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Fall Fest puts families first

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HEALTHY BEGINNINGS: A Marion General Hospital employee talks with a family at the Fall Fest.
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INTERACTIVE: A family learns about the offerings Early Headstart offers during the annual Fall Fest.

by Sam Jones - ctreport@indy.rr.com

The Headstart program hosted their annual Fall Fest at the Marion YMCA Wednesday.

This festival focuses primarily on health and safety services, with an abundance of activities for kids and vendors for parents.

The Fall Fest is open to the public, and all families with children ages 0-12 are invited each year.

Headstart looks to provide a family event that can both entertain kids and educate parents, while providing resource outlets for families from all over Grant and Blackford counties.

Kerri Wortinger, the director of Little Giants Headstart Preschool, said she has seen many positive results from the Fall Fest over the years.

“We had 540 participants in 2018,” Wortinger said. “We’re likely to have even more this year. In addition, there are close to 50 vendors this year. All vendors aim to educate families and children on health and safety.”

Headstart has two different operations. Early Headstart of Carey Services works with children ages 0-3, and Marion Community Schools’ Little Giants Headstart Preschool works with children in preschool and kindergarten. 

“Our joint partnership creates a great continuity for families in the program,” Wortinger said.

Necole Pfeiffer, an active participant in the Fall Fest and mother of four, said this annual festival was a great opportunity for her family.

“We love coming every year,” Pfeiffer said. “It’s nice that it’s educational and fun for the kids at the same time. My kids have been in Little Giants for 8 years now. We’ve come every year.”

Not only does the festival provide entertainment for families, but services for parents range from car seat checks to hearing and vision screenings to affordable housing connections.

The Affordable Housing Corporation was one of the companies present at the fair.

“We look to provide a lot of programs for affordable housing,” said Stacy Grindle, community coordinator for Affordable Housing. “We have connections in several subdivisions and apartment complexes for low income families looking for affordable housing.”

In addition to finding housing, Affordable Housing has other services for hire.

“We have several saving programs for furthering education, paying down payments on houses, making repairs for the house, or even to start or grow a business,” Grindle said.

At the festival, it’s clear that family comes first.

“Because of the Fall Fest, we’re able to reach hundreds of people at a time and offer them the services that they might need,” Grindle said.