Archive for April, 2014

U B Blue, 2?

Deserving of a Blue Ribbon, Part 2Go Blue in April logo Turn the Town Blue squared

by Just Add Kids Founder,

Paula Herrmann

Well, April is just about wrapped up, and a couple of campaigns I’m involved with will dwindle down with the promotions. Not that the issues go away…sadly not. Last week, in JAK Chat, I described my work with the Turn the Town Blue Campaign, a Kenosha county-wide initiative to share the light on Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Month in “Deserving of a Blue Ribbon”. Click the green link, in case you missed it!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Part of the focus of this campaign is not only to lace the community with blue ribbons, yet to celebrate strong families by appreciating all the strengths that the families in our community possess and commit to, as well as provide resources that help families become even stronger.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Earlier in the month, we held a Celebrate Families dinner event where we announced 4 families who had been nominated and selected for Strong Families Recognition. Let’s meet them! Read more…

  • Betty Collins, children: Breniya, Malcolm and Hezekiah

Betty and her family have overcome homelessness and financial strain through community resources. Betty has progressed in medical care management, parenting knowledge and child development to demonstrate what a strong family looks like.

  • Joel and Angela Gross, children: Alex, Aris, Naomi, Adriana and Maxwell

This blended family of seven had their world flipped upside down when youngest, Max, was born premature with life-threatening complication. After being born Max spent weeks in the NICU in Milwaukee. This family had to reach out to several community resources to help both Max and themselves. Angela has completed her bachelor’s degree and this family has learned that if they work together, as a family, they can overcome all obstacles.

  • Tissa Watson, children: Damien, Ayiana and Drake

Tissa and her family fled an abusive relationship and support systems they had in Illinois to start a new life in Kenosha, WI. Tissa had to start over and rebuild everything for her family. Tissa has been steadily employed for a year, in the same home they moved into from shelter, her children are doing well in school and they are involved in extracurricular activities.

  • Alicia Washington, children: Kevin and Trinity

This family hit bottom when Alicia’s mentor, solid support and brother passed away. Alicia left her emotionally abusive marriage and returned to Kenosha, WI where she was raised. Alicia and her family have participated with community resources and church to receive support. Alicia will graduate with her HSED in May and plans to start Gateway this summer. Alicia has prioritized her children and their education. She is trying to be the best parent possible for her family.

These families were nominated by staff members of agencies that have relationships with families in the community. These are families who they believe are strong, have overcome obstacles and represent the 5 Protective Factors that strengthen families and protect children: 

1 –Nurturing and Attachment

Children’s early experiences of being nurtured and developing positive bonds with adult caregivers have a profound effect on their ability to grow up to be emotionally and socially competent.  When children and parents have a close, trusting relationship, the children grow up believing they will be loved, accepted and protected.  These children are better prepared for life.

2 – Knowledge of child development and parenting 

Parents with knowledge about parenting and their own child’s development have more appropriate expectations and use more developmentally appropriate guidance techniques. Parents who understand how children grow and develop can set up an appropriate environment for them to flourish. 

3 – Concrete support in times of need 

There are factors outside the family unit that affect the family’s ability to care for their children.  Families need food, shelter, clothing, transportation, access to affordable health care, and quality child care to parent appropriately.  Some families need help finding resources to address issues of addiction or domestic violence.  Helping connect families to needed resources reduces stress and helps parents cope. 

4 – Social connections 

Whenever a family is isolated from family or community, the children are more at risk. Trusted family members and caring friends provide the emotional support parents need to face the challenges of parenting.  Parents also learn coping skills and experiences different parenting styles through interactions with other parents.  All parents need help sometimes. 

5 – Parent Resilience 

Resilience is the ability to bounce back from difficulties. Resilient parents are able to recognize and acknowledge difficulties while maintaining a positive attitude.  They can creatively solve problems, and effectively address challenges. When parents are resilient, they are less likely to take their frustrations out on their children. 

The information in this handout came from a publication called, “Strengthening Families and Communities,” by the Department of Health & Human Services.  Visit the website at

We congratulate the families highlighted above. And as parents, we too can always use some tips and tools to help us keep our cool. Try these…

blue ribbon template 2014


If you’re on Facebook, please “LIKE” our page, and stay in the know on the Turn the Town Blue Campaign.




