With heavy hearts, Baby Bungalow staff, parents and longtime supporters said farewell to Program Director Patricia Pead at a goodbye gathering held on Thursday, March 30th. After 17 years of leading Baby Bungalow, Patricia has stepped down to focus on working with families directly as a Parent Educator for our Positive Parenting Partnership (P3) program.

Patricia began her career with Champions for Children (then the Child Abuse Council) in 2000. Her degree was in early childhood education, but she had taken time away from work for the prior 8 years to raise her child, which made her a perfect fit for a parent educator position. She was initially interested in Parents as Teachers, and received her certification as a PAT Educator.

However, the organization soon had other plans for her. The purchase and remodel of a historic bungalow on Azeele Street in South Tampa brought about the opportunity for a new program focused on parent-child education in playgroup settings: Baby Bungalow. To get the program off the ground, the Council needed a highly detail-oriented person with a childcare background, and Patricia fit the bill to a tee.

“I always say that there’s no such thing as coincidences,” she said.

She started out part-time, though she admits that her devotion to the new program had her practically always working. Opening doors on March 31, 2000, Baby Bungalow received its first call a day later from an interested parent who saw a story about the program on the news. From that point on, Baby Bungalow grew up fast.

Patricia’s focus on nurturing and positivity led her to be instrumental in bringing Brazelton Touchpoints training to Baby Bungalow and the rest of the organization in 2012. Touchpoints focuses on guiding caregivers to make good decisions in parenting by helping them come to conclusions themselves.

“It’s all about meeting parents where they are and walking with them while they parent,” Patricia said.

As Baby Bungalow grew, so did the parents and children attending playgroups. While the program was initially focused on infants, parents who had fallen in love with the playgroups asked for programming to accommodate toddlers, and Patricia created and implemented the innovative practice of hiring “veteran” parents to lead playgroups.

Meanwhile, plans were in place to expand programming to other locations, leading to a pilot playgroup at a tiny resource center in University Square Mall. With support from the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County, playgroups can now be found at 10 different locations, with more being added.

“We’ve really transitioned from a location to a service,” Patricia said. “Nowadays, the original Bungalow “mothership” often serves as a kind of Petri dish of sorts for new playgroups.”

While Patricia is returning to more direct services, she leaves behind a thriving, far-reaching program with a devoted staff, all thanks to her hard work over nearly 2 decades. And, of course, she’ll never be far away.

From all of us at Champions, thank you, Patricia, for your leadership and dedication to children and families.