Southside Family Nurturing Center

Winter/Spring 2015- Volume 10, Issue 1


A Note from Our Director

Dear Friends of Southside Family Nurturing Center,

From my new desk, in this strong and beautiful place, I extend my first note of gratitude to you as Executive Director. Thank you for all that you have done and will continue to do to support and nurture children and families through our therapeutic early childhood education and home visiting programs!

I have already had the pleasure of connecting with many of you and look forward to more of that with individuals, public and private organizations, and foundations over the next few months. I esteem the personal connection and find the interactions helpful to understanding your passion and connection to Southside.
Thank you for welcoming me to Southside Family Nurturing Center, for sharing your gifts, resources, and talents to accomplish our collective mission, and for entrusting me to carry forward this organization’s legacy of community based service in the Phillips community. Although I am just beginning to understand the history and complexity of this organization, I see our mission in action each day in the present.

“Together with families and communities, we nurture children, build on family strengths and find alternatives to violence.”

This is truly a loving and compassionate community with the capacity to change the future for children, today and for generations to come.

With Peace,

Julie Ellefson
Executive Director


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Southside awarded Distinguished Service Award from MnAEYC!

We are very proud to announce that in January Southside was awarded the Distinguished Service Award from the Minnesota Chapter of National Association for the Education of Young Children (MnAEYC). We are truly honored to be presented with this award and would like to thank everyone who has supported Southside for over forty years.

Southside was nominated for this honor by Mike Huber from Seward Child Care Center, with whom we also partner for staff training and development, and the award was accepted by SSFNC's former director and current board member Sandy Heidemann. Sandy also served as President of MnAEYC from 2001-2002. At the award ceremony, these kind words were said about Southside:

“[D]espite all of the recognition from outside sources, the most important thing Southside has done these past 40 years is provide a cocoon of profound hope, encouragement, and belief in each and every child and family that walks through the front doors where it reads, "Peace to All Who Enter Here".”

In 2014, Southside renewed our accreditation status with NAEYC which also ensures that we receive a Four Star Rating from Parent Aware. This reaccreditation was awarded with the highest scores for our programs and operations that we have ever received and is valid through 2020. We have been accredited by NAEYC since 1995, and were one of the first programs in the state to do so.

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Open Eye joins Arts in Action

The Arts in Action program was established in 2005, and we are so pleased to see it evolve and expand into a new partnership with Open Eye Figure Theatre this past school year. As part of this year's program, Open Eye is providing two puppet shows from their Driveway Tour, each followed by an arts workshop for parents and kids, as well as a private performance at their theater.

In September, Open Eye came to Southside for a Family Day in our backyard with their puppet show “Tucker’s Robot”, and we cannot wait to see them again in June! In February, Southside families ventured over to Open Eye's theater on a special Family Night for a private performance of "Nothing is Something" and our parents and children loved the experience! Southside families are not often able to attend live theater and these shows are equally enjoyable for parents and teachers as it is for the children.

Southside also continues to partner with In the Heart of the Beast once a month to provide arts activities in the preschool classroom. This year's Heart of the Beast show at Southside will be happening this month!

Since its inception, the Arts in Action program has been supported by funding from the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council and we are so grateful for their continued support of our work to bring high quality arts programming to Southside's children and parents. These activities are made possible by the voters of Minnesota through grants from the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.


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Ways to Help

Volunteer Opportunities:

  • Family Night Kids Assistant
  • Family Night Kitchen Assistant
  • Toddler Classroom: Storytelling, Science Projects, Dancing/Movement, Music
  • Preschool Classroom: Dancing, Music, Naturalist in the summer

Spring Wish List:

  • paper plates
  • food coloring
  • play doh
  • cross shredder
  • washable thick crayola markers
  • cardstock
  • diapers

Don’t have to time shop or drop off a donation? We can always use a Target gift card to purchase items ourselves!

For more info, contact Julia at (612) 721-2762 or send an email. Thank you!

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Get to Know our new Executive Director, Julie Ellefson

We are so excited to have Julie Ellefson join the Southside family as our new Executive Director. We hope you enjoy getting to know her in this interview and we look forward to continuing to introduce her to all of you, our strongest supporters.

