Krista McNamee was 4 years old when she landed at Children’s Village in Coeur d’Alene, escaping a home life plagued with substance abuse.
The only childhood photos the 22-year-old said she has are from the three years she lived at the nonprofit, which offers children up to age 18 shelter from troubled homes.
“I have good memories of here,” McNamee said. “Christmas and birthdays, they always made a big deal, with presents and cakes.”
Children’s Village is one of numerous North Idaho social service organizations drawing attention to child abuse prevention and awareness this month. Activities kicked off Monday with a resource fair at the Coeur d’Alene Library and include a breakfast at the Coeur d’Alene Resort on April 14. For a list of North Idaho events, go to www.spokesman.com/ourkids and click on “Our Kids calendar.”
A Friday fundraiser for Children’s Village, called “Midnight in Paris,” will include an auction of donated items and a buffet dinner. Proceeds will help ensure the nonprofit will continue to provide a safe place for children in North Idaho.
McNamee moved out of Children’s Village when she was 7, but staff members kept in touch with her and continued to provide support and assistance. They stayed in contact as she moved out of her family home and in with friends at age 15, as she completed her GED and as she enrolled in classes at North Idaho College.
Then, two years ago, an entry-level position as a direct care provider opened at the nonprofit. By then, McNamee had taken a certified nursing assistant class, which helped qualify her for the position. She applied and was hired, becoming the first former resident to work there as a full-time employee. She works with children of all ages from the time they wake up until they go to bed. McNamee loves the work and said her upbringing helps her relate to the children. She said giving good memories to children who have experienced a lot of pain and suffering can show them that life isn’t supposed to be that way.
“They need to know somebody’s been through it and they can have a better life,” she said. “I don’t think kids realize that when they’re in that life.”
McNamee is one of 1,800 children the village has served in its 20 years. The nonprofit, which keeps brothers and sisters together, has the ability to house 22 children between its two homes. Other services include a crisis nursery, parenting aid, crisis intervention, medical assistance and a fully accredited school with behaviorally focused education. Children’s Village operations are funded through grants, donations and investments, along with some government funding.
McNamee said working at the village has contributed to her desire to have children one day.
“I feel like I’ll be a better parent after working here,” she said.