November 2021

The Circle Family Center

Helping New Families Find Help

by Laura Maxson, LM

Many expectant parents look longingly at a prenatal yoga listing, an independent childbirth class, or parent/child art class and sigh with the realization that it is not within their budget. The Circle Family Center is trying to turn that sigh of resignation into a positive affirmation – “yes, you can!”

Newly opened, the Circle is an idea that has been incubating for some time in the minds of Nora Yerena, Elisa HavensStokes, and Kim Guiley. As parents and birth workers, the cofounders of the Circle know firsthand about the support new families need and the difficulty in finding it. Their own experiences include: feeling the effects of leaving an established, supportive community when moving to a new city, an awareness of the lack of classes and services for Spanish speaking families, and the isolation of a person of color becoming a parent in a predominantly white community.

The abrupt standstill that came with the recent pandemic offered an opportunity for the cofounders to rethink and expand on their original plans. Their work with families, combined with their own experiences, led them to envision a family center with no barriers. Structured as a nonprofit endeavor now, the Circle looks toward both memberships and donations to help support families who would not normally be able to participate.

Their midcounty location, just down the street from Sea Cliff Beach, means the Circle is within easy reach of families from both Watsonville and Santa Cruz. The Center boasts a large sunny room for yoga and similar classes and a smaller “family room” for lactation visits and smaller groups, complete with kids play area and cozy couches. The large parking lot, deck and side yard offer more options for meeting safely together outside. The entrance area includes some shopping opportunities with baby carriers, organic baby care products, baby booties, teething toys, apparel & more. Parents may borrow from the lending library on site, as well as contribute their own birth and parenting books when finished with them. 

The needs of many families have intensified as parents are beginning to emerge from the abrupt and unique isolation of the COVID pandemic. From a total shutdown to the evolution of remote contact for classes, workshops, and individual visits, families and care providers are providing new and different options for support. This new inclusivity will likely linger beyond the pandemic allowing new parents not quite ready or able to leave home, to find connection. At the Circle, some classes are offered inperson, others virtually, and some as a combination.
Activities at the Circle Family Center strive to incorporate COVID vaccinated instructors who are LBGTQ, BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color), native Spanish speakers, and those who support diversity.  If you don’t see what you need, check back, as the schedule is evolving.

Currently The Circle Family Center offers:

  • Prenatal education
  • Pre & postnatal yoga, family yoga & kids yoga
  • Pre & postnatal fitness
  • Pre & postnatal support groups
  • Child + caregiver circle time, story time & music time
  • Dads groups
  • Lgbtq+ parents group
  • Individual & group lactation support
  • Bereavement support
  • Baby sign language
  • Pelvic floor workshops
  • Positive Discipline parenting workshops
  • Car seat education & installation by certified CPSTs
  • Santa Cruz Babywearing meetings
  • Wombsong

PLUS Spanish offerings for:

  • Childbirth education
  • New parents support group
  • Parenting workshops
  • Lactation support
  • Dads group

The Circle Family Center is building relationships with a variety of community programs to connect people in need with the support they can use. As the Circle gets rolling, supporters are welcome to stop by or head to their webpage to make a taxdeductible donation.

There is something about a circle that is inherently inclusive. The curved sides gently reach out like a big hug to encompass everyone. A circle feels cozy while also suggesting expansiveness and strength. The Circle Family Center is all those things and more.

Circle Family Center –
245 Sea Ridge Rd., Suite C, Aptos
Find the Circle Family Center on Facebook and Instagram More childbirth/parenting resources

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