Saturday, September 24, 2022

New Ways in Gateway


I received an invitation this week to attend the opening of United Way’s Columbia Family Center on October 4th. This one means a lot to me. You may remember that I wrote in June of 2021 about being able to attend a groundbreaking event for this center via Zoom.

I recently had the opportunity to participate in an online celebration/presentation about the groundbreaking for a new United Way Family Center, which will focus on care for infants and toddlers.* At the time I found myself mightily impressed by all the various entities that were needed to come together and commit to making this new center happen. I’m going to be writing more about that particular event soon. It made a big impression on me. 

Like the Bauder Education Center in Long Reach, the United Way Family Center (to be located in Gateway) will provide more than childcare. In fact, each of the two centers will support families in additional ways, connecting them with needed help such as opportunities for further education, parenting classes, and/or help with housing, food, or energy assistance. Providing such supports and resources in one place is a proven method of helping people to easily connect with the things they need most to provide a better life for themselves and their children.

The new Family Center is located in Gateway. I’m tickled about that because I’ve always felt that Gateway has so much potential to be more than what it is now. (And I owe all that to the esteemed Col Gateway.)

This article from United Way of Central Maryland explains the importance of the Columbia center. 

Affordable, Accessible Childcare for Columbia 

My favorite paragraph:

The new United Way Neighborhood Zone in Columbia's Family Center will provide parents in the area with affordable, high-quality childcare at a cost below market rate. And all staff working 20 hours or more will receive full benefits and be paid above-average wages. 

Parents desperately need child care they can afford. But it must be high-quality care to nourish every fiber of their child’s growing mind and body. Substandard care can result in cumulative damage or delays. This is precisely why you will hear pushback to the widely-used educational buzzword “achievement gap.” It’s not an achievement gap. It’s an opportunity gap.

And, while we’re at it, high quality early childhood care and education require highly trained, well-educated ECE professionals and they deserve to be paid what they are worth. 

End of sermon.

One more thing. As I was going through my notes this morning I discovered a link to an article back in March about Elkridge resident Laura Johnson, announcing her appointment as the senior vice president and chief innovation and data research officer at United Way of Central Maryland earlier this year.

Baltimore native returns home to help steer United Way of Central Maryland , Billy Jean Louis, Baltimore Sun

I got to know Ms. Johnson when I was serving on a committee that was tasked with doing a lot of work in a very short amount of time. The focus of the work was education and the committee members all had quite a bit to say. I began to lose hope that we would complete our assigned tasks in the time allotted. 

I will forever be grateful to a few committee members who drew everything together and got us headed in the right direction. One of them was Laura Johnson. It can’t have been easy, but she made it look easy. I came away from the experience with two thoughts:

1. I was not made for committees.

2. Laura Johnson is amazingly gifted 

To be clear, I have no idea whether Ms. Johnson has any connection to the Gateway Neighborhood Zone/Family Center. But I couldn’t pass up the chance to give a shout-out out to an immensely capable Howard County resident and to United Way of Central Maryland for having the good sense to hire her. If she turns up at the opening event on October 4th I will tell her that myself.

I came across this image this morning and I’m going to leave you with this thought:

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