By Steve Sears
My Rainbows Place of Denville, a 501 (c)(3) non-profit, is a strong support forum especially for children to help them defeat or lessen the emotional scars that surface when facing tough times in their lives, such as a parental divorce or death, deployment, or any other extremely challenging scenario.
The program was founded as Rainbows for Children by the late Suzy Yehl Marta in 1983, who during a first marriage divorce was approached by her children and asked if there was a place or group for kids like adults had to talk about their feelings during traumatic times. Marta found none, and from her dining room table created Rainbows for All Children. The home office is located in Evanston, Ill.
My Rainbows Place itself serves Denville, Boonton, Parsippany, Rockaway and Dover. There are other sites that serve other towns.
“What we do best is to allow children to share their feelings, when they are ready to,” says Wendy Spector, co-coordinator along with Diane Thormann. “They meet other children who have had the same life experiences. They provide peer support for each other.”
The group currently has six facilitators, which include Thormann and Spector. The group is looking for one or two new facilitators, and the individual or individuals must take a training program on the computer, set up by headquarters. “(There is) No particular background except liking children, being reliable, able to listen without interrupting,” says Spector. She then adds, “You must be committed to the children.”
Two nine-week programs are held in the winter and fall, each culminating with a “Yes, I Can!” party. The next program kicks off on January 28, 2020, and Spector also would like to do a third. “We may do another nine weeks from May to June.” In addition to getting the word out via the website, My Rainbows Place also does mailings to schools and guidance counselors, and libraries. There is currently a list of parents to be contacted for the valuable January 28 – March 24 sessions.
“Yeah, it really is,” says Spector of My Rainbows Place as being valuable. “Kids will sometimes say that their parents are arguing – even arguing on the phones the kids hear it. I think parents forget that the children are there and are listening. We have a parent group, also.”
While it’s true that the majority of the My Rainbows Place program focus is on children (SunBeams – ages 3 and 4; Rainbows – kindergarten to 8th grade; Spectrum – adolescents, 9th to 12th grade; Alumni – for those who wish to reenroll) there are programs for college age and up adults (Kaleidoscope) and single parents and stepparents (Prism). “It does help,” says Spector. “We’re one of the few groups that actually offers a place for the parents to gather and meet, and we have a facilitator who is very good with that group. They (the parents) also learn from each other.”
The key challenge is getting the word out. “Our new web-site is helping,” says Spector. “We’ve been at Saint Francis (Residential Community) for about 10 years,” she adds, “and we were at the United Methodist Church in Mount Tabor at least 10 years before that, so we have a lot of experience working with children. We’re just really, really fortunate that Saint Francis gave us the rooms that we can use.”
My Rainbows Place is located at the Saint Francis Residential Community, 122 Diamond Spring Road, Denville. Monetary donations are welcome (all donations are tax deductible), and as previously mentioned, new facilitators are being sought. If there are parents who feel a child may benefit from the program, they can visit www.rainbowsdenville.org for more information, or contact Wendy Spector at (973) 625-3352 or Diane Thormann, (973) 627-2134.