‘She is really wanting  to understand others’

Grapevine Center: Educator wins family support award

FRANCESTOWN — A Francestown woman, credited with the ability to help parents see life through their children’s eyes, is the inaugural recipient of the Family Support New Hampshire Kay Sidway Award for Family Support.

A parenting educator and preschool teacher at the Grapevine Family and Community Resource Center in Antrim since 2000, Carol Lunan received this new award at the Family Support New Hampshire’s annual meeting in Penacook on Oct. 15, for her years of work helping families and especially being a good listener.

“She really listens and has a deep respect for other people,” Executive Director at the Grapevine Kristen Vance said Monday. “She is really wanting to understand others. She has a true interest in parents.”

When asked what makes Lunan such a great listener, Vance said it’s because she is actively learning while she listens. “She is really here to learn. When she’s listening, she’s trying to learn. I think she’s aware she’s learning when she listens,” Vance said.

Lunan was nominated by Vance and the executive director at the River Center in Peterborough, Margaret Nelson, who said Lunan is a very-involved and passionate person who is well-respected, and has helped a lot of people. “Carol is a good listener. She believes that children are to be respected and heard. She is an advocate for children and parents,” Nelson said in an interview Thursday.

For over 10 years Lunan has facilitated parent support groups and was involved with the early home support visiting program, still offered at the River Center. Presently Lunan is working on special projects at the River Center as a parent educator.

“She’s a good resource for parents and children,” Nelson said. “Lunan has a good way about her, she is always moving people to a better place.”

Nelson said that if Lunan is working with a child who is misbehaving, she will listen to what’s going on, try to find out why and give them choices appropriate for the child’s developmental level.

“I appreciate the way she works with folks,” Nelson added. “When she talks about children, there’s a big smile across her face. She’s optimistic but not naive.”

Although Lunan’s work can be described as a parent educator, in an interview Monday Lunan said she sees herself as a facilitator. “I help parents see what they want for their family and what’s really important to them deep down,” Lunan said. “I try to find out what they are dealing with, what’s working or not working, and just try to have an open conversation and clarify what’s important [for the family] and how they want to move forward.”

After 27 years in the family support field, four things Lunan tries to do when she is working with a family is facilitate a conversation, encourage, support and question. She said she tries to help people find that “ah-ha” moment about something deep inside someone that has meaning. “When you work from there, it’s honest,” Lunan said. With a Master’s degree in early childhood and elementary education from Antioch University, Lunan also currently teaches two early education classes at River Valley Community College Academic Center in Keene.

After doing this type of work for so long, Lunan said she wants to keep the energy and excitement of it going.

She said, “It’s all about relationship. Being in a relationship with people doing the same thing you are, sharing the joys, challenges, from person to person and parent to parent.”

Lindsey Arceci can be reached at 924-7172, ext. 232, or

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