Tell us a little bit about your background. What were you doing before you came to Southside?
My heart has always been drawn to innovative not-for-profit organizations that support and advocate for at-risk children and families. In my social justice journey, I have been honored to hold leadership positions with several organizations and communities committed to ending violence and oppression, including; the Family Violence Network, Lake Elmo, MN (1994-2001); CornerHouse Interagency Child Abuse Training and Evaluation Center (2003-2008) Minneapolis MN; and the Committee Against Domestic Abuse, Inc., Mankato, MN (2010-2013).

What attracted you to this position and SSFNC in particular? 
So, I think this is really a question about how our individual and organizational missions align, yes?

I value SSFNC’s holistic, therapeutic, and family centered approach to building the capacity of very young children to thrive and grow. Looking at this program through a public health lens, I was particularly taken with Southside’s model for early childhood education for marginalized children, children living in poverty, and at elevated risk for negative long-term outcomes. I love that SSFNC is community based, tight to its original mission, and an early innovator in utilizing evidenced based curricula in the delivery of school and home-based/home-visiting services. 

How do you see your role as SSFNC's new Executive Director? What skills and experience do you think you will bring to Southside?
I bring a fairly strong understanding of the intersections between poverty, trauma, and early childhood development. I have extensive program development experience related to legal advocacy and legislative platform development, strategic planning, working collaboratively across systems, and tailoring organizational services to meet the diverse needs of families in terms of culture, ability, language, and accessibility.

What have you been most impressed with in your first weeks here?
First and foremost the Children!  It has been delightful to see young beings, full of mind, body, and spirit explore their own abilities, communicate cross-culturally, practice daily routines, and show pride in their own growth! They are a true testament to the nurturing model practiced by teachers, therapists, and parent workers every day at SSFNC.

Second, I am impressed and thankful for the familial culture at SSFNC, and our commitment to building trusting relationships with children as well as parents.  Compassion and respect permeate child, adult, and cross-cultural interactions at Southside.

Is there anything that you want to share about your experience so far?
I have been blessed to have Barb Olson at my side for my first few weeks. What wisdom, insight, and leadership strengths! Our transition time together has been an invaluable foundation for beginning in this leadership role. Barb is and has been a remarkably graceful, compassionate, and gracious mentor and servant to SSFNC’s mission.

My commitment to SSFNC is to continue to listen and learn from our founders, families, staff, board, and the communities we serve, and to commit that learning to strategic leadership and growing our family centered mission.

When I walk through SSFNC’s doors each morning, I feel a great sense of safety and kindness, and I remind myself about the work that we have come together to do with families. Thank you for this opportunity!

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Join us for our new Summer Concert for Kids!

We are very excited to announce a new event for Southside! The Summer Concert for Kids is a new event to raise money and awareness for SSFNC. It will be an all-ages show with family friendly music by The Bunny Clogs, Clementown, and the Roe Family Singers on Sunday, June 7th at the Cedar Cultural Center.

Southside is thrilled to present this concert following our great success over the past three years with our Sing Out for Kids concert hosted by Dessa held in early fall. During the concert there will also be face painting, balloon animals, and a silent auction! Bring the whole family and spend the day supporting Southside and celebrating local musicians.

When: Sunday, June 7. Doors open at 11am; music from 11:30am-1:30pm
Where: Cedar Cultural Center
Tickets: $16 for adults, $10 for children 3-12 years; children under 2 are FREE! Purchase tickets at

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Tributes Received

In honor of...
Marty and Linda Haugen: Dan Smith, John and Barbara Fox, Kristen and Cory Powell, Anonymous
Jane Kretzman: Sandy Heidemann and James Stengel
Diana Arriaga Miller: James Nastoff, William Allen, Zohar Sachs
Cheryl Mutschler: Jay and Jennifer Mutschler
Molly O'Hara: Anonymous
Barb Olson: Julia Miller
Kristen and Cory Powell: Dick and Helen Powell
Kendra Ristow: Janice Austin
Kim Stephan: Anonymous

In memory of...
Agnes Regan: Eileen McCormack, Regan McCormack, Aine McCormack
Margaret Shepard: Dave and Bev Blinde

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