According to Wikipedia “It takes a village to raise a child” is an African proverb where an entire community of people must interact with children for those children to experience and grow in a safe and healthy environment. In Swahili, the proverb means: “Whomsoever is not taught by the mother will be taught with the world.”

Moody Early Childhood Center, with an enrollment of over 200 infants, toddlers, and 3 and 4 year olds, embraces the village concept. It’s apparent when you walk in the door and is more so as you get to know us.

Just recently, the Teen Health Clinic opened on our campus. It’s staffed by a physician’s assistant, assisted by the center’s school nurse. Not only does it take care of our children, but it looks after their families, and eventually will look after more pre-K3, pre-K4 children enrolled in Galveston Independent School District, and their families.

The clinic is made possible by the generous contribution from the Sealy & Smith Foundation. Sealy & Smith Foundation was there to help rebuild The University of Texas Medical Branch after Hurricane Ike, and the foundation is there for Galveston’s little ones and their families now. They’re an essential part of our village.

The medical branch’s departments of occupational therapy and physical therapy rotate student interns throughout our center. This important function allows for early detection of developmental or physical needs and helps resolve those issues as they find them. It provides our faculty and staff training opportunities on how to best work with children of the ages we serve.

The medical branch’s public health organization, in partnership with the center and the First Presbyterian Church, began a Kare-Kit program, which in its first year, delivered dozens of kits containing cleaning, hygiene and other supplies for many families. In its second year, the Kare-Kit program has doubled in size. Thank you medical branch and First Presbyterian Church, you’re both a vital part of our village.

The Galveston Diaper Bank is a nonprofit that raises money and diapers through donations and grants to supply diapers to institutions whose families cannot afford them. That donation averages 1,200 diapers a week. The center’s partnership with the diaper bank is priceless.

The early childhood center would never exist without our philanthropic and financial supporters: The Moody Foundation, the Permanent Endowment of the Moody Memorial First United Methodist Church, United Way, Del Papa Family Foundation, Harris and Eliza Kempner Fund, Herzstein Foundation, Simmons Foundation, Leon Bromberg Charitable Trust, Meadows Foundation, First Presbyterian Church Outreach Fund, Ippolito Family Foundation, Yaga’s Children’s Fund and the Texas Education Agency — all part of our village.

Extremely importantly, our partnership with Galveston ISD, which began when former superintendent, Larry Nichols took a chance on a new idea of a public–private partnership for infants. That idea has grown into the first in-district charter school for infants, toddlers and pre-K students in Texas. A nod to the Texas Legislature that passed House Bill 1882 making our in-district charter possible.

Parents, students, teachers, aids, families, philanthropy, government, professionals in their fields — it truly takes a village.

Jeri Kinnear is vice president of the board of directors for Moody Early Childhood Center and lives in Galveston.

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