The wonderful thing about any person’s success is when she continues to create more positive outcomes for others. What we love about Sixpence success stories is how each of these participants has lived up to her fullest potential. We also love the way these same people encourage others to do the same.
While 2020 has been an undeniably difficult year, this time has been a testament to our nation’s resiliency. Nebraska is no exception. We may be divided on many issues, but we’re heartened that we can still come together and create a better state.
Lorena Mendez is a terrific example of someone who went from benefiting from Sixpence’s supports to giving support right back. Sixpence is a Nebraska Children and Families Foundation Early Childhood initiative. We here at Nebraska Children administer the program, which remains committed to supporting our state’s most vulnerable infants and toddlers from prenatal through the age of three.
But Sixpence doesn’t stop there. The program also offers support to parents, who are their child’s most influential, important teachers. All too often, we see parents like Lorena, who take their thriving even further, and continue to work with families they know they can help.
Lorena has lived in Crete, Nebraska for 15 years. She is now the mother of two beautiful girls and has a terrific husband. While a young mother, Lorena was involved in the Sixpence program, she received home visits. These rituals are one of the many benefits for families accepted into the Sixpence program.
As part of the program, families are paired with a trained early childhood home visitor, who works with their children to detect and assess any developmental hurdles. The home visitor bonds with parents and provides developmentally engaging activities so that their children can soar in kindergarten and beyond.
But home visitors wear many hats. In addition to ensuring that parents are engaging their children with developmentally sound activities, home visitors work with families to ensure that they are reaching for their dreams as well.
Lorena participated in home visits at an opportune time. Just as Lorena and her home visitor began to brainstorm her goals, she decided she was ready for the next step.
“I have two beautiful girls and a great husband. With the support of my husband and family, I made the decision to continue my education,” said Lorena.
Many factors, including her resolve and willingness to reach high for her dreams, helped solidify Lorena’s goals. She mentioned that her home visitor was a key player in helping her clarify what she wanted and lay the groundwork for her continuing education.
Lorena said that she made this decision to attend college largely due to the support she received. “My home visitor empowered me to have goals and to reach them,” she said.
From there, Lorena hit the ground running; she hasn’t stopped since. She is currently enrolled in the University of Nebraska Kearney, where she found a major that piqued her interest.
“I’m currently working on getting my bachelor’s degree from [UNK] in Sociology with a minor in Early Childhood Education,” she said. Lorena plans to graduate soon.
Meanwhile, Lorena found another dream that lay close to both her home and heart. One year ago, she decided that she wanted to return to her roots, then blossom into a new career as a parent educator at the Crete Sixpence program!
Lorena has set her sights on getting her degree and specifically, she’ll meet Sixpence’s requirements to become a highly qualified home visitor. She will hold a BA in either Early Childhood, Social Work, or Nursing, which makes her decision to finish her degree that much more important to thrive in her role as a home visitor!
Lorena said that she looks back in gratitude and forward to the future, complete with Sixpence’s support. She and Sixpence have history, all of it positive, as the program supported her when she first became pregnant in her teenage years.
“Sixpence has provided me with learning opportunities as an adult, as well as a teen mom,” she said.
From there, Lorena continued to participate in Sixpence, but she wasn’t the only one to enjoy the benefits of her hard work. Throughout her time spent working alongside her home visitor, Lorena said that she learned a great deal as a parent.
“I was enrolled in the Sixpence program with my first daughter,” she said. “Stephanni was my home visitor; she helped me learn about my child’s development and guided me to support my daughter as she was growing.”
But that’s not all. Through the supportive bonds formed with her home visitor and the clarification of her dreams, Lorena opened a new door to her success.
“Stephanni helped me find my first job with Crete Public Schools as a substitute paraeducator. I have been working with Crete Public Schools since then,” she said.
Today, Lorena finds herself as an inspiring home visitor who is continuing to create thriving new generations!
“Sixpence was a program full of opportunities for me and support. Now, as a [home visitor] with Sixpence, I want to give back the support, guidance, and empowerment to the families I am currently working with as was done with me.”