April 30, 2011 at 10:58am
I was born in 1960 to teen parents who had little family support. My mother and father married but only remained married until 1961. My father had entered the military and decided he didn’t want the responsibility of a wife and child at age 18. So in 1961, my mother became a single parent at age 19, she wasn’t formally educated beyond high school. She held a series of minimum wage jobs until 1965 when she went to work at a plastics factory in central Vermont where she met and eventually married my step-father in 1965. Due to numerous life changes and family moves, I missed kindergarten enrollment. Somewhat more stabilized by late spring 1966, my mother learned of a new program that we qualified for called Head Start and she enrolled me for the summer of 1966 in preparation for entering first grade that same year. I skipped kindergarten altogether because of the timing of elementary school enrollment.
I have been blessed in my life to work for the past 25 years with United Way, an organization that cares for the community and supports early learning efforts. United Way’s focus on early childhood education is near and dear to my heart and I believe the greatest opportunity for us to make a difference in individual lives and community conditions. I know that the Head Start program can be credited for helping me achieve a level of success by laying a strong foundation for early learning. Here in the St. Cloud area, United Way supports the Reach-Up Head Start program, an early learning opportunity for children from low income families.