I am a GEM (“Give Every Month” donor) and I also donate to the ISAAC Endowment Fund. I have been involved with ISAAC for about 12 years. I learned about ISAAC when my children were 2 and 4 years old. At that time, I was teaching a full load at WMU, coordinating the early childhood education program, and managing a research grant on parenting. My husband, Eric was frequently out of town working with religious leaders in India and Israel. It was not the ideal time in my life to take on significant volunteer responsibilities.
At this time when my life felt very fragmented, I received an invitation from Rochelle Habeck at People’s Church to discuss the Nurse Family Partnership (NFP), a support program for low-income moms. During our one-on-one meeting, she described the project and the ISAAC process. This work was in total alignment with my values and my professional skill set. A voice deep inside me told me that this work would be the thread that connected the fragmented pieces of my life. I joined the Early Childhood and Education Task Force.
I started attending the meetings and learned more about the NFP. Soon after I was speaking in front of hundreds of people about child development and the NFP with Dr. Arthur James at an ISAAC public meeting. That night we received a commitment from Kalamazoo County to provide matching funds for a NFP program in Kalamazoo, if funding for NFP was included in the state budget. Then we went to Lansing to convince key people to support the NFP as a budget item. We now have an NFP program in Kalamazoo.
A year later, my friend Takila invited me to her baby shower. I had mentored her from age 8 to 18. She was working full-time and going to KVCC. She told me she was participating in the NFP program along with her sister. I was so grateful that she still had a support system since she had aged out of the program that paired us together years ago. Her nurse was in my book club and was proud of how well she was doing in the program. Now this political action had a face on it and I couldn’t wait to work on the next action.
Since then the Early Childhood and Education Task Force:
- Hosted two county-wide summits on K-12 issues during key budget cycles;
- Developed several advocacy campaigns to stabilize and increase the school aid budget;
- Engaged in a campaign to restore state funding for preschool (GSRP), with help from our local legislators;
- With key partners, launched the committee to develop fully accessible, high quality preschool for every 4-year old in Kalamazoo County – now known as the KC Ready 4s system.
- Partnered with United Way and other social service organizations to work toward creating a trauma-informed, resilient, and healthy Kalamazoo County.
My financial support to ISAAC as a GEM and a donor to the ISAAC Endowment Fund will ensure that ISAAC will be here in the future to advocate for all children and families. If you are able to support ISAAC’s work now and in the future, please consider giving to ISAAC’s Endowment Fund.[Checks go to Kalamazoo Community Foundation with “ISAAC Endowment Fund” in the memo space, 402 E. Michigan Ave, Kalamazoo MI 49007-3888]
Dr. Regena Nelson, Executive Committee member