Tag Archives: Storyteller Childrens Center

Life through the lens of a Storyteller Preschooler

Photography Show at Paseo Nuevo: June 5th – July 6th

Storyteller Children’s Center will showcase the photography of its Head Start Children, ages 3 – 5 years old, in the old Macy’s windows in the Paseo Nuevo in downtown Santa Barbara. The show is the result of a curriculum created by teachers to instruct the children about memory, time, and reflection. The exhibition will hang for a month and offers the local community a glimpse into Storyteller Children’s Center’s approach to encouraging healthy life skills. 

Each child was given a disposable camera and taught how to use a viewfinder, a wind advance, and flash. Then, the cameras were sent home for the children to record their daily lives; a learning activity meant to encourage the development of patience, observation, creativity, and inventiveness. All photos presented have been taken by the children from their perspective. 

“There was so much joy among the children in learning a new method of taking pictures and taking the cameras home was a wonderful opportunity for them to have self-directed expression without adult intervention,” noted Teacher, Genezaret Cardoso. As opposed to the digital photography of today, the photos also offer the unique beauty of an unedited moment in time. 

Founded in 1988, Storyteller is a full-time, therapeutic school program that supports children ages 18 months to 5 years in achieving kindergarten readiness. In addition to the approximate 80 students served per year, Storyteller also provides assistance to the entire family unit, with an emphasis on breaking the cycle of poverty for the working poor while preparing children to successfully enter kindergarten. Some of Storyteller’s programs are supported by Head Start of the United States Department of Health and Human Services which provides comprehensive early childhood education, health, nutrition, and parent involvement services to low-income children and families.

Storyteller Children’s Center (Literally) Delivers On Their 7th Annual Lunch With Love Event

Raising funds on behalf of the therapeutic school for homeless toddlers and preschoolers, Storyteller staff, board and volunteers delivered 140 lunches (serving 560 people) to the doorsteps of would-be event guests.

Storyteller Children’s Center held its 7th annual Lunchbox Luncheon this week. As a result of pandemic circumstances, this is the second time the non-profit pivoted from an in-person event to deliver lunch to patrons and donors over a four day period. 

Participants received a delicious lunch by Duo and Mission Rose Pasta, which included a choice between homemade vegan soup, chicken noodle soups or fresh pasta. All lunches served a family of four and included freshly baked bread and a bottle of Grenache from Babcock winery.

“Storyteller’s Lunch with Love has been a great success due to incredible community involvement,” noted Storyteller Development Director, Adrienne DeGuevara.”With the support of volunteers, board members and sponsors, we’ve been able to engage long-standing donors and engage new ones. “

As a special bonus, each lunch purchase included an automatic raffle entry to win an original piece of artwork from Pedro De La Cruz, who created the celebrated Montecito Strong bear and whose artwork famously drew a $100,000 auction bid at the Storyteller Children’s Center Gala in 2018.

“While we’re eager to gather again, we are happy to partake in this effort for a second year,” noted Storyteller board member Erinn Lynch. “It offers a much-needed touchpoint with the people who support our Storyteller children and families. These ‘soul food’ lunches are delivered with gratitude and an acknowledged bond as we work together to take care of our community, despite pandemic circumstances.” 

About Storyteller: Founded in 1988, Storyteller is a full-time, therapeutic school program that supports children ages 18 months to 5 years in achieving kindergarten readiness. In addition to the approximate 80 students served per year, Storyteller also provides assistance to the entire family unit, with an emphasis on breaking the cycle of poverty for the working poor while preparing children to successfully enter kindergarten.

Storyteller Children’s Center’s Annual Lunch with Love Fundraiser

Storyteller Children’s Center is gearing up for its 7th annual Lunchbox Luncheon on Tuesday. As a socially distanced creative pivot from an in-person event, Storyteller will be offering a delivered lunch to our patrons and donors. All participants will receive an amazing lunch catered by Duo and Mission Rose Pasta. Lunch packages will include three choices from the menu: a choice between two soups or fresh pasta and marinara, all served with freshly baked bread and a bottle of Grenache from Babcock winery. Lunches are $85 and serve a party of four. With each lunch purchase there is automatic entry into a raffle to win an original piece of artwork from Pedro De La Cruz. To see Mr. De La Cruz’s work you can visit his website at www.pedrodelacruz-artist.com. Lunches are being delivered on a day during April 13th – 16th between 11 – 1pm. 

Each ticket holder will also receive a link to a short video update on all of our latest projects and programming at Storyteller. 

We hope you will join us for this event to help support our mission to provide high-quality early childhood education for homeless and at-risk children in Santa Barbara County, as well as comprehensive support services for their families. We are currently accepting volunteers to help us deliver lunches to our donors and participants. For more information, please contact Adrienne De Guevara at adrienne@storytellercenter.org.

New Leadership Team Implements Bold and Enduring Vision for Storyteller Children’s Center… Through the Pandemic and Beyond

New Executive Director, Development Director, and ECE Program Manager are bolstering support, partnerships, and programs for vulnerable toddlers and preschoolers.

Storyteller Children’s Center supports approximately 80 homeless and at-risk children and families per year

In the midst of the COVID-19-related protocols and lockdowns, Storyteller Children’s Center hasn’t stopped their momentum in serving the social, emotional, and scholastic needs of Santa Barbara’s homeless preschoolers. In the six months since Susan Cass took over in the role of Executive Director, the organization has brought on Adrienne De Guevara as Development Director and Maria Cervantes as ECE Program Manager. They have also remained open for the large majority of the year and achieved accreditation by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). 

“As one would expect, it has been particularly challenging for this leadership team to step into our roles during the pandemic,” noted Cass. “The economic hardships and needs of our families and students are greater than ever, so we need to remain focused on the opportunities rather than the obstacles. While new health and safety protocols have impacted our program delivery and revenue from fundraising events has steeply declined, we are committed to finding creative and strategic ways to continue to support our children, families, and staff during this time.”

Storyteller Children’s Center Executive Director Susan Cass
Storyteller Children’s Center Development Director Adrienne De Guevara

Adrienne De Guevara, previously with the Lobero Theatre Foundation, brings her combined experience in fundraising, sales, and event organizing to support Storyteller Children’s operation and program costs. As a board member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, she serves on the Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Access committee while also staying informed on the latest trends in philanthropy both locally and nationally. This year she also served on the selection committee for the 2020 National Philanthropy Day Honorees. 

For De Guevara, finding revenue has been all about reaching out and reactivating relationships. She has been identifying and applying for grants, upgrading the website to support online contributions, while managing the second virtual event to replace Storyteller’s annual lunchbox luncheon, “Lunch with Love,” which includes home-delivered meals to donors for a touch-base and connection. 

Storyteller Children’s Center ECE Program Manager Maria Cervantes

“This has been a challenging year for everyone,” said De Guevara. “It’s understandable that we are not necessarily top of mind with donors and funders, because we are all distracted and a bit overwhelmed. My approach is really applying the old fashion method of picking up the phone and saying ‘Hi, how are you?’ It’s incredible to me how responsive this community has been to our expressed needs.”

Maria Cervantes comes to Storyteller with 23 years of experience in the Early Childhood Education field. Maria believes that every child deserves a high-quality early learning program and that ECE educators should be recognized for their research-based approach to development. A graduate of National University in San Diego, Maria holds a bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education and will enter into a master’s degree program later this year. In 2016 Maria was awarded Preschool Teacher of the Year by Los Angeles Universal Preschool and the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. Maria will be overseeing programs at both Storyteller locations.

Cervantes’ primary focus is on supporting the foundation of the Storyteller’s therapeutic-based education: the teachers and staff.

“All teachers are carrying a great deal of added responsibilities and workload this year, and that’s threefold for Storyteller’s educators,” said Cervantes. “Not only do they have the curriculum and COVID protocols to navigate, but they are also trained to provide emotional support to students who have or are experiencing a great deal of trauma. Our students benefit when our teachers are supported with resources, technology, training, compensation, and… empathy.”

Operating out of two campuses on State Street and De La Vina Street, Storyteller Children’s Center supports approximately 80 homeless and at-risk children and families per year. Beyond their year-round educational program, they provide behavioral health services, two nutritious meals and one snack per day, medical screenings and home visits. Parents and guardians must be working or enrolled in a vocational program for students to qualify. The primary objectives for Storyteller are to foster social and emotional resiliency and kindergarten readiness, the most critical markers in the scholastic success of a child.

We Are Family

In the 1960s, the Perry Preschool in Ypsilanti, Michigan laid the groundwork for our understanding of the value of early education. 

A sample of 58 low-income students received high quality preschool, while a control group of an additional 63 had none. Researchers then followed those children until age 40. On all measures – high school graduation, income, arrest rates – the adults that had high quality preschool did better. The return was a jaw-dropping $16 for every dollar invested. 

So what does Ypsilanti have to do with Santa Barbara? Well, the latter is home to Storyteller Children’s Center, a therapeutic preschool that provides high-quality early childhood education for homeless and at-risk children and comprehensive support services for their families. 

Founded in 1988, the school serves 80 children and their families a year. Storyteller’s recently appointed executive director, Susan Cass, sees the center’s work as “critical to breaking the cycle of poverty in Santa Barbara.” 

“This marginalized population that we serve is a large portion of our county,” Cass says, an allusion to Santa Barbara’s ignominious distinction of having the third highest poverty rate in California. “There are a lot of people in our community struggling without alternatives for childcare. Storyteller provides these families with the support they need to address and overcome their challenges so they can build a better life for themselves and their children.”

Storyteller’s teachers and staff receive double the amount of required training for early childhood educators and are committed to ensuring that children and their families have the tools and resources they need to thrive. Whether it be through mental health support services offered in partnership with CALM and Casa Pacifica, monthly parent meetings, or bi-annual home visits, the children’s center is focused on much more than the child alone. “We are a whole family service,” Cass says. 

One desperately needed in Santa Barbara. A 2017 countywide needs assessment conducted found that more than 35,000 children were in need of early education and childcare, while the number of available slots stood at just under 18,000, after tumbling by more than 1,200 in the preceding decade. For the working poor, whom Storyteller serves, the need is even more acute. 

Cass envisions a future where she and her team can devote more energy to improving the lives of the entire families, which she knows – and research shows – will have a powerful ripple effect in our community, only making it stronger with each passing year.