Jefferson Award Winner Gives Struggling Parents A Needed Break

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Jefferson Award winner Sister Ann Weltz (CBS)

Jefferson Award winner Sister Ann Weltz (CBS)

CONCORD (KPIX TV) – How do you prevent child abuse? For an East Bay woman, the answer is to provide support to families who are enduring stress or crises so they never get to the point of abusing their kids.

If you’re a parent who’s facing hard times, and you need child care while you sort things out, the Bay Area Crisis Nursery could be just the place to lend a hand.

“The nursery is a place that gives them new hope,” Sister Ann Weltz explained.

Sister Ann founded the nursery so parents could temporarily leave their children in a residential care center while they climb out of life’s emergencies.

  • Important note: The Bay Area Crisis Nursery needs financial boost this year. Sister Ann gave up her salary for a year. The Nursery is celebrating its 32nd anniversary with an Open House and fundraising Scavenger Hunt on Saturday July 20 from 10AM to 2PM at 1510 Mendocino Drive in Concord. More details online at www.bacn.info

She noticed parents’ need for support more than 30 years ago when she taught school.

“They were trying to deal with the housing, jobs, addictions, physical disabilities and no one was there to take care of the child to let them get free to work through the crises they were in,” she remembered.

“Most parents who abuse their children don’t do it because they don’t like or love their children, they do it because they reach a breaking point.”

She concluded, if parents can avoid that breaking point, the whole family stays healthier. So in 1981, she opened the Bay Area’s first crisis nursery at a Concord house she bought with $300,000 in loans and donations.

The nursery can take up to 20 children, aged five and under, plus several more kids — up to age 11 — at a second house nearby.

Development Director Sandy Hathaway said Sister Ann’s nonprofit wraps hurting families in a big hug.

“That’s what drives her,” Hathaway explained. “The knowledge that she can do something. And do something that isn’t being done anywhere else in the Bay Area.”

Since it opened, the nursery has provided a home for children 18,000 different times. Kids stay an average ten day, for free, thanks to grassroots generosity.

“We have a community that bends over backwards to see that their children, the future of their communities, are taken care of,” Sister Ann said.

One of the greatest examples of community support came in 2006, when the nursery received a Miracle Makeover. Bulldozers tore down the original site in 14 minutes to make way for new construction.

They put their heart and soul in it,” Sister Ann recalled. “21 days later, I was there for the admission of the first child back into the building. It was amazing.”

Amazing, she says, that local people and businesses donated a million dollars to fund the entire project. But they’re amazed at how Sister Ann helps families to heal.

“This is not a job for me. This is a way of life. It’s my ministry.”

So for providing support for families in crisis, this week’s Jefferson Award in the Bay Area goes to Sister Ann Weltz.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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