Today, I want to share the good news which come from your support. Throughout Head Start's history the question has been raised, "Does Head Start work?" So much that several years back the National Head Start Association started a Head Start Works campaign. You may have seen the logo or a bumper stick to that affect or you may have even placed one on your own car. These are lofty debate that sometimes yield confusing results. But as it is said, "seeing is believing". And, I have seen Head Start "work" many times. One such example struck me recently that I would like to share it with you as confidence that Head Start does works because of you. Just like you helped transform the lives of the McMillan's (pictured below), I hope you will consider making a gift by December 31st, so Head Start continues to work to empower one more family by the start of the new year.
In our Essic Robinson center among many families we had a young family enrolled in our Early Head Start program as they welcomed their first baby. This family lives in Roxana and at the time we met them, had fallen on some very unfortunate circumstances during what is likely the worst time possible, the arrival of a new baby. The family found themselves in poverty and open to a new program like Early Head Start. Soon after enrolling the mother became very active in program leadership. Then she took a great leap and accepted a nomination to serve on the Board of Directors of the association. At the first meeting new officers were being elected. With some background in finance she took a chance and was elected Treasurer of the Association. With only a few months in her role as Treasurer, she then took another deep leap and became involved in state wide leadership as a Parent Ambassador with Illinois Head Start Association. Our parent would be the first parent in over a 40 year history to serve on the executive committee of the association. While all of this was happening for the mother, the father was working his way back into secure employment and has since become employed full time in a very secure position.
As I have spoken with this young mom, she continues to credit our program with helping her to re-discover who she was. What I did not share is that this young mom, once a pre-med student in Florida had suffered brain tumors, which led to a great deal of intellectual challenge and long term recovery. She had lost her own sense of personal efficacy and found herself in dire financial straits with a new family. She and her husband could easily have given up, but they did not. They are thriving today due to a great deal of personal fortitude and hard work matched with a program supporting and encouraging them along the way.
The most recent twist is bitter sweet. Lindy spoke with me somewhat proud and somewhat distraught. She shared that she recently completed an application for her child to transition from Early Head Start to Head Start. What she found is that she is no longer eligible for the program due to their success and income! I simply said to her "this is not bad news, you have succeeded. You are proof that Head Start Works!" With some sadness and much pride she climbed into her 2018 Buick and drove off from Illinois Head Start Association Board meeting. It is not often that we are able to associate the words "2018 Buick" and board meeting" with our families but it offers proof, at least in this case, that Head Start indeed works.
Head Start works because of you and your generous support. We hope you will consider helping reverse the effects of poverty for one more family by the end of the year. Your generosity helps build healthy communities where everyone can thrive.
Today, you can make a huge impact that will last a lifetime by making an unrestricted gift in any amount that is meaningful to you towards our Friends Annual Fund. The Fund strengthens and sustains the educational experience of each Riverbend Head Start student and their parents or caregivers, every day.
We look forward to sharing more successes with you in our quarterly newsletter. In the meantime, if you would like to schedule a visit to see, firsthand, the impact of your tax-deductible gift makes, please contact Jahara Davis, PR & Fund Development Director at 618.463.8913.
Our sincere thanks for your support today, tomorrow, and throughout the years that have continued to support the organization's growing program and administrative needs.
Eugene A. Howell, President & CEO
P.S. To double the impact of your gift, ask your employer's HR department if they offer matching gifts and the requirements.