MountainStar's 20th Anniversary

This year, MountainStar is celebrating 20 years of service to babies and toddlers in our community! We are so grateful and offer our sincere thanks to all of our supporters for 20 years of love, kindness, and care!

Launching services in 2001, MountainStar now has programs in Bend, Redmond, Madras, Prineville, and La Pine. MountainStar would like to expresses our gratitude to the many staff, board members, volunteers, donors, and community partners that have provided critical support to serve the vulnerable babies and toddlers across our community.  

In honor of our 20 years of dedication, we are asking you to ensure our services remain free and grow with the needs of our community. Make a gift today!

“I sincerely appreciate the generosity of our community and the commitment to child abuse prevention. Supporting vulnerable families and working with the dedicated early learning professionals across our community has been my personal honor as executive director of MountainStar for the last nineteen years. I am excited to celebrate what we have accomplished together, but am even more excited about where we go from here, because as we all know, when it comes to early childhood – every day counts, and everyone matters,” 
- Tim Rusk, Executive Director.

New Executive Director Announcement

The founding director of MountainStar Family Relief Nursery, Tim Rusk, will be stepping down in August - wrapping up 19 years of service to the community in that role. MountainStar is excited to announce that Kara Tachikawa will be the new Executive Director, starting in August 2021. 

Kara is a strong and well-respected community leader who has been advocating for young children in Central Oregon for 7 years. In addition to being a Central Oregon native, she brings an abundance of passion, knowledge, and experience to this leadership role and has the full support and confidence of the board, staff, families, and program partners. Jessica Sayers, the Board President, notes that “Kara has been a committed advocate for the families and children that we serve, not only in her current role at MountainStar, but in her previous roles in the community. The Board is confident that Kara will be a be a successful Executive Director for the organization and we look forward to her leadership and guidance to ensure that MountainStar continues to provide the services and supports that are available to our community, to prevent child abuse and neglect.”

Kara believes all babies, toddlers, and preschoolers deserve a strong start and that we have a collective obligation to step forward and help when families face big challenges, such as unstable housing, poverty, intimate partner violence, substance abuse issues, or involvement with the criminal justice and child welfare systems. She is thrilled to lead MountainStar’s highly qualified and caring staff in providing trauma-informed, therapeutic services that show documented success at keeping children safe and increasing family resilience. Kara recently commented, “Our work is particularly important this year when there are so many added stressors caused by the pandemic and due to the harsh rhetoric directed at some individuals in our community.”

Kara is currently the Program Director at MountainStar and led the effort to open a new Relief Nursery site in Redmond in September 2020. She was also integral in adding Preschool Promise classrooms last fall at MountainStar sites in Bend, Madras, and Prineville. Managing childcare operations with constantly shifting health and safety guidelines has been demanding. Kara and MountainStar continue to be committed to the safety of our staff, children, and families.

Kara notes, “A recent podcast featuring Brene Brown, Oprah Winfrey, and Dr. Bruce Perry encourages us to stop asking ‘What is wrong with that person?’ Instead, we should be asking ‘I wonder what happened in their life?’ This is particularly true for our work at MountainStar. Every day, we see children with big behaviors that would be disruptive enough to get them expelled from other programs.  Instead, our staff wants to know what happened to them and explore how we can better meet the need that is communicated by their behavior. I am so excited to be leading this work in Central Oregon that builds resilience for young children and their parents in the face of overwhelming adversity.”

  • I love what MountainStar does for our community of Madras.
    - Michele & Jim Gemelas

  • In my 10 years of volunteering in the classrooms, I truly saw the difference MountainStar made to the children and their families. Any donation made is money well spent. It will make a difference.
    - Robin Schueler (Former MountainStar Volunteer)

  • As former chair of the Glen Gives, I have had the opportunity to witness what MountainStar has done in this community: Great Work!!
    - Elaine Larsen