We are thrilled that so many of our supporters and providers joined us at our two benefit events last week. Our back-to-back events offered a chance to hear from inspiring speakers, including several of our providers and acclaimed journalist and author Alison Stewart.
We celebrated the one-year anniversary of our Bridgeport launch at the historic Bijou Theater on Wednesday. In just the past twelve months, All Our Kin worked with providers in the Bridgeport area to establish 22 new family child care businesses and offered professional development to 125 licensed family child care providers in the city and surrounding towns. We had the pleasure of hearing from two of them on Wednesday night: Kumba Hinds and Gilda Mecca. Gilda, who has been providing child care for more than thirty years, described how All Our Kin had helped reenergize her after she faced a series of personal trials, including the death of both her husband and her mother. In her words, “I know we all go through difficult times in our lives. Thankfully All Our Kin was there to help me in a way no one else could have… I’m so thankful that All Our Kin [came] into my life…for me and most importantly for the children in my care.”
It was also a special treat to hear from guest speaker Alison Stewart, who spoke about her newly-released work, First Class: The Legacy of Dunbar, America’s First Black Public High School. Our audience was riveted by Alison’s telling of the school’s story and inspired by her reflections on the need for investments in education.
On Thursday, old and new friends met at Bentara for our annual New Haven benefit. With many of All Our Kin’s most dedicated supporters in the room, Jessica and Janna took the opportunity to describe how All Our Kin has developed since the organization’s founding. As Jessica stated, “[w]hen we started out, we knew the role of the family child care provider was profound. But we had no idea just how important these providers are.” Janna and Jessica spoke about how All Our Kin seeks to maximize provider impact through programs like the Garden Project and our Circle of Security pilot, which have the potential to strengthen children’s nutrition and mental health. Through our workforce development efforts, including one-on-one business coaching and a zero-interest loan program, All Our Kin is also helping providers and their families gain financial stability. As All Our Kin has grown, Jessica and Janna emphasized that we have stayed true to our original mission and core values.
Speeches from two of our terrific providers, Jabeen Hasan and Josie Queen, were a highlight of the evening. Josie, who has written eloquent posts on this blog in the past, described the support she received from All Our Kin to grow and strengthen her practice. Jabeen described how All Our Kin helped her become what her daughter termed a “super-mom” while advancing her own education.
Jabeen has graciously offered to share her speech with our readers. We hope you enjoy reading her story:
“Good evening everybody. I am Jabeen Hasan, and I am one of All Our Kin’s day care providers. I am part of the All Our Kin mentor program, and also part of the All Our Kin garden project. All Our Kin taught me so many new things about how to work with children, like teaching me how to teach them, and how to work with different age groups. Even giving me this opportunity to attend here and speak is personally very big. Maybe for you all it’s not a big thing, but for me it’s a very big deal and it’s something great. I want to thank All Our Kin, because if it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be standing in front of you today.
My experiences with children have always been good. When my first child came to my day care, she cried. This is normal, because it’s a transition. But when the child got out of my day care, she was also crying! Her parent told me that this was his first experience seeing his daughter come in crying and leave crying, because we gave her so much love. That was my first child I started the daycare with. I had so much attachment, so much bond with her. When she left for vacation, I just wanted to give up I was so depressed. Then Tyree taught me how to get out of this feeling, how to deal with this situation. She kept me moving on, and she still encourages me to move on. That child calls me mama, actually. Because of her, everybody calls me mama.
My own children encourage me and tell me all the time that I am a super-mom. And I tell them, “All the moms are super, there is no mom that is not super.” My daughter has responded to me: “You are super because you are not just our mom. You are Sara’s mom, Myra’s mom, Alex’s mom, and Adam’s mom.”
I am a part of the All Our Kin Garden Project. My experience with the garden project was beautiful. I enjoyed it so much with my children. Going outside every day with them, watering the plants, nurturing them. Playing with the water, having fun, playing with the worms. I was scared of the worms, at the beginning. Now I’m not scared anymore, or at least, I’m better than before. The children take the vegetables and eat them right from the garden. I wish that All Our Kin will help me out with my garden again next year, too.
Since coming to All Our Kin, I have started going to college to take my associate’s degree, and I am also going to take my Child Development Associate’s degree very soon. This all began after I met my mentor from All Our Kin, who was Tyree. I was just discussing something with her, very briefly, about how I wanted to go to college. She discussed so many different opportunities with me, she helped me fill out the applications, and she helped me fill out my financial aid. I did not know anything. I was nowhere, but now I am somewhere. This is all because of All Our Kin and especially because of Tyree.
I want to thank God for everything, because he’s the one who brought me here and brought me to this situation. And secondly I want to thank my parents, who brought me into this world. And lastly I want to thank All Our Kin for being with me for all the time I needed them. I know they’re going to be with me any time I need them.
Thank you to the audience for listening to me.”
Thank you, Jabeen, for sharing your story with us. We’re grateful that you’re a part of All Our Kin’s community!
For more pictures from our New Haven benefit, please visit our Facebook page.