CommuniCare Health Centers’ Salud Clinic experienced a fire causing significant damage to the child development backyard, no one was hurt
In the early morning of Thursday, July 16, 2020 CommuniCare Health Centers was alerted that there was a fire in the Child Development backyard area at Salud Clinic, located at 500 B Jefferson Blvd in West Sacramento, California. The fire resulted in a great deal of damage to the outdoor play area. “While it is extremely sad to see our outdoor child development area damaged, with so many memories gone, we are fortunate that no one was hurt,” said Sara Gavin, Chief Behavioral Health Officer of CommuniCare Health Centers.
The Behavioral Health Department of CommuniCare Health Centers moved into their current location in West Sacramento in 2007, to co-locate with Primary Care. With this move, the Perinatal Day Treatment Program, a Substance Use Program for mothers that offers a free-of-cost child development program concurrently was now able to offer a large outdoor area for infant, toddlers and preschoolers to enjoy outdoor play. “I began my employment with CommuniCare in 2007 as a clinician in the Perinatal Day Treatment Program, a few weeks after we moved into our new space. I have seen over the last 12 years, the transformation of the outdoor space, as employees, and community partners have contributed to its development. With the help from many CommuniCare employees and community partners, throughout the years, the outdoor area grew, and elements were added to support the development of children, including a playhouse and sand pit built by Northern California Construction Training Program,” shared Gavin.
CommuniCare’s staff had also contributed to the space, by adding a garden and engaging in grants to support developing a space that was nurturing, fun and supported play. CommuniCare’ s Behavioral Health team including, behavioral health and substance use clinicians and child development staff have also spent countless hours with mothers and children in that space, and witnessed firsthand the development of children and dramatic changes and personal growth from clients on their path in recovery. The space was deeply personal for so many.
Dennis Hollingsworth, LMFT at CommuniCare Health Centers, who is retiring next month, is a clinician within the Perinatal Day Treatment Program and has worked with countless parents, children and families throughout the years. He was given the title of “Salud Behavioral Health Gardener” as he nurtured and grew a beautiful garden. Reflecting on this recent fire, as he prepares for his retirement at CommuniCare, he shared:
“Many years of fun and work in that yard…Empathy. Love. Persistence. Tears. Attachment. CDP kids jumping into small pools. Kids watering and planting. Wall painting…couples and families. Kids in the playhouse. Sand play and the water tray. Tricycles and walkies. Infants on the covered patio. Mats and floor time. Hands-on parent coaching. Play kitchens and fantasy meals. Chalk on the sidewalks. Beach balls. Cakes and parties. PNDT moms and Child labs. Kids playing impromptu baseball with foam balls and a wacky old man. Throwing the football…Lastly, great place to go for some peace and quiet, and to stand in the rain! Will miss it much. My self-proclaimed title as the Salud BH gardener is laid to rest.”
Although the memories cannot be replaced, CommuniCare is committed to rebuild this space with the same spirit of love, play and nurturing, as we had done before. The children and families we serve deserve it, now more than ever.
Child Development Playground Before Fire