ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The start of the school year is weeks away and many families in our community are starting it with trauma and grief after another violent summer. 

On Friday, Rochester Regional Health’s ‘Healthy Mom’s Program’ supported families through a ‘Family Resource Fair’ at St. Mary’s Hospital. There, families were given free food, clothing, books, mental health resources, and school supplies.

“There’s a lot of trauma that the families in this community are facing on a daily basis, and we wanted to bring something out to the neighborhood that is positive and uplifting,” said MaryAnn Brady, the Manager at the Healthy Moms Program. “We want to kind of take the focus off that violence, even if it’s for a few hours, just to give everybody something positive to take part in.”

The event also connected families with the multitude of resources in Rochester that are there to support them. One of the programs was the ‘Do The Right Thing Program,’ which recognizes kids doing good things in the community.

“We’re always looking for kids in Monroe County, kindergarten through senior year, that have gone above and beyond and done the right thing, whether they help their neighbors, whether they help first responders, helped other students in school, stop some bullying, things like that,” said Laurie Kingsley-Henry, the Program Coordinator for the Do the Right Thing program. 

Kingsley-Henry said ‘Do the Right Thing’ can help bridge the gap between the community and the Rochester Police department, and it also encourages and inspires good behavior among children.

“We don’t want the bad behavior to continue. We want the good behavior. So if we can find the kids that are doing the right thing, and give them a little extra, we have great sponsors that give them tons of prizes too, then hopefully that’ll all catch on just like fire and go through a school and neighborhood, a community, and we will all be a little bit better for it,” Kingsley-Henry said. 

Worth More Nation was also in attendance at the fair — an organization that empowers and lifts up girls and young women who have been impacted by trauma, loss, or who are in foster care.

“We have initiatives that we feel are really important to any girl or young woman to help them what we call ‘rise up and sparkle,” said Sandy Arena, the Founding Director of Worth More Nation. “We have a Fancy Frog closets with gowns and dresses that we give away to the community and hopefully to a lot of people here today.”

The organization also takes part in Miss Swarthmore Nation pageants, which help teach girls a variety of life-long skills.

“We teach them poise and presentation skills, how to walk on stage, how to speak in a microphone and introduce themselves, and hopefully they are skills that will stay with a girl no matter what she’s going through,” Arena said. “I’ve seen through my daughter’s work in pageantry, how confident-building it is and how it really can make a difference in a young lady’s life.”

Friday’s Family Resource Fair proved the Rochester community is filled with more love than hate. Brady said she hopes families left knowing there are a variety of local programs to help them.

“I’m hoping that they learn about programs that they’ve never heard about and I hope that they take away from this event today that there are a lot of people out here who care and want to bring support and help to them,” Brady said. 

The Healthy Mom’s Program serves women who are pregnant or parenting a child up to the age of four, through behavioral health services, home health care, therapy, and education. You can learn more about the program by clicking here.