PCHP is proud to recognize the wonderful accomplishments of our first ever Parent Literacy Champion, Tammy Edwards! Tammy is a single mother raising her young daughter, Ayanah, while also working, going to school, and caring for her disabled father with whom they live on the Poospatuck Indian Reservation in Mastic, NY.
When Tammy was only 11 years old her mom passed away. Growing up, she moved from house to house on the reservation to stay with different relatives. Despite her loss, Tammy says that she never felt alone. The entire Unkechaug Nation was always there to support and care for her.
When Helen Fechter from the Center Moriches school district met Tammy at the Reservation Community Center where she works, she invited her to participate in the Parent-Child Home Program (PCHP), and Tammy happily accepted. "It sounded like a great opportunity to start Ayanah's education early, and I knew I needed the support," said Tammy. Ayanah couldn't wait for the twice-weekly meetings with their PCHP home visitor, Helen, and the trio delighted in reading her favorite books like "Big Red Dog" and putting together the puzzles that were brought as gifts to the family.
Tammy and Ayanah completed two years in the Program, and Tammy has seen the positive impact of the Program both on her relationship with her daughter and on Ayanah's development. Tammy reflected on her experience, noting, “This Program helped motivate my daughter and me to spend time reading and learning together. I saw that my daughter was learning, but also enjoying herself, which is a great feeling for a parent.” Tammy has since referred many families on the Reservation to the Program and has seen that her friends and neighbors are now more motivated to spend time with their children as well.
Today, Tammy and Ayanah, share one room of their home on the reservation. The space is a bit tight, but it is a language-rich environment and the times they spend there are happy times reading and playing together. Ayanah loves her books, is enrolled in a Head Start preschool program, and is enjoying school and making many new friends.
Tammy has embraced her role as Ayanah's first and most important teacher; she has been inspired by PCHP to be a role model for her daughter. She recently enrolled in a Home Health Aide certification program, and plans to start studying to be a nurse in 2013. "I am so grateful for The Parent-Child Home Program. It is one of the best choices I've made for my daughter and her education," said Tammy. "Since we've joined the Program, every time she sees a book, she picks it up and says, 'Read to me please'. I know PCHP has made a positive difference for Ayanah and me.” In November of 2012, Tammy was selected as Parent Literacy Champion and received a $1,000 scholarship towards her education.