December 20, 2019
Crystal J. has been taking her four-year-old son to Living Classrooms’ Harry and Jeannette Weinberg Early Childhood Center in East Baltimore since he was a newborn. Receiving both parenting and adult education services for herself and education and developmental support for her son, Crystal has become a vocal advocate for the benefits found at the Weinberg Center.
At 43 years old, Crystal was already a parent to two grown adults but found herself unemployed and under-prepared to raise another child on her own. She sought out a resource that would help both her and her son, Jon Dillon, be successful. What she found at the Weinberg Center was a well-trained and caring staff that not only delivered services at the center but also made home visits to work with Crystal on important parenting skills to support his progress both socially and physically.
Jon Dillon attended the Early Head Start Program two days per week for three years before graduating and moving onto the Head Start Program until he is school aged. At the same time, Crystal was attending regular GED classes where she learned important computer, reading, writing, and math skills, completed leadership classes, CPR certification, and job-readiness training. The program also afforded both mother and child the opportunity to spend the day together, eat lunch together at the Center, and go on field trips.
The Weinberg Center also offers adult ESL courses, community and cultural enrichment programs and events, has a community pantry and free clothing closet, and offers free dental care.
After almost four years, the growth in both Crystal and her son is evident and Crystal boasts that Jon Dillon, at one time having speech and concentration issues, has developed into a talkative and inquisitive young boy who now pulls chairs out and opens doors for the girls in the program. By her own accord, Crystal has made important strides as well, now ready to schedule her GED test, Crystal has participated in various activities offered at the Weinberg Center, joined the parent policy committee, and has become a community advocate, bringing several parents and other adults in for programming.
Crystal is proud of her accomplishments and will eagerly give credit to the programs at the Weinberg Center for giving her the tools she needs to realize her potential. “It changed me so much and filled me with so much joy, and people can see the change in me, the change in my son,” she said. “I could’ve had another baby by now because I didn’t know any better and my son would not have the strengths he has now.”
She is now looking forward to using her new skills to find employment in the child care industry. Jon Dillon will complete his final year in the Head Start Program before enrolling in the adjoining Commodore John Rodgers Elementary/Middle School next year. And it doesn’t stop there, Crystal hopes that Jon Dillon will be the first in her family to attend college and become a leader and advocate in his community.
“The center gave him the tools to help him become a positive member of the community, be respectful, get an education, and I am so grateful.”