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Check Out Marina Awerbuch’s Story

Today we’d like to introduce you to Marina Awerbuch.

Hi Marina, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
Last March 2020, I resigned from my full-time position as a program manager at a Children’s Advocacy Center to spend time with my 3-year-old son and 6-month-old daughter. I resigned the same week COVID began to shut down the state.

My original plan was to transition to a part-time role, I wanted to have the opportunity to have fun with my kids and “live the mom life” that I couldn’t while working full time.

Then COVID hit and everything totally shut down. Instead of going on playdates, indoor playgrounds and children’s museums, like many other moms, I started doing arts and crafts and activities at home. As the pandemic dragged on I felt the need to incorporate social activities and create a community for my kids.

My background is in program development and child and family therapy so I began to utilize my work experience in creating storytimes at the park. Originally, the attendees were my friends, but in summer 2020 as families were ready to expand their circles, more moms saw my playgroup in the park and asked to join. This was the origin of Playdates by Design. I started with outdoor storytimes, I tried to recreate what was closed in the safest way possible, outdoors and in small groups. We would read books, sing songs and play with a parachute.

I was just really doing these playgroups because I wanted something educational and fun for my own children. After starting the programming, word spread organically and I started partnering with organizations such as Modern Milk, Musicology, Motherhood Company and PJ Library, all looking to create partnerships in bringing literacy-based events and sensory play to their consumers.

I hope to partner with more agencies looking for children’s programming, and post-COVID I hope to partner with coffee shops to create mommy-and-me crafts and coffee events.

Playdates started from stories at the park to me realizing it’s something I really love and enjoy doing — creating fun, educational events for families and children.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
Playdates by Design has been bumpy road. I remember one of my first playdates that I shared with the public, and no one showed up. I was all ready with my eight months old daughter, a giant parachute waiting at the park. I felt embarrassed and defeated.

I never thought I was entrepreneurial in nature, I avoid many risks, so every time I create a new event or manage a new partnership, I enter with caution.

My greatest cheerleaders are fellow moms, who like me were looking to normalize life during a pandemic and create a community for their littles.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I have 12 years of experience working with children and parents in community-based settings. My background is in delivered continuing education seminars to professionals and families on evidence-based parent education, trauma-informed care and child development. My passion is to enhance awareness of infant-toddler development and child abuse prevention in the Arizona community. In my professional career, my work focuses on building program infrastructure and data management to best support growth of local and national non-profits focusing on the wellbeing of children.

I hold a Masters of Advanced Study in Infant Family Practice from Arizona State University and am endorsed through the Infant Mental Health Coalition of Arizona.

Do you any memories from childhood that you can share with us?
One of my favorite memories is getting picked up by my grandfather from preschool. My grandparents lived in another country, but when they would visit my grandfather would always make sure to pick me up every day of the week during his stay, and he always came with a donut.

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