“I’m the type of person that won’t give up” comments Leigh, a dedicated soul filled with love and support for her family and passionate about her work with children. Leigh is always determined to overcome and succeed, even when faced with some of life’s most difficult challenges.
This mother of six children, who range in age from 13, 11, 8, twin 7 year olds and a six year old, is not just a wife and mom, but a part-time SENCA Head Start team member working to achieve her Child Development Associate credential, while serving as care-giver to both of her parents.
A life-long resident of Nemaha County, Leigh came to SENCA for help when her family, consisting of herself, her husband and two small children, were evicted from their home and found themselves in a homeless situation. Leigh contacted the Nemaha County Outreach Office and made an appointment with the local Family Development Specialist (FDS). Upon completing the required paper work and providing essential documentation, the family qualified to participate in Project FIRST. Project FIRST is an extensive case management program that provides homeless families up to 24 months of case management and financial assistance as they work toward a goal of self-sufficiency.
The Nemaha County FDS referred the young family to SENCA Head Start. Head Start is a comprehensive child development program that serves children ages 3 to 5 and their families with the overall goal of increasing school readiness of young children in low-income families. Head Start involves the whole family through four cornerstones: child development, family partnerships, community partnerships, and staff development. Once the children were enrolled in Head Start, Leigh became actively involved as a parent, Policy Council Member, and advocate always sharing with others the benefits of the program.
Leigh’s family was living within a budget, meeting their basic needs, and the children were thriving in Head Start when a third child was welcomed into the family. With the help provided by SENCA’s life-changing programs, Leigh and her husband finally felt as if things were moving in a positive direction. Life was good. Then later that year tragedy struck with the unexpected death of Leigh’s husband, and father of their three young children. To compound this young widow’s unforeseen situation, Leigh discovered she was pregnant with twins. “I don’t know how we would have gotten through all that we did without the care and support provided by Megan and the wonderful Auburn Head Start team, they were with me and the children every step of the way” comments a sincere and grateful Leigh.
Throughout the next few years Leigh and her children experienced more changes, including happier times. Leigh remarried in 2014 and the family gained a husband, father, and the welcome addition of a sixth child. Leigh remained invested in Head Start with all six children completing the program and entering kindergarten ready to be successful.
When her youngest child was in his last year of Head Start, Leigh became employed with SENCA as a teacher aide. Because of her determination and strong belief in the program, she decided to make a career doing something she enjoys while giving back to others with the same support she received.
Leigh shares “People don’t realize what Head Start families experience, each day is a different challenge. My focus is working with these families to help provide the support and services they need.”