Over the weekend, Millhill Child and Family Development (Millhill) hosted a small fair for Trenton parents to come and speak with staff members about their programs.
Established in 1971, Millhill Child and Family Development are devoted to serving children in Trenton. They have various programs that help families, from college acceptance programs to a child care center.
“We are here for the children, but also we are here to help their families,” said Narcisa Delgado, Family Worker at Millhill. “As a family worker, I have the opportunity to help them at different times of the year. ”
In the Pre-school, they provide baskets of food during thanksgiving, jackets during the winter, and Christmas presents for kids. Every Friday, they send kids home with a bag of food for the family.
Elysia Thomas is a Trenton resident enrolling her four-year-old daughter in the Millhill program again. “Well, she went to the school last year, so of course, I’m trying to keep her in the same type of system. The teachers, they’re very good. They keep you updated on your children. Also… they’ll give you bags of food or sometimes jackets and shoes,” Thomas said.
They provide support for the kids’ social, educational, and emotional needs in the pre-k program.
Jigna Rao, Director of Operations, said they have moved to provide mental health counseling over telehealth. “Which has, as you know, particularly now with the pandemic years, mental health has become a huge need, and our community’s already underserved,” Rao said. “With telehealth now we can reach more people… and has opened up opportunities for people who otherwise had some barriers.”
Millhill does this by creating support groups with the kids and providing different emotional lessons for the families. They provide individual, family, and group counseling, psychiatric evaluations, Medication monitoring, and Case management.
“We provide support to families within,” said Shanika Dixon-Glave, a therapeutic support coordinator at Millhill. She regularly works with the children at Millhill. “I also provide the support in the classroom, where I’m in with the students, and I provide social-emotional lessons or sessions with them as a group.”
On Saturday, Trenton residents were free to walk around and speak with different organizations, including Isles, The Trenton Health Team, KinderSmile, and the NAACP.
Taylor Pollard, Trenton Resident who registered her two twins for Pre-K, was treating herself to Italian ice with her twins. “I’ve been blessed…(my kids) are in a good curriculum, and always they’re learning…so I’m thankful,” Pollard said. “I feel pretty good. I feel like a good mom.”
During the pandemic, Millhill built a Middle School STEM camp built that expanded on thier previous Youth engagement programs. “We built it from the ground up, but we had that experience of youth engagement programs,” Cynthia Oberkofler, Executive Director of Millhill, explained.
The Middle School Stem Explores Summer Program focuses on providing Trenton children with access to STEM-related activities like field trips, science mentors, experiments, and social-emotional learning.
However, Michelle Tompkins, Director of Youth engagement programs, explained the crowning jewel of the youth engagement program is their Trenton PEERS (Performing, Educating and Engaging about Responsible Strategies) program. A year-round leadership program for Trenton high school students prepares them to become PEER educators, graduate high school on time and advance to post-secondary education.
“I think we do very well knowing what (High schoolers) are looking for. So even as adults, we have other youth we work with that give us feedback. …So it’s designed with youth in mind,” Tompkins said.
William Green, a youth advocate, was out on Saturday. “It makes me feel like a great human being, and I can connect with them when I can help them, be a mentor and guide them,” Green said.
The group helps up-and-coming juniors looking to get into college fill out the necessary forms. They also allow students to explore different campuses to find the right fit.
“We help them with their essay, their resume, the common app, their FAFSA, and especially the selection of school,” Tompkins said. “Is it the right fit academically, what you want to pursue, is it the right fit personally, do you like the city or the suburbs, big school or small school, what about clubs? Then is it a financial fit? Are they going into school with little to no debt?”
Overall, with over 50 years of service, Millhill has become a jack of all trades for Trenton parents looking to help their children grow and develop. “We know it’s not just education,” Rao said. “We know it’s also important to have a safe, healthy home to live in.”
To learn more, head over to their website https://www.millhillcenter.org/
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