How long have you been volunteering with Family Forward and how did you get started?
“Boldness has genius, magic, and power in it. Begin it now.” ― Steven Pressfield, The War of Art
Activists must be bold- They must have the audacity to believe that they can change entrenched power-structures that exploit women, oppress people of color and ignore children and the disabled. I began volunteering with Family Forward in May of 2017 as a bold step to advocate for the children and families I work with and for myself as a single-mother. I have been in the field of education since 1999. With 13 years as a certified early childhood educator under my belt I felt the pain of being employed in low-paying field, and the exhaustion of juggling full-time single motherhood as well as a business. I wanted to continue to serve families as an educator, but I was burning-out and struggling to support my daughter. I have seen so many talented educators leave the field over the years due to low pay and have seen the effect this has had on the early childhood education workforce. I didn’t want to be another casualty. I knew our children deserved better; and I knew my daughter deserved better. So, I asked a particularly informed parent at my work if she knew of any resources regarding poverty, families, and early childhood education and she referred me to Family Forward. I decided that now was the time to advocate for better pay for early childhood educators during my personal struggles, and in the face of all forms of systemic resistance, not necessarily because I consider myself an activist, but because I consider myself someone who cares. Love, care, and elbow grease can overcome all forms of resistance.
What’s your favorite part about volunteering with FFO?
“Don’t listen to the voice inside yourself that says I can’t. Listen to the voice inside you that says, I CAN.” – Shirley Chisholm
My favorite part about volunteering with Family Forward is seeing the many diverse groups that come together to help advance family-friendly policies. I no longer feel alone in my struggle and I have hope that things can change for the better if we stay in the work. I also love how organized and focused Family Forward is – I really feel like the energy I am putting into my volunteering is producing tangible results. Family Forward helps me feel like that if I CAN, WE CAN.
Why is it important to be involved in organizing and activism? What advice would you give others, especially moms and other caregivers, that are struggling to make time to be active in their community?
“Love isn’t a state of perfect caring. It is an active noun like struggle. To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and now.” -Fred Rogers
The work that Family Forward is doing is so important. I urge all families and caregivers to get involved and advocate for themselves, because no one else is going to do it for you. Parenting is hard enough without having to worry about how you are going to make ends meet. The work you do as a parent is literally shaping the future of the nation – we need public policy that supports us. My advice to moms and dads who struggle to make the time for volunteering is to engage at any level you are able. From internet campaigns, to phone banking, to donating funds, to writing opinion pieces for your local paper, to attending town halls, to writing or calling your representatives, or simply informing yourself of the issues and talking with friends; there are time commitments that fit everyone’s schedule. But the most important thing you can do is also one of the least time-consuming: VOTE! (And register others to vote). Your activism doesn’t have to be perfect- It’s your continued engagement over the long haul that will make a difference. Practice self-care, have self-compassion and do what you can right now. The best encouragement I’ve received regarding this came from a Family Forward staffer- “Your voice is strong, and your voice is true.” Believe in yourself. Love yourself. Stay in the struggle.
Want to join Tiffany in becoming an activist in our community? Join one of our activist teams in your region! Learn more here.