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Teach a man to fish...
Resource center educates for the betterment of youthBy TERESA HAMMOND

From bread to bed linens, better health to health insurance, for the family seeking guidance or assistance in these areas they are sure to find it at Parent Resource Center, Modesto.

“I’ll always say our basis was casseroles and coffee pots,” said Mary Lynn Lebow, a case manager and site supervisor, speaking of her bond with the Rhoades family.

New to the area, the couple had dropped into the center location at 530 S. Santa Cruz in Modesto inquiring on classes and services.

“We had nothing,” Seetal Rhoades said of her family’s relocation to the Central Valley. “We had started all over. You miss the simple things. I missed baking and he (husband James) missed a coffee pot.”

Lebow said that within the week some essentials were located for the family. Admitting to being hesitant at first, Seetal Rhoades shared the appreciation for the kitchen basics.

At the time of this introduction, the Rhoades’ middle child Timmy had just turned one year old. Through one of the parenting classes offered by the center, Seetal Rhoades was able to meet new moms. The childcare services offered gave Timmy exposure to others and older brother Alex had the opportunity to play with other children.

“He would cry the whole time he was in there,” Rhoades said of her middle child. “Mary Lynn would say it will be okay. He was not really used to being away from mommy and daddy that much. We were both better for it.”

When the couple became pregnant with their daughter Victoria, they returned for the Healthy Birth Outcome classes. When insurance was hesitant to refer son Timmy for testing for a genetic disorder, the center helped as well.

“That’s been the biggest impact on me,” James Rhoades said of the center. “Having a person in the neighborhood we can go to.”

“It’s like this network with branches everywhere,” Seetal Rhoades added. “She’s (Lebow) got connections everywhere.”

“We work with a lot of different agencies to help our families,” Lebow said of the connections. “If we don’t offer the service here, chances are we know someone who does.”

James Rhoades attended the parenting classes as well, though he wasn’t sure he originally wanted to take them.

Feeling knowledgeable without assistance, he said ultimately he found the classes were beneficial.

“Even if you think you already know it, give it a chance. There really is a bunch of stuff I learned. It’s not going to hurt to check it out.”

Lebow has worked with the Parent Resource Center for five years. She currently works with 34 families, as well as facilitates a parenting class and pregnancy support group. She loves her work.
“The families I work with, to see them be successful, that’s what makes this all worth it,” she said.

The Parent Resource Center is a private, non-profit, child abuse prevention agency, offering support to parents via in-home mentoring, classes, educational opportunities and additional referral services. Many of its programs are grant funded.

“The majority of our funding comes from grants and generosity of the community,” Executive Director Susan Mendieta Beasley said. “We have a very active Board of Directors and wonderful volunteers.”

Beasley shared her pride in what the case managers as well as volunteers offer to the community and said she is continually buoyed by the generosity through donations both of time and material nature.

“The children,” the director said of what she looks forward to each day at work. “Children are innocent in the world and it’s up to the agencies like ours and the mothers and fathers to help provide the best for the children. We need to do the best that we can for them.”

The Parent Resource Center has two locations: 811 5th St., Modesto and a satellite location at 530 S. Santa Cruz Ave., Modesto. Information regarding services offered may be found at


To arrange a meeting or for more information, call 549-8193 or 549-8822.