The Richmond Register

Viewpoints

June 29, 2014

Starting over at Head Start

RICHMOND — All I ever wanted to be was a journalist. Having worked on my high school and college newspapers, I knew it was the career for me.

I love talking to people, listening to their stories, being creative every day and experiencing new things. But as you know, news happens outside the hours of 9 to 5, and my job here at the Register rarely stayed within that time frame.

I’m the mother of a 3-year-old named Ryker, who needs me more and more each day as he tackles life’s little obstacles, obstacles that are more perplexing from a toddler’s world view. His favorite question is “Why?” And I always try to give him my best answer(s).

But, being a reporter, photographer and page designer, I was saying goodnight to Ryker over the phone more often than I should have been. As much as I cherish this special privilege to tell the stories of my community, I realized that I was missing out on my son. Being his mom is my most important job.

So, I made the tough decision to find a job that would ensure I was home every night and every weekend. I knew if I were to leave the Register, however, my new work would have to be equally meaningful.

Starting Monday, I will be the program assistant for Head Start, one of the many programs administered through the Kentucky River Foothills Development Council, headquartered right here in Richmond. 

Established in 1962, KRFDC is a community action agency dedicated to “helping people and changing lives” by offering a comprehensive range of services for families and individuals. Its service area includes: Madison, Clark, Estill and Powell counties. Additionally, Head Start also serves Garrard, Jackson, Laurel and Rockcastle counties.

Head Start is an educational program for economically disadvantaged children from birth to 5 years old. In Madison County, there are centers in both Berea and Richmond, but there also are Head Start teachers in some county schools.

Over the past 10 years, more than 10,000 children were enrolled in an Early Head Start or Head Start program throughout the service region.

Other KRFDC programs and services include: the Liberty Place Recovery Center for Women, Low Income Home Energy Assistance (LIHEAP), Responsible Fatherhood program, healthy marriage and relationship workshops, crisis and outreach services, tax preparation, a mobile health clinic, housing support, senior citizen centers, youth services and affordable transportation through a bus system.

I would venture to say there is not one person in my community who hasn’t been touched by Foothills in some way, including me.

I was a Head Start student and so was my little brother Bill. Years ago, my father worked for minimum wage and my mother, Elena, stayed at home to care for her three children. My parents couldn’t afford to send us to daycare or pay for a preschool program. 

As a Filipino immigrant who truly understood the meaning of poverty, my mother was fiercely independent and jumped at opportunity when she saw it. While I was a Head Start student, she began to volunteer, then she worked in the kitchen, and eventually she earned certification to become an assistant teacher.

My earliest memories are at Head Start. I remember conquering the big slide and falling off the small one. I remember my first boyfriend, Stevie (we still joke about that), and how he defended me when another little boy knocked over my building blocks. I remember seeing my first tadpole and blue lizard. I remember tasting raw bell peppers for the first time and hating them (I still do).

In 2009, Mom passed away from Lou Gehrig’s Disease on her 55th birthday. I know my mom; she would’ve been proud of me no matter what. She also would’ve gotten a kick out of seeing my bylines and photo credits published in the newspaper. But, she would’ve been especially proud to know that I am going to work for a program that gave her, and me, so much.

I want to say “thank you” to all the educators, students, law enforcement and community members who have filled my days with truly unique experiences. My favorite part of this job was being able to highlight some of the amazing things children are doing in schools nowadays. I believe now, more than ever, that teachers have the most important job in the world.

I will miss my Register family, but you’re not far away. I’ll still come by the newsroom every time Liz Denny makes her cheese dip and those little “bites of awesome” on Ritz crackers.

I will miss being the first recipient of Mayme Foland’s warm hugs when she walks into the building. And no Mayme, it’s impossible for me to “stay out of trouble,” no matter how many times you remind me. 

I will miss making faces at Carrie Curry through that little pane of glass that looks into her office. You’re so incredibly talented, my friend. 

Bob Flynn, take care of that “son” of yours. I’ll be looking forward to your retirement in Berea.

Nathan Hutchinson, please do something about Bob (I suggest duct tape).

Makayla, Mikhayla, Machaela Ballard … however you spell that name of yours. Keep up the good work. And don’t worry, you’ve got enough optimism for the both of us.

Topher, Wolverine had bone claws before he was infused with adamantium. Remember that. Oh, and I still can’t get over your weird banana allergy.

And Bill Robinson, how am I going to learn any more about Germany without your daily history lessons? I suppose you can still text them to me. May you never find that bus you’re always talking about.

Finally, the Keurig machine, and your multiple flavors of coffee. You were always there for me when I needed you.  

