CULVER CITY (CBS2) — Finding child care is already challenging under the best of circumstances, but for parents dealing with a disease the search can be even more difficult.
CBS2’s Pat Harvey takes a look at Village Tree Preschool, a non-profit organization in Culver City that’s caring for children whose parent or sibling is living with a chronic illness.
“I love the feeling. They call all their teachers aunties. It almost makes you feel safe when you come there,” said Dorraine Nesbit, whose 3-year-old son Dorian attends the day care facility.
Nesbit said the school helped her when she needed it most. At around the same time she got laid off from work Nesbit was also diagnosed with cervical cancer, which made paying for day care nearly impossible. Jade and Robbie Stanford of Village Tree saw her need and offered to cover the cost of Dorian’s day care.
“I’m so blessed to have them in my life right now,” Nesbit said.
The couple is acutely aware of what it’s like to deal with an illness because Robbie Stanford has been living with leukemia for 14 years.
“We saw a lot of families that were going through a health crisis, were broke dealing with their health crisis and raising their kids. And we realize how the children were affected, how our children were affected going back and forth to chemo treatments like that. So, we decided to find a way to open up a center to help more and more families,” Robbie said.
They started Village Tree Preschool nine years ago and it’s blossomed into a site of compassion and care. The center teaches its young wards yoga, dance, art and music.
“I think the beauty of this school is that we blend families who are ‘typical,’ with no illness, and we bring in children whose families have issues or illnesses, and we blend them together. And everyone works as a village or community and help each other,” Robbie said. “Each day that we help someone it just brings us so much joy. It just lifts our hearts.”
“How do you keep each other up?” Harvey asked them.
“This place here keeps me smiling, keeps me feeling like I have a long future ahead,” Robbie said.
“I have to say the staff we have here, they are amazing. They are here in the morning, they love these children like they’re their own,” he added.
In 2010, Village Tree was awarded a Congressional Award for their non-profit concept. They’ve so far helped more than 25 children with terminally-ill parents.
“You’re not funded by the government?” Harvey said.
“No, we basically are able to spread the money we are able to make from parents who can’t pay, and that’s how we pay for the staff and children who can’t afford it,” Robbie said.
Click here for more information about Village Tree Preschool.