Bi-County Community Action Programs

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December 6, 2017 / 5 mins read

BI-CAP Head Start Program Selects and is Awarded 2 MHSA Head Start Heros!

This year, Head Start Heroes’, a recognition event provided in March by the Minnesota Head Start Association, has selected two previous BI-CAP Head Start participants as Head Start Heroes!

Amy Gordon – Amy has received the Head Start Alumni award, as someone who has become involved in their local Head Start program. Amy is quoted as saying “Head Start came to my home and that was the day my life began to change”. At 18 years old, Amy was a young mom when she enrolled in the Early Head Start program. Amy was also experiencing a very challenging personal life. She has shared how the encouragement and relationship with program staff enabled her to develop personal and parenting skills and she credits moving forward through those challenges by experiencing the program’s parenting support and becoming a community representative on the Policy Council. Amy began to feel empowered and a part of a world she never knew existed.

While Amy’s personal life was disadvantaged and challenging and jobs were hard to find, Amy banked on her strong relationships with the Backus Head Start center to finally ask for assistance in pursuing her dream to be a preschool teacher. Excelling in her collegiate path, Amy continued on her path with courage, self-esteem and strength, and finally took the last step in managing the challenges in her personal life.

Amy has been a teacher for BI-CAP’s Head Start program for four years now, and BI-CAP is not only lucky to employ her, but to realize that we do create change in people’s lives.

Ashley Charwood - Ashley is the parent recipient of the Head Start Heroes Award. Her first interaction with BI-CAP was as a student in BI-CAP’s YouthBuild program. Ashley shared this is how she became aware of other BI-CAP programs that have supported her over the years, in particular Head Start. Ashley also noted that BI-CAP’s Cass County Head Start had employed and provided assistance for Ashley’s mother in acquiring her degree and work experience, as well.

Ashley shared that “Head Start has empowered me to stand firm in my resolve as being the first and most important teacher in the lives of my children. No one knows them better than I do.” Her participation in Head Start through her 3-year old daughter’s enrollment not only supported her attendance in college, but developed her (and her husband’s) resolve to become active and participate in the Policy Council, both in Pennsylvania and at BI-CAP. She also credits Head Start in helping her learn how to navigate the IEP process with confidence and to advocate speech services for her son.

Ashley has worked hard and has taken her developed resolve in directions that support and mirror the vision, mission and values of Community Action. Her Head Start experiences have moved her forward with serving young children and as a licensed Social Worker, she currently works with the Bemidji School district on the Early Childhood Screening Team and at the University of North Dakota, as a GTA, teaching in a Social Work Class. Ashley is also the Northwest MN Regional Coordinator for the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits and in the past year, has received the Catalytic Leader Award.

Ashley’s perseverance is evident - not only is she the mother of four children, but she is also taking courses towards her Masters in Social Work at UND and has recently been to Sweden to learn their social policies to bring ideas back to MN and the Bemidji area in hopes to evoke positive change in our communities.

Ashley’s path with BI-CAP, as she’s traveled through her start in YouthBuild and Head Start, has come full circle, as she is now an active BI-CAP Board member and serves as chair of the Governance Committee. BI-CAP’s area communities have also prospered from Ashley’s drive and commitment back to the community in serving others, and is a reflection to the supports that were provided to her from Community Action, when needed.