Mignon Peters-Whitaker is a parent with Sheltering Arms / Atlanta Civic Site, an Ascend Network Partner. Sheltering Arms serves working families with high quality, affordable child care and education and comprehensive support services, and provides professional development for early childhood educators and community outreach. Sheltering arms is part of the Atlantic Civic Site, a neighborhood initiative that works with parents to ensure they have access to employment and asset-building opportunities and their children are on a path to educational success.
I have three children. Dominion (7); David (6) Zoe (4). Each of them have benefited in what I have learned since attending the 2Gen Conference to be the 2Gen approach that Sheltering Arms for Children and Families has implemented. They have done it partially through the Early Head Start/Head Start program that Sheltering Arms for Children and Families participates in and gets a substantial amount of funding to assist low income families access and acquire quality child care. They also, do this through the implementation of the newly restructured family support model. It allows the staff to support not only the needs of the child, but connect the parents to resources necessary to making their parenting experience seamless.
Although, I fit in the 2 Gen approach that my organization has begun to implement and various ways and in varying capacities. I am not the typical mother that you might anticipate being a part of the 2 Gen structure. I am not a victim of poverty or stricken by my socio-economic situation. However, I can say that Sheltering Arms Center for Children and Families met me right at the point of my need, and has helped me to not only watch and participate in my children’s development, but assist in cultivating my own.
I was college educated, receiving my B.S. in Marketing from Albany State University, and was working as a Program Manager for the Army Continuing Education System and my husband was working in Security, we were a very vibrant part of the working middle class. However, 7 years ago I made a conscious decision with my husband to be a stay-at-home mother and spend my energies focused on raising our son. My husband became the sole earner in our home.
Things were going well, so I had 2 more children, All of a sudden things changed. My husband lost his job. That put our family in a very hard spot financially. Our children were born 1 years apart, so if you could imagine caring for them was difficult, and stressful. I was overwhelmed and unfortunately my husband went months without sustainable work. We exhausted all our savings, and we were falling behind on all the bills, and no longer able to pay for childcare assistance. Head start and Sheltering Arms was a blessing to us, and gave us the opportunity to regroup as a family. It took the burden off us while we were regrouping financially. It gave me the time I needed to stay close to my children, and be involved in their learning process. I was able to enroll my two sons, while staying home with my daughter from age 0 to 2 years of age.
To my advantage, I was able to start school again, and receive my MBA in Project Management in those 2 years. My husband was able to gain more sustainable employment, and we have become more financially stable. Then, in addition to this, I have been able to serve in a voluntary Parent leadership role, as a Center Representative for Sheltering Arms at the East Point, GA location, Vice-Chair for Georgia Head Start Policy Council at Sheltering Arms, and Committee Chair Person for the Head Start Personnel and Planning Committee.
Sheltering Arms for Children and Families 2 Gen approach has helped me to become my best self, and has helped me regain the confidence to aim high again. Success has a snow ball effect. It starts small and grows larger with distance and time. Success lies in 2Gen.