Q&Q With Kids FIRST


Since 1994, Kids FIRST, a local children’s advocacy center serving children who have been victims of, or witness to, crime—has provided Lane County’s children a warm, child-focused one-stop location for children to receive needed services. Learn more from Executive Director, Sarah Stewart, and Development Director, Jaclyn Lemonds, about this organization and the importance of this small business in protecting our region’s kids!

How long have you been in business and what drives you to serve our community?

S: I’ve always been driven to support children and families impacted by trauma— my first introduction to KF was when I visited the center as a child client. Our mission deeply resonates with me, so there is no more important or meaningful work.

J: Kids FIRST is a community staple and an integral part of the first-response team to child abuse. I’m driven to support this work because I’m so proud to be part of a team that supports children and families on their worst days.

 Are there new programs/initiatives you are investing in or providing for our community?

 S: Yes! In 2022, with community support, we launched an onsite mental health program at Kids FIRST. Referrals to local therapists had waitlists of 10-12+ weeks, if the kids went at all. To address this need, the KF Mental Health Program was born. This way, we can ensure that kids impacted by abuse are seen promptly as we are the only Children’s Advocacy Center serving Lane County.

Has any business become an unexpected companion/partner?

 J: We have many incredible partnerships! Jane at Edgewater Furniture and Ken with Rexius/The Hope Project are great examples. When we have a family experiencing something really tough, we know we can call them for support. They’ve donated beds, microwaves, couches, bikes, and more. They are gems in the community and we are so fortunate to have that high level of support.

S: Our partnerships with our multidisciplinary team partners are critical—law enforcement, child welfare, schools, the District Attorney’s Office, and more! We rely on their involvement to ensure children make it to Kids FIRST for an assessment.

How can the business community support or engage with you?

 S: We love to engage with folks who are not familiar with our services because it grows community awareness. Our dream would be to mention Kids FIRST in a room and have everyone already be familiar with our name and services. Most folks are not aware of who we are or what we do until they find themselves utilizing our services, or serving on a grand jury at Kids FIRST. We want to change that.

 J: A great way to get involved with Kids FIRST is through event sponsorship. We have only a handful of events each year and we are always thrilled when new folks join us! Our largest event of the year is KF Winetasia—a food and wine event held at Silvan Ridge Winery (July 27, 2024). To register, or learn more about the event, visit kfwinetasia.com. Please e-mail jaclyn@kidsfirstcenter.net if you are interested in volunteering!

 How has your collaboration with the Chamber impacted your business?

 J: The Chamber has been a big connector for us. Our staff members attend Chamber events and we lean on Chamber connections to help support events. For instance, some of our vendors at KF Winetasia are also Chamber members and we learned about some of them through the Chamber!

 S: It’s amazing to have friends at the Chamber who we can call for support or ideas. We even have a Chamber team member on our Board of Directors (Hi, Amanda!).

Published On: May 29, 2024
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