Leave a comment »


Deserving of a Blue RibbonGo Blue in April logo Turn the Town Blue squared

by Just Add Kids Founder,

Paula Herrmann

I’m always looking for a good party to crash! A few years back, I ran across this group of Kenosha County peeps that rallied (and continues to do so)behind a blue ribbon campaign in recognition and support of Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Month. That being the month of April, obviously. Being a resident of Racine, though a stakeholder in the health and well-being of families in the county, I thought this would be a good fit for me personally and for my business, Just Add Kids.

Thankfully, our family is strong. Mine and my husband’s relationship is intact. We are resourceful and have a strong network of family, friends, and community. Becoming an active member in the Turn the Town Blue Campaign community collaborative introduced me to the front line people that work day in and day out with families that are struggling to keep it together. Read more…

I could rewrite what was well written by the Kenosha News regarding our campaign, rather, I’ll link you here to the article published on April 6th, 2014 “Campaign seeks to prevent child abuse, neglect”

So go figure, my role in the collaborative is that of marketing/promotion. If you’re on Facebook, please “LIKE” our page, and find out how you as a community member can play a role in preventing child abuse and neglect.

Here are some awesome actions you can use in your own family, workplace, and community this month and year ’round!

Go Blue flyer with contact info 2014 Turn the Town Blue

Comments (1) »

I See Orange

The EXPO! Afterglow

Just Add Kids EXPO! 2014

Just Add Kids EXPO! 2014

by Just Add Kids Founder,

Paula Herrmann

I stayed up late last night, taking waaay too long to formulate a letter of appreciation to the folks at Racine Unified School District. I sent it on to 7 recipients. I’m going to share it here with you.

Please read more…



                                                                                                                                                                                                                     On behalf of myself, the Just Add Kids team, and our community at large, I’d like to thank each and every one of you for your support and partnership with this past Saturday’s Just Add Kids EXPO!.

For the third year in a row, we’ve proven that when private and public entities work together with a common goal, great things can happen.  And boy, did they ever!

As a Racine mom of 4 kids, I launched Just Add Kids in the fall of 2009, with the mission of connecting our community’s families via easily accessible platforms to area businesses/organizations that provide kid-oriented, family-friendly products/services and/or activities/events. I envisioned bringing Just Add Kids to life by producing a local signature hands-on fun and learning event that would be free for families to attend. That first humble event took place at Burlington RV’s showroom, when Just Add Kids was just 3 months old.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         This year’s event played host to nearly 100 organizations and drew in around 2,500 attendees. Highlights included the event’s ever-present main stage, where school and other groups, such as the Mitchell Middle School Fashion-Doers, Starbuck Spartan Singers, Gilmore Pom Pons, and Horlick Theater Arts performed. This year, we added the LearningZone! which brought to life a snapshot of RUSD’s Lighted Schoolhouse and AfterZone programs including Chess Academics, Robotics, and Skill-tastic. The LearningZone! also served as information headquarters regarding RUSD Summer School. We also added a PlayZone! area where a number of school PTAs and Boosters raised funds for their organizations by providing carnival games for the kids to play and win prizes. Finally, Case High School Football Booster Club and Case High School Theater group sold concessions to help fund their groups’ activities. What a great, accessible, roomy destination Case became, bringing so many school groups, community organizations, and families together all under one roof!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          In the past 4 days since EXPO! I have been the recipient of countless emails; social media pictures/posts; voice mail messages; and in-person/on the phone compliments, cheers, in general, extremely positive feedback. The Journal Times has provided extensive coverage post-event. The event will be featured on local cable access, Belle TV. I am blown away!

Personally, I want to thank Kathy Dunkerson for her partnership and investment in the growth and evolvement of the event over the past 3 years. To Stacy Tapp for her on-going support in getting the word out through the right, effective pipelines, year after year. And especially to, many times, the unsung heroes of the event, Case Engineer Rick Torres and his team. And most notably, my go to guy all day long during event day, who I dub the “EXPO! Angel”, Ron Hansen.

Fun was had by all, most importantly, the kids and families that came. I can tell you that, yet, I put together a picture collage that gives a snapshot of their experience. Please see attached.

I look forward to our future partnership. Thank you, Racine Unified School District!

Paula Herrmann, Founder
Just Add Kids…Putting Family Fun @ Your Fingertips!
Just Add Kids EXPO! 2014 RUSD pictureboard

Leave a comment »

“When it Reigns. It Poors.”

Just Add Kids Expo 2010

The Unsung Heros of EXPO!

by Just Add Kids Founder,

Paula Herrmann

Not wanting to bore you with the history of the birth and growth of Just Add Kids, but wanting to give you a little background and how we got to where we are today, the eve of the eve (at least that’s what my calendar reads as I type) of the 5th annual, of what is poised to be the biggest Just Add Kids EXPO! yet on Saturday, April 5th. I say I can “sense” it. We shall see!

