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Mom Congress empowered to keep working

Liza Weidle

While waiting to see “Waiting for Superman,” I realized supermoms are here saving the day, making things happen. Gwen Samuel, CT Mom Congress delegate starts almost every conversation with a story of her two children, and continues to be on the run with advocacy efforts for her state. This week her focus is on getting people out to the polls to vote.

O. Pearl Andrews, TN Mom Congress delegate is helping teach parenting classes and advocating for children’s education at events including a recent JCHO fundraiser.

Melissa Bilash, PA Mom Congress delegate has busy days helping parents decode the mysteries of getting services for children. A testimonial from acfeinc.com says it best, “Without Melissa Bilash's dedication and support I do not know where my child would be. Melissa's knowledge and confidence was the answer to our long battle with the school district. Not only did her assistance allow us to get the funding we needed for appropriate programming, it also enabled our son to meet his full potential. She worked quickly and efficiently, keeping us informed every step of the way while working with us to keep our bill down. - Single mom of school aged child in Delaware County

I feel like I am standing still until I tally up the results of the last few weeks. Three kids, all doing well in school and have high hopes for the future. Two in-laws stuck in a revolving door at the hospital with heart surgeries, strokes, and related illness. One amazing husband supporting my work and volunteer efforts who never asks, “You are doing what?” We are the sandwich generation caring for our parents, children, and a foster child. Family comes first, then the work of advocating for all children.

My latest efforts included a Youth Suicide Awareness and Prevention walk. More than 300 community members and students participated in the event. The event brought in over $10,000 that will go towards bringing a Yellow Ribbon trainer to our area. A student club, Save a Life (S.A.L.) formed with 100 students participating in the first meeting, the leader of the group has been asked to help with a grant for a NCDHHS effort.

Moms in the Mom Congress aren’t waiting, they are doing. Most recently, our big adventures took many delegates on a mission to help with early literacy. It was incredible to be in the New York Public Library and able to quiet the noise of all the distractions in life to focus on literacy. Greg Schumann, VP Group Publisher - The Parenting Group opened the session with an update on Mom Congress efforts and the need for early literacy support. Hear his words on the video available at this link www.youtube.com/watch?v=n2BYRQUbGGk

 Lily Eskelsen, VP of NEA, had a connection with the group when she read Robert Munsch’s “Love you forever.” The wheels in my mind spun as Lily sang,

“I'll love you forever,
I'll like you for always,
As long as I'm living
my baby you'll be.”

I was transported back to the day when a foster child moved in to our home. She was 10 years old and we were her 4th stop in the foster home roulette some children labeled “unadoptable” are forced to play. When I read “Love you Forever” to her, she freaked out. Forever was a foreign concept. That book’s magical powers worked on her as I read it again and again. We learned that she had never owned a book.  She seemed to inhale books the way a hungry child would food. A year later, she became our adopted daughter, quickly moved up from the first grade reading level to her age appropriate one and is now a sophomore in high school.

Drawing on the “Read. Connect. Grow!” event in NYC, I am inspired to help other foster children own that first book or maybe even a bag of books that are on their reading level. Stay tuned as this story develops.

What are you doing to help nurture a love a reading in all children?

 Liza Weidle is the NC Mom Congress delegate and author of "Truth about Parenting: Navigating the Elementary Years."

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