From Community Member to Community Partner: Meet Wendy Agelvis
Before Wendy Agelvis was a Family Lifeline Parent Educator, she was a parent enrolled in our Growing Well early-childhood home visiting programming. In the following interview, Wendy reflects on both sides of programming and discusses how this unique perspective has helped her build the future she wants for herself, her family, and other families in her community.
What is it like working for Family Lifeline after being in our program?
Before I worked here, I went to the Women, Infant, and Children’s (WIC) office, where I saw a form that said there was a program where people provide in-home services to support and help mothers with their child’s development and growth. I filled out the application without imagining that it would be one of the best decisions I ever made for my life and my child’s life.
My son and I were in the Growing Well program for three and a half years. When I was applying for the position of Parent Educator, I had to think about it a lot because my son would no longer be in the program, but I also thought that as a Parent Educator I could continue to help my son grow.
Being able to stay with Family Lifeline as a Parent Educator has brought me great joy. I’ve been able to work with administration, program managers, and other Parent Educators---everyone works with determination and intention to support families. Family Lifeline is just a big family helping one another.
Before I was a Parent Educator, my Parent Educator would visit me in my home. They were naturally respectful and kind. Now being on the other side, I know the hard work they do to prepare these visits---nothing is improvised. All Parent Educators have extensive training that is always up-to-date, in order to provide the best quality service to all families.
I applied to work at Family Lifeline because I know how they helped me personally learn about the cognitive, social, and emotional development of my son, as well as the well-being of my family. My Parent Educator helped me fill out applications for childcare and Pre-K for my son because I didn’t know how to. They also provided me with many resources that I didn’t know existed, which I only found out about through the program.
Now, is my time to help other families who, like me, don’t know where to turn to, know that they are not alone.
After joining Family Lifeline, I’ve seen the other types of programs offered to pregnant mothers, children, people with disabilities, and older adults uphold a beautiful mission and vision. I am very proud to be a part of Family Lifeline.
What is the best part of being a Parent Educator?
The best part of being a parent educator is that I help, support, and strengthen families. I also have the opportunity to connect them to a variety of resources such as social, emotional, cognitive, and economic. I get to be a part of families’ journeys as they further develop their abilities and skills for a healthy and empowered home, whether it is the parents, sibling, or child.
Having gone through the program, I know personally how important it is to help and motivate families so that they are not alone. Parent Educators are here to provide guidance and support families in their relationship with one another, so that children have a stable environment as they grow.
What is one piece of advice you would give other parents?
I encourage parents and caregivers to enroll in the programs offered by Family Lifeline. The program really works and serves the community with free and voluntary services. All staff members are highly qualified and trained regularly. There is no discrimination based on race, color, social distinction, or immigration status.
My family and I were in the program for three and a half years. My Parent Educator provided a lot of guidance and support. They provided me with information about what healthy and appropriate development should be like for my child’s age. They also taught me how to observe as well as detect behaviors and development that did not align with age. My Parent Educator gave me guidance and assisted me through different processes such as benefits, childcare, Pre-K, and legal aid, but above all, I learned about places I could take my son so that he could further his social skills.
How is Dylan? What does he like doing these days?
Dylan is very happy and intelligent. He speaks Spanish, and now, since attending daycare as well as Pre-K, he can speak, sing, count to 20, and write his name in English.
He loves going to the aquarium, the children’s museum, and the science museum—he takes care of the bugs. He tells us that when we go back to New York, he wants to go on a boat ride and see the Statue of Liberty. He also wants to go to the museum—to see the mammoth there.
While enrolled in programming last May, Wendy and her son, Dylan, were featured in our 2022 Spring Give Campaign. Watch their story here:
Learn more about our Growing Well programming for children and families and make a donation in support of our work.