Our first humble expo took place when Just Add Kids was only 3 months old. We were kindly offered half of the showroom at Burlington RV and Superstore, you know, that BIG camper store right off of I-94 and Highway 20 in Sturtevant. Myself, my then 14 year old daughter, 15 year old niece, my niece’s then boyfriend, an almost 20 year old son of my cousin-in-law, my husband, neighbor Bob, and 2 of my girlfriends. I was honored to have 25 exhibitors and about 300 guests. All went pretty well, until some kid pulled the fire alarm. Read more…The place cleared out as it was the first fire alarm experienced in the building (ever!) and we couldn’t turn it off. Wrapped it up an hour and a half earlier than the scheduled 4pm show close. It was great having all of the first responders show up. Added to our show count. Heros!

Expo 2010 Educators Credit Union picture JAK Expo 2010 2 Expo 2010 Colleen and PamJAK Expo 2010 winnabago

In 2011, our expo took on a little different approach with a unique partnership with the Sturtevant SportsPlex, which also played host to the event. Because of the goal to dually brand both properties, it was called the Active Kids Expo. The event took advantage of families attending their winter session soccer games and we logged in about 500 attendees. Again, I tapped into what was now dubbed my expo bffs, husband, and a few more friends. Second time around, pretty much a snap! We added a tennis shoe drive and collected donations for the kids at Mitchell Elementary School, an initiative of my friend, Carol, who was the gym teacher at the school at that time. Coincidentally, we’re doing another drive for Mitchell. This time collecting for the middle school’s AfterZone program that lost everything in the recent school fire. So thankful for the 35 exhibitors, my volunteer force, those that came specifically for the event and those that were lured in enroute to/from the indoor soccer fieldhouse by some characters from another galaxy. The force was with me!

Game On logo button active kids expo pic r2d2

active kids expo 2011 pic 3 fixed ake logo 01.06.11

The third year of the Just Add Kids EXPO! 2012 brought us together, working in partnership with Racine Unified School District and moving to our third home host of the event….the ginormous Case High School field house. We filled it though! We added a Main Stage, balloon twister, and a set of bounce houses. One for the whee ones, and another for toddlers and up. The highlight of that day, came even before the show opened, as we continued to have electricity blackouts on the west wall where about 7 vendors plugged in for power. Yah, that was the wall those two bounce houses plugged into. So not only would the hum of laptops and other small electrics cease to hum, the bounce houses quickly caved as the air was no longer blowing in. An angel, I kid you not, named Ron came to my rescue after each of the 4 or 5 black out episodes.  About 50 exhibitors participated and the event drew an amazing 2,000 attendees. We saw the return of neighbor Bob, and a little different group of expo bffs. That year, for sure, RUSD was my hero (along with Ron)! That was the year we added some paid sponsors. That extra financial support saved the day!

     Photos Just Add Kids EXPO 2012 Color Mom Beautiful coloring contest area Just Add Kids EXPO 2012 Racine Art Museum RAM on the Road Expo pic 2012 Patch sponsor

 I look back at last year, the Just Add Kids EXPO! 2013 and finally being able to repeat an event in the same locale, it was pretty much a repeat from the year before, with the addition of the Fun Hub which played host to our facepainter, balloon twister and Kohl’s Wild Theater; a few different vendors, and no episodes of deflating bounce houses. Hallelujah! We estimate about the same number of guests as the year prior, and a handful more exhibitors. Thankfully and unfortunately, my husband had been disabled from 3 bulging discs in his back and offered some time to help me out and prepare for the event as he was unable to work his job. Honestly, I couldn’t of done it without him and again, the team of expo bffs,, one of which had been there for 4 years straight. You all were my heroes. Super!

cheerleaders at EXPO 2013 pic Fun Hub Kohls Wild Kingdom at EXPO 2013 Liam and Half-Twisted Half Knot at Just Add Kids EXPO! 2013

That brings us to 2014. What’s in store? What you got in 2013 and SO MUCH MORE! Honestly, I am so vey excited about this year’s Just Add Kids EXPO! And you should be, too! To find out what’s going on, please check out our EXPO! page on our website and read the blog below. I’ll be coming back next week, post EXPO! and will report on 2014 heroes and so much more as I do a recap in this same space, as this piece of “journalism” (wink) will be needing an update on Thursday. Here, oh, goes!

C U @ EXPO! Where “FUN” is “KING”!










Leave a comment »