Check out last night’s coverage on Fox 59’s web page at http://www.fox59.com/news/wxin-outreach-program-helps-poverty-093010,0,1446606.story
When Inside SCCAP visited the new Early Head Start center a few weeks ago, it’s future classrooms didn’t look much like classrooms. They were empty and had bare walls.
You can see now that they are almost ready for the participants in Monroe County’s first Early Head Start program. In fact, there is one classroom – one that’s for 3 to 5 year olds that has already been filled with kids for almost a month. The other classrooms, for infant to 3 year olds, will be occupied soon.
For our Tuesday News this week, we have a feature story about SCCAP teacher Tillie Allgood, who has been happily stuck in Head Start for much of her life.
This story was written by our former intern Lauren Sedam, who is now in charge of copyediting at the Indiana Daily Student:
Tillie Allgood is stuck, and she’ll tell you so herself.
But it’s not a bad thing.
Tillie is a teacher for Head Start at the South Central Community Action Program in Bloomington, where she provides a classroom experience for 3- to 5-year-old children of low-income families. She’s been involved in the program since she herself was in school, serving in almost every role there is.
As a teenager, Tillie put in countless hours of volunteer work while her own brother was involved in the program. When it came time for her own children, Patricia and Patrick, now 19 and 20, to become enrolled in school, she said the choice to start them at Head Start was only logical.
Tillie then served on the Council of Involved Families and worked as a sub for three years. She has been able to get her certification to drive a bus, her Associates degree, her Child Development Associate certification, and she is working on her Bachelor’s degree, all things she said she probably wouldn’t have been able to do without the help of Head Start.
After her own children graduated from the program, Tillie took a full-time position. She hasn’t left for 14 years.
In that time, Tillie has seen a lot of kids pass through. She’s even had a future State Spelling Bee champion start out in her class.
She said some families need a little more guidance than others, and when that’s the case, Head Start works to connect the family with resources that will help support them through the years.
Other times, she said, parents just aren’t sure how to get what their kids need and need a little guidance. Tillie recalled one family of young parents who had six kids at the time. She said they knew they needed to get their children in school, but they weren’t sure exactly what to do.
They found Head Start, and Tillie had every one of their kids in class. She said as each kid passed through, they were more and more prepared, picking up on things from those that came before.
“The growth of that family was astounding,” Tillie said. “The support that we were able to deliver within that poverty…was just an amazing thing.”
She said the kids are now entering high school and are involved in a lot of main stream activities like sports.
Yet, she said the relationships with the family don’t end when kids graduate from the program and move on.
“Even after each child left, we were able to provide support just by being a safe place to ask questions,” she said.
But the kids in Tillie’s class aren’t the only successful aspect of Head Start in Tillie’s life. She’s seen this deep connection to the program in her own kids, who she said support the program “210 percent.”
They were both involved in Head Start as kids and have spent time volunteering and supporting their mom as they’ve gotten older.
She said her son, Patrick, spent a lot of time helping out with the playground. “One minute he’d be shoveling mulch, and the next he’d be in here lying on the floor and playing with the kids,” she said. “I think that shows the kind of belief they have in this program.”
This is a good example of how Tillie says the Head Start program forms a tight and lasting bond—a family. As her son was preparing to move out of the house after graduation, she said he told her not to be sad because she “still had her Head Start kids, and they need you”
This attachment is exactly what Tillie says makes the Head Start family unique: Once you’re in, and once you believe in the program, you’re stuck.
“Those friendships and those relationships are long-lasting,” she said.
She encourages those who don’t know about the program to come in and experience the classroom for themselves.
“There’s something here for everyone,” Tillie said. “Regardless of the need or level, there’s something here for everyone.”
Tillie Allgood is stuck, and she’d tell you so herself.
But it’s a good thing.
People who care about poverty have probably already read this news about the new national poverty numbers over the past couple of days, but I felt it was important to post it here anyway.
On the local level at SCCAP, there’s been no doubt that we’ve been seeing more and different people in poverty than we’ve seen in the past. We’re in the same boat as the rest of the country, as the new national census numbers on poverty demonstrate.
Even though you probably already knew this was true, it still hurts to read it again –
Recession Raises Poverty Rate to a 15-Year High
By ERIK ECKHOLM
Published: September 16, 2010, The New York Times
The percentage of Americans struggling below the poverty line in 2009 was the highest it has been in 15 years, the Census Bureau reported Thursday, and interviews with poverty experts and aid groups said the increase appeared to be continuing this year.
With the country in its worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, four million additional Americans found themselves in poverty in 2009, with the total reaching 44 million, or one in seven residents. Millions more were surviving only because of expanded unemployment insurance and other assistance.
To read the rest of this story at nytimes.com, click here.
A walk will be held in Bloomington on Oct. 16 to raise awareness about breast cancer, which is the second-largest cause of death among American women.
For more information about the walk, click here: Breast Cancer Awareness Walk
This week’s Friday photos show one of the new signs at the main SCCAP office in Bloomington, as well as one of our weatherization trucks that has just received the agency logo.
SCCAP is in the process of updating all of its signs and marketing materials to display the new agency logo that was adopted this summer and to make the agency name more prominent. We will soon have a new website, brochures, letterhead and various promotional items displaying the new logo and strengthening our brand with a consistent visual appearance and message.
SCCAP GRANT PROVIDES MILK FOR HOOSIER HILLS FOOD BANK
A grant from the South Central Community Action Program is enabling the Hoosier Hills Food Bank to provide over 1,000 people each week with milk. SCCAP has made $10,000 in funds available through the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (stimulus) for the food bank to purchase milk. HHFB began receiving weekly deliveries of 1,080 half-gallon units of 2% milk last week and will continue distributions to its agencies through mid-October.
“It’s a great gift to be able to provide a nutritious, staple product like milk to our agencies,” said HHFB Executive Director Julio Alonso. “We don’t receive large quantity milk donations very often and when we do the milk is usually very close to expiration. With demand for emergency food assistance at a very high level we need all the help we can get and we appreciate being able to distribute such a quality product to families in need.”
“This is a win-win situation to be able to provide fresh milk to low-income families and to purchase the milk to be donated from an Indiana dairy, Prairie Farms in Loogootee,” SCCAP Executive Director Todd Lare said. “We are very appreciative of being able to do this because of the additional Community Services Block Grant funds we received this year as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. “
Hoosier Hills Food Bank collects and distributes over 3.1 million pounds of food annually to nearly 100 non-profit agencies serving 7,500 people each week in Brown, Lawrence, Orange, Owen, Martin and Monroe counties. http://www.hhfoodbank.org
The South Central Community Action Program provides a wide range of services for low-income residents of Monroe, Morgan, Owen and Brown counties, empowering people to reach their potential. http://www.insccap.org