Twelve years ago I arrived in Rhode Island and began a job in the world of early childhood. I had not worked with kids younger than 5 years old, so I spent a fair amount of time listening to those who were the experts at the agency and a few iconic figures. One of those people was Fred Rogers.
Stand for what you believe in
At a time when segregation was very much in play in our country with white only swimming pools, Fred Rogers cast Francois Clemmons as a police officer and shared a moment in a kiddie pool. This simple action spoke volumes. As someone who believes deeply in anti-racist efforts, Fred Rogers showed all of us what it means to live with integrity and sought to simply set an example for young children (and all the grown-ups who were watching!) This is what I strive to do every day. Every day is an opportunity for my external actions to match my internal values. Every day is a day to bring your best self forward and support others in doing this as well.
Look for and be one of the helpers
As Fred Rogers put it, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers — so many caring people in this world.” When something terrible happens in your life, do the same. So many people around you are willing to help if they know that you need help. And better yet, now that you’re grown up, you can be one of the helpers for others in times of need.
Of the many things Fred Rogers did, I always had the utmost respect for him with regards to how he saw the world and how he shared it with children. He did not hesitate to engage in “tough” topics like racism, violence, and divorce. He showed us all how important it was to listen, to be compassionate and to help. Children experience incredible challenges and they are struggling to make sense of it all. As grown-ups, we must help them make sense of what they are experiencing, and in this case, point out the helpers.
As many of you know, I am leaving Children’s Friend to join the team at DCYF. And while I will be at a different building, my passion for supporting vulnerable children and families….and the people doing the work will continue to be at the heart of everything I do. I am grateful for the opportunity to join the ranks of helpers at DCYF.
In my twelve years, I had the privilege of learning from some of the most extraordinarily talented people. My work has been all about listening and finding ways to create spaces for people to be amazing in their support of children, families and one another. ‘
It has been a tremendous journey and I am honored to have had the opportunity to serve all of you.