At CLiF, much of our work occurs behind the scenes. We spend many hours scheduling events, organizing logistics, communicating with coordinators who are on the ground in various communities throughout Vermont and New Hampshire. While we love what we do, nothing compares to hanging up the phone, logging off our email, and stepping out from behind our desks to get face-to-face with the communities, families, and children we serve.
Thankfully, on Mother’s Day weekend, every last one of us got to do just that. Duncan and Jana spent the morning at the Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility (CRCF) greeting the children of incarcerated women who were visiting for a special Mother’s Day event. Meanwhile, Meredith and Gretchen watched hundreds of kids flood through the activities tent at Kids Day in Burlington. As in years past, CLiF’s activity was magnetic poetry, and every child who wrote a poem received a book or prize of his/her choice. Scroll down for pictures of just a handful of the many wonderful poems children created.
Here’s what Jana had to say about the touching event at CRCF:
Each day spent apart from their children and families is difficult for the women incarcerated at the VT women’s facility in South Burlington. However, Mother’s Day can be an especially difficult and emotional holiday. In partnership with Lund’s Kids-A-Part program, CLiF had a unique opportunity to host a special storytelling presentation and book giveaway for the children who arrived for visiting day. This holiday event was the most recent in a series of literacy events CLiF has provided for the women and children at the facility as part of the year long Children of Prison Inmates grant.
Expectant kids lined up to pass through the metal detectors before entering the visiting space. In response to some impatient fidgeting, one caregiver remarked to her young companion, “Once you get in there time flies right by.” Enthusiastic “Mom!” greetings rang out as everyone finally rushed toward the waiting group of women. The welcoming activity was an impressive pancake breakfast followed by arts and crafts and an open gym. In a scene copied from my own living room an hour earlier, a young boy zoomed past me in the hallway pushing a large yellow Tonka truck.
During the CLiF storytelling presentation, Duncan McDougall entertained the group with the classic children’s story “Sylvester and the Magic Pebble.” Young audience members chimed in readily with lion and wolf noises at the appropriate moments. CLiF’s book giveaways are always an event highlight, and this occasion was no exception. Classics like “Curious George” and “Goodnight Moon” found new homes alongside more recent hits such as “The Red Pyramid” and “Lemony Snickett.”
A note posted on the wall by a mother in the Kids-A-Part program states a simple but powerful goal: “Be the best mom I can.” CLiF is honored to be part of that process by fostering family connections through literacy.
And now for a sampling of the many wonderful poems crafted at Kids Day: