YWCA   Santa Monica / Westside  |  Closed June 2016
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pot luck drumming with MonicaEndings and Beginnings Pot Luck - Cottage

To celebrate our community, we held a pot luck dinner on Friday August 23, 2013 which included families that are leaving, families who are staying and new families beginning Cottage Activity Time, the YWCA's drop-off play group for children ages 2 to 4. Teachers, mothers, fathers, children (and one grandmother) all played and ate in our yard. We were there for two hours and the 30 children present were joyous with almost no conflicts the entire time. People leave these YWCA events with such a sense of optimism and happiness.

Why are these gatherings so powerful? There is a special connection that happens when many aspects of our lives join in one place. When our family lives and work lives and “school” lives come together, there is a sense of unity. Children so quickly pick up on this and can freely be who they are. Social relationships are at the core of our development and when our community is active together, whether it is a work day or a potluck party, all of our families become stronger.

This bridging is a core focus of “A Place For Parents” and what makes the Cottage Activity Time program so much more powerful than “just” a transitional program for children. Parents are working on building parenting skills with a similar focus and families quickly become connected with each other. Parents know they can always get support here: parenting advice, sharing caregivers with other families,  practical tips from other parents, meeting exercise partners, or having a “Parents’ Night Out” where staff takes care of children at the YWCA on Saturday evenings.

Parents view the Cottage as a haven, where not only their children can get support for who they are without judgment, but they can get support for who they are as parents, whatever their situation, whatever their level of need. This Potluck, with its wonderful food and drum circle where children, parents and staff all pounded out their own rhythms, was the embodiment of a true community, a place in which everyone’s needs are met. 

For more information about the YWCA's Cottage Program, please contact Barbara Olinger, Senior Director of Family Development, at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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