I still plan to write freelance, so this isn’t the last you’ll hear from me.

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Viewpoints
  • 06.29 CrystalFarewell.jpg Starting over at Head Start

    All I ever wanted to be was a journalist. Having worked on my high school and college newspapers, I knew it was the career for me.
    I love talking to people, listening to their stories, being creative every day and experiencing new things. But as you know, news happens outside the hours of 9 to 5, and my job here at the Register rarely stayed within that time frame.

    June 29, 2014 2 Photos

  • Ike Adams They don’t make strawberries as they did back in the old days

    I’m not inclined to go through my archives at the moment, but it almost feels like the column I’m about to write has almost become an annual thing over the years.
    At least I know for sure that that this is not the first time that memories of picking strawberries there on Blair Branch on hot days in June has triggered this keyboard about this time of year.
    I grew up on a little subsistence, hillside farm deep in the mountains of eastern Kentucky, among the coalfields near the Virginia line.

    June 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ike Adams Baby boomers have let technology rob their grandchildren of the joys of youth

    When I was growing up, it was not uncommon to see fathers and sons along creek banks fishing together or in the woods hunting squirrels or pitching horse shoes or even shooting marbles late in the afternoon in the cool hours before dark.
    Dads were teaching kids to play the games they grew up with. Little girls, learned from mothers,how to skip rope, play with jacks or play hopscotch.

    June 12, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ronnie-Ellis.jpg No Lincoln or Douglas in this debate

    Remember the famous slap-down in the 1988 vice presidential debate when Republican Dan Quayle compared his youth and limited government experience to those of John Kennedy’s when Kennedy ran for president?
    His Democratic opponent, Texas Sen. Lloyd Bentsen, acidly replied: “I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy.”

    June 7, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ronnie-Ellis.jpg Senate campaign already in full bloom

    Any hope for a respite in the U.S. Senate campaign following Tuesday’s primary disappeared immediately.
    Mitch McConnell and Alison Lundergan Grimes came out swinging in victory speeches which sounded like campaign kickoffs.
    McConnell commended Matt Bevin on “a tough (primary) race” and appealed to Bevin supporters to unite behind his re-election bid. That will be hard for Bevin and those who backed him.

    May 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jim Waters.JPG ‘Taxpayer-eaters’ meet ‘self-serving politician-eaters’

    What some candidates could gain in this year’s election – beyond just winning office – is a stark reminder of how wrong political leaders were when declaring last year they had adequately addressed Kentucky’s public-pension crisis.
    Instead, legislators with serious courage deficiencies failed to agree on reforms beyond what they believe are “politically feasible.”

    May 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ike Adams Step Out, Step up for Diabetes Association

    Six weeks ago when I wrote here announcing the 2014 Edition of Team TKO’s American Diabetes Association, Step Out Walk Team, several dozen of you readers sent generous donations to sponsor grandson Tyler Kane Ochs (TKO) and me in the walk that takes place, rain or shine, in the mud or not, at Keeneland on the morning of May 31.
    Another several dozen of you either called, emailed or dropped a card in regular mail and asked that I remind you again “after the holidays” (Easter and Mother’s Day).

    May 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ronnie-Ellis.jpg Hitting the campaign trail

    The most watched race in the country ? the battle for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Republican Mitch McConnell ? has so far produced a bevy of charges and not much substance.
    We haven’t seen that much of McConnell or his likely Democratic opponent Alison Lundergan Grimes out on the campaign trail.
    McConnell’s primary opponent Matt Bevin has been much more active and visible, but his performance hasn’t enhanced his chances.

    May 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • The case of the scary black cat

    If Margie didn’t believe that black cats were the harbinger of bad luck, she certainly believed it when a black cat brushed against her leg while she was leaning over a large trash can burning garbage one late afternoon.
    Startled by the sudden appearance of the feline, Margie opened her mouth wide and let out a blood-curdling scream that could have awakened Count Dracula himself.

    May 10, 2014

  • Ike Adams Basking in the spring sunshine

    If you had asked me, as recently as two weeks ago, to make a list of things I expected to see on the first Monday in May of 2014, two of the things that I actually did see would not have been on the list, even if you’d required that it contain at least 500 items.
    I’d have been a bit skeptical about Ralph’s purple asparagus and his gorgeous snowball bush, both of which came through most admirably. And I would have had my doubts about the poppies that have been in our back yard for several generations and the bearded German Iris that Jeanette Todd gave us more than two decades ago. It faithfully stuns us there at the corner of the front porch every spring, but there they were, basking in absolute glory as the sun set Monday afternoon.

    May 8, 2014 1 Photo

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