Best of Springfield

BEST CHILDREN'S SUPPORT ORGANIZATION

Mini O'Beirne Crisis Nursery

click to enlarge PHOTO COURTESY MINI O'BEIRNE CRISIS NURSERY
Photo courtesy Mini O'Beirne Crisis Nursery

"One of the reasons I applied for this job is that I couldn't imagine a place so integral to our community being without an executive director at this time," says Jennifer McMillin, who took the helm of the Mini O'Beirne Crisis Nursery (MOCN) four short months ago. "I'm so grateful to be here to help."

For over 30 years, MOCN has been a steadfast part of our community, providing emergency childcare services. Over 2,000 children, from birth to age seven, are cared for each year by 13 full- and part-time staff, as well as community volunteers, at no cost.

MOCN is named for founder Marinda "Mini" O'Beirne, who worked as an advocate for abused children. Though O'Beirne passed away before her dream of a crisis nursery could be fulfilled, a steering committee carried on her work, and MOCN is named in her honor.

In addition to emergency childcare, MOCN also provides other services free of charge: parent education classes and support groups, crisis counseling, medical and developmental screenings, follow-up home visits and referrals for food, clothing and shelter. MOCN's basic needs pantry provides diapers, wipes and formula. MOCN advocates for families, confronts racism and is committed to "building a future, both inside and outside our walls, that is more diverse, community-driven and equitable for all," as stated in a message from the board of directors.

"We've been affected by COVID," says McMillan, noting that volunteers are no longer allowed due to restrictions by state agencies. MOCN has altered its childcare schedule, allocating one staff person per family. Children can no longer play with unrelated children at MOCN.

"Even before COVID, we had to turn away families due to capacity," states McMillan. MOCN prioritizes those with immediate emergency needs and tries to work with scheduling to provide care for those with less immediate needs.

As many nonprofits look at creative ways of raising money without being able to host large fundraising events, McMillan notes, "We've been lucky, and the community knows how important our work is."

While the Children's Holiday Store, MOCN's biggest fundraiser, will not happen this year, McMillan says they will announce an alternative to this event in the coming weeks. "We're still able to meet our mission, and we are looking at other ways of raising funds."

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