Head Start Stories and Experiences...
1. Submit an Application
2. Be contacted by a HCAP Head Start Family Advocate
Chronicles of Aunty Donna B.
by Theresa Ioane
This is a story of a mom whose dedication and commitment to making a better life for her children persevered over life, many heartaches, and challenges. My name is Theresa, a Family Advocate with Head Start Program. I first met Donna in 2006 when I was assigned to her son's Head Start classroom. What I noticed about Donna from our first encounter was that she always had a smile on her face and was always willing to assist the staff with any task.
Donna and her two children faced many challenges in a short period of time. In June 2003, a tragedy hit Donna's family. Both her dad and younger brother were killed crossing Farrington Hwy in Nanakuli. It was her dad's birthday and they were on their way to buy a birthday cake to celebrate. A second major tragedy hit the family in 2006, shortly after I met her. Donna and her family were evicted from their home because her landlord was cited by the city. The family had nowhere to go, and with a limited income, the family could only afford to camp out on the beach. It was summer time, so the kids loved it. But over time, it became difficult staying on the beach. Being homeless on the beach, one did not have control over who came by and at different times of the day and night. People would come by to drink at the beach, to fight and to use drugs. Then the police would come by to check to make sure that one had a permit for camping. Every day Donna and her family would pack up their belongings to avoid robbery before leaving in the morning. When rainy season hit, the tent was not much of a shelter and provided very little coverage.
In spite of uncertainties and instabilities in her personal and family life, Donna was consistent about volunteering, assisting the staff and making sure her children were attending school. Seeing her commitment, dedication and positive outlook, Donna was encouraged and supported by staff to become a fingerprinted parent in 2006 and work as a sub hire. Eventually, the teaching staff talked her into applying for Assistant Teacher Trainee position with Head Start Program. Although she had a driving permit, Donna didn't have a driver's license at the time and no one to take her to get a license. Since having a driver's license was one of the minimum requirements for working for Head Start, I volunteered to take her. This turned out to be the turning point in her life. She passed it on her first try and got her driver's license. This led to an interview with HCAP and eventually an employment as Head Start Assistant Teacher Trainee.
The family was still living on the beach. The teaching staff and I worked together to help get them off of the beach. Donna applied for a transitional shelter and I followed up with a referral letter. Within a month or so the family was accepted to the shelter and immediately moved off the beach. Although the family had up to 2 years at the shelter to transition, Donna and her family moved out of the shelter within a year into a permanent housing.
The family is doing well. Donna continues to be committed to improving her family's livelihood. The boys are attending school and Donna is working diligently to obtain her CDA (Child Development Accreditation) certificate to become an Assistant Teacher. She is an advocate for the program and is dedicated to the families we service. And one day she may just have a class of her own!
Head Start Assistant Teacher