How important is this kind of progress? One answer comes from Tasheena M. Davis, a parent who spoke at the ground breaking. Here’s a printed version of what she said:
My Expression of Gratitude
Words cannot express the amount of gratitude I felt for being given peace of mind. I was a struggling law student when my son, Noah, was born. I was not only struggling financially but internally as Noah was born with developmental delays that made walking and talking a challenge for him. I needed care for my son that provided peace of mind for me and that included a strong element of education for him. I was fortunate enough to find the Head Start program. I was skeptical at first as no one can teach my son as well as I can, but that skepticism quickly turned to gratitude. The Family Service Coordinator, Justine, helped to calm my nerves by allowing me to watch the classroom through a window. Noah’s teachers, Ms. Madeline and Ms. Yaitza, showed me each morning that they cared for him and his wellbeing. I was watching my son flourish more and more each day. Without even realizing it, I was finally able to focus on my reading assignments and on studying for exams instead of constantly worrying about my son. Before I knew it, I was being asked to run for the Parent Policy Council and becoming more involved with the Head Start program than I’d anticipated. It was this peace of mind provided by Head Start that allowed me to focus, graduate from law school, and study for and pass the Massachusetts bar exam.
However, my gratefulness extends beyond the benefits given to myself and my Noah. I grew up on Hickory Street where the new Educare Center is being built. I played at Harriet Tubman Park and caught the school bus at the Waterfront Club. In 2011, a tornado ravaged the projects I grew up in, making them unrecognizable to someone who’d lived in them for 20 years and devastating an already struggling area. I am grateful that my childhood neighborhood is being revitalized in such a positive, impactful way.
I would like to thank the Davis Foundation, Educare, Springfield College, Mayor Sarno and the City of Springfield, and all the others involved in educating a new generation of Springfield youth. I am thankful that a new group of parents will be given peace of mind to be able to work hard and accomplish their own personal goals. I would also like to thank Janis Santos and all the staff of Holyoke Chicopee Springfield Head Start who gave Noah a strong educational foundation and a lawyer for a mommy. Thank you.