Sapphire has been a single mom all of her adult life raising four daughters, fourteen grandkids and now five great grandchildren. She calls Louisville’s Park Hill neighborhood her home and is one of three Metro United Way “40210 Parent Outreach Specialists”, passionately trying to help connect families to resources they need to ensure they can live their lives to the fullest.
One of these resources is Metro United Way’s Ages & Stages Questionnaires (ASQ) program that parents can sign their children up and track their development to help them learn and grow as much as possible during their crucial early years. ASQ includes free books and activities for parent and child to do together with the goal of helping the parent become the child’s first teacher.
This is how Sapphire initially connects with a lot of moms in her neighborhood. But her role in the community isn’t easy; Park Hill has its share of violence, drug abuse and families living in poverty. A recent homicide victim in Louisville was found in the front yard of one of Sapphire’s Ages & Stages Neighborhood Network parent’s home.
“Kids and parents are traumatized,” said Sapphire. “I could have moved long ago but wanted to stay here – this is my community. And my moms trust me.”
The neighborhood network of ASQ parents and kids meet frequently, sometimes in Sapphire’s home or the neighborhood park, sometimes just walking down the street together or through formal field trips to places like the Kentucky Arts and Crafts Museum, Kentucky Science Center and the Speed Art Museum.
“These kids don’t go anywhere unless we take them,” said Sapphire. “Kids in my house yesterday didn’t want to leave because of the books I have in my home!”
Sapphire encourages parents – mostly single moms like her – to continue with the ASQ activities and parent-child Play & Learn gatherings. But she also advocates for them in other ways to get needed resources and services; Sapphire is currently working with more than 140 kids in Park Hill that 98% have single parents.
“What I love about Sapphire is that it’s never only about the baby – it’s about the parents, too” said Judy Schroeder, Senior Manager of Neighborhood Engagement for Metro United Way. “Because of what Sapphire and other Parent Outreach Specialists are doing, parents are coached as their child’s first teacher, and we’re strengthening families to help break the cycle of poverty and violence in our community.”
This is one example of how Metro United Way fights for the education, financial stability and health of every one in our community and the impact one person can make. Thanks, Sapphire, for helping us change the odds for kids for generations to come!
The ASQ program is easy and free to gain access to: simply enroll your child in the ASQ program here.