to local families.

Supporting the pantry is a great way to give back, said Carol Turner, past president of Atrium, the city’s second largest employer.

“The last thing we want a family who is welcoming a new baby into their home to have to worry about is the essentials like diapers and baby wipes,” Turner said. “It is crucial to make this service available in the center of Middletown.”

Any Middletown-area resident referred by the Parent Resource Center’s Butler County partners can access the pantry. In addition, the center offers weekly play groups, on-site connection to Butler County Educational Services Center preschool enrollment, GED and English as a second language classes, financial literacy and parenting classes, and more opportunities.

Each year, about 200 families visit the resource center, which also distributes more than 11,000 diapers annually along with other baby essentials.