Once each year we stop to say thank you to the most important person in our world – our mother. She loves unconditionally, is our first and most important teacher, and our constant source of strength and love through good times and bad.
Here at Children First, we understand there is no more important job in the world, which is why we work so hard to care not only for our young students, but to put our moms and dads on a path toward success.
Meet Elaine Bellamy, who, for nearly four years, has worked as a Family Advocate here at Children First. Elaine is the mother of five adult children and eight grandchildren. Two of her children, Raven and Brianna, are Head Start parents, and two of her grandchildren, 3-year-old Adrian and 4-year-old Lorenzo, are enrolled in the Children First Head Start program.
Elaine and her family have lived in Bradenton for 21 years. She worked for 13 years at First Step, and after earning her master’s degree in addiction studies and human services, she decided to shift careers and started working at Children First. As a Family Advocate, she works closely with families, helping them to achieve self-sufficiency. “We support our families with counseling, if needed, and help them meet their educational and career goals,” she said. “After all, if Mom and Dad, or the caretaker is doing well, then the kids will do well.”
Elaine says Children First has helped her own daughters with motivation and by providing additional support outside of the family. “I support both of my children, in all of their dreams and endeavors, but having that outside support is exactly what they needed,” she said.
For example, Brianna has recently transitioned to civilian life after 10 years in the Air Force. “They were so helpful as she continued her journey, helping her set new goals for life outside the military,” Elaine said. Today, Brianna is a stay-at-home mom, while caring for her husband’s grandmother, who is 98. She hopes to teach elementary school starting later this summer.
Raven is a single mom, and her Family Advocate has helped her reach levels that she had given up on. She has started her own salon, is doing great things, and knows she has options now. She views herself and her family as a success.
(Left to right: VP of Programs Kathleen Sullivan, Director of Family Services Meredith Mitchell, Adrian and Raven, and CEO Philip Tavill)
Elaine describes both of her grandchildren as energetic and very smart. “They are my little cuddlebugs,” Elaine said. “They just melt my heart. They really do.” And, yes, she occasionally peeks in on them during the day at Children First, encouraging them to “have an amazing day.”
As a mom, Elaine said, when we support a child, we are giving them the green light to be the very best person they can be.
“The reality is that no child is looking for a perfect parent, only one who loves and supports them each and every day,” she said. “We, as moms, must know and understand our approach to motherhood will be unique to us and our situation, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Embrace it and just keep being the best mom that you can possibly be.”
Elaine loves her job at Children First. “It gives me the opportunity to watch these families grow and evolve into something they may have never dreamed they could be – even if it’s just being a loving, supporting parent to their own children. I get to see the results of my work every day, in the smiling faces of those precious children,” she said.
Happy Mother’s Day from our family to yours! We hope that all of the moms out there enjoy their special day.