Ballard Community Services, Educating My Child and Leveling the Field.

Lucy is starting Kindergarten next week, and will be leaving the comforts of The Ballard Community Services Education Program. My first experience with Ballard was way back in 2001 when I was volunteering for The Lawrence St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Ballard was the recipient of the award that year. I have always liked this place, and since Lucy has been enrolled her, I have grown to love it.

We came here because I like the idea of a nonprofit school, the diversity of the students, and my really good friend Megan Stuke is the Education Director. Yes THAT Megan Stuke, Ms. Flying Fork herself. This place is so special to so many parents and grandparents who trust their children to Megan and her teachers. Ballard is not a daycare, it is education center. (They get all the credit for getting my daughter ready to start Kindergarten). Ballard is also a resource for people in need. We have a food and diaper pantry, we have kids cloths that have been donated that we are able to give to parents that are going through a tough time, and so so much more.

At this point you may have noticed that I was using the phrase “we” and “this place”. I am because I am writing this at the Ballard Center. For those who know me personally, I have worked in the nonprofit world and so since I find myself without stable employment, I have been volunteering here, seeing and hearing all that the wonderful staff do every day. I am answering the phones because the phone system is old and fails to deliver voice mail messages to the correct staff person. I am trying to find some grant money for them to replace this system, so that when I do find employment they can get messages, wish me luck on that. Both the phone thing and the job situation.

There is so much inequality out there, and I am hearing it every day. While answering the phone one afternoon, I had a gentleman on the line that needed help for his sister who was living in her car with her children. We got him connected with someone that could help. I spoke to a family that is very close to getting evicted because the rent money went to medical bills. We did what we could to help. I have witnessed great grandparents who take on the responsibility of small children because the kid’s parents are unable to care for their own. I have seen so many people that only need a little help to get to next month, and that is all. It is hard sometimes to really know what it is like to not have money to buy a birthday present so your kid can go to a party, or have money to get the brakes fixed on your car so you can go to that job interview. We just level the playing field here.

There are many people who help us do just that. Like the man who brought in two full back pack full of supplies so that two Kindergarteners can have what they need to start their formal education. (I already wrote about The Lawrence Referral Network that donated a $1000 to the school supply drive). I saw the family outreach coordinator help a young mother in a desperate situation find some answers, and a grateful man who needed a few groceries to make it until payday.

I will miss bringing Lucy here every day, the kids cooking and baking classes. I will miss the caring teachers and staff that love my kid almost as much as I do. Bye bye Ballard, we will miss you.

Ballard Community Center is located in North Lawrence.

Ballard Community Center is located in North Lawrence. by Brenda Brown

Tagged: Kindergarten, Megan Stuke, Ballard Center

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