Falling In Love With Layla’s House
“Knowledge is power, community is strength and positive attitude is everything.”
A few months ago I heard about Layla’s House for the first time and with little knowledge of the organization’s purpose, I visited the learning center to meet the staff and some of the children. Upon leaving, I understood why Stacey and Brad Chais, owners of Chais Realty and Team Chais, hold the organization so close to their hearts. Layla’s House is a learning center that provides child-learning opportunities to caregivers as well as resources for expectant mothers or parents of children up to age 5. They strongly believe that early childhood years are key to building a strong foundation for future success and they work to provide a foundation for children to enter school ready to learn. This is demonstrated by offering services such as prenatal and newborn education groups, childbirth experience courses, child development groups, community events, and more. And that’s whats drew the Chais’ in- the passion of an organization driven to enrich children’s lives and well being at such early ages.
Brad and Stacey began their roles as sponsors two years ago, after attending a Baby University class for the first time. Baby University is a seven-week prenatal and newborn parent education group that covers what expecting parents need to know in preparation for the arrival of their baby. The series explores topics such as forming healthy attachments, newborn care, childbirth education, child & car seat safety, promoting healthy brain development through play, and what to ask the pediatrician about your baby’s health & nutrition. The energy of the expecting parents had both Brad and Stacey hooked, they loved watching the involvement of the fathers and their interactions with the expecting moms. Showing their support for the series, they now provide the graduation gifts and a healthy celebration dinner to all participants held accountable to fully completing the seven-week program.
Aside from Baby University, Stacey and Brad show their support by providing & serving food at various holiday parties, dropping off supplies, volunteering with activities, providing gifts for the children, and helping to set-up/clean-up for events. I recently got to attend an Easter Event held by Layla’s House with the Chais’, where we supplied food and set up a bubble blowing and easter egg craft station for the children. With Stacey on duty to distribute the food, it was up to Brad and I to ensure bubbles were blown and little faces were smiling. The pure joy that the children displayed was absolu-
tely contagious as they bounced around from station to station, took turns with the Easter bunny, and chased each other around in the open field. Reflecting on days like this allows you to appreciate not only your community, but the lasting effects that stem from pouring love into it. And that’s what makes it easy for Stacey and Brad to support Layla’s House- because they believe in giving back and staying involved with the communities of which they own rental properties, to build relationships and interact with the families. Asking Stacey of the biggest reward that comes from her involvement with Layla’s House she answered, “The biggest reward is watching the children interact, learn, laugh and just be happy. I often see young children all alone literally in the streets in Sulphur Springs. Sadly, Hillsborough County consistently ranks as the highest in the state for the most reported and confirmed cases of child abuse and neglect. Children who are abused or neglected are significantly more likely to face impaired socioemotional development, poor physical health, substance abuse, and an array of emotional and psychological issues. They are also 3 times more likely to continue the cycle of abuse later in life. Knowing that I can make a difference in a child’s life in a nurturing, positive way is the best reward I can receive from all our efforts to support.”
But there’s a team that fights to help the children, families and learning center as a whole work towards success. Interviewing Alisha Williams, a Child Development Specialist at Layla’s House, and some of her co-workers, I found some of the answers for why they choose to do what they do. “I decided to work here because I knew I wanted to be a part of a program that gets the bigger picture of helping caregivers to have a positive impact with their children.” Asking them about the positive impact the organization has on the community they answered, “Layla’s House is a safe place for caregivers to bring their children to play, interact with other children, and to gain knowledge about child and healthy family development.” The entire team was in agreement that playing part in the children’s growth and building relationships with the families was one of their favorite and most rewarding parts about working at Layla’s House. The holds true for Brad and Stacey as well, and they feel very fortunate to be able to sponsor and volunteer with the many programs Layla’s House offers.
Building a strong community means working to support each other, and Layla’s House encourages and practices this message with every child and family that walks through their door. Stacey and Brad are proud to support and sponsor Layla’s House and admire the care and education that the team provides to the entire community. Tampa Bay thanks you for all that you do, Layla’s House!