If you google the definition for the word devotion, the words love, loyalty, and enthusiasm appear. All of these words precisely describe our friend and colleague Sarah Benjamin’s long relationship with The Parent Child Home Program. Sarah has dedicated much of her career to PCHP, despite many obstacles that have tested her ability to continue to offer this desperately needed program to the many underserved and vulnerable preschoolers and their parents. Over the years she has worked tirelessly to secure funding and sustain the Program in her community and for homeless families across Long Island -- writing proposals, driving long distances to pick-up donated curriculum materials, and constantly advocating the power and success of the Program. During her long tenure as a PCHP coordinator, she has worked with hundreds of families to empower them to prepare their children for school success and to advocate for themselves in the school and community. Many of these families she supports are dealing with complex issues, such as homelessness and education and language barriers, that impact their daily lives and their ability to support their children. Sarah’s devotion to each individual family and her belief in their ability to succeed is evident when you observe her interacting directly with families or when you listen to her relate an individual family’s success story in detail.
Sarah truly believes in the power and the ability of PCHP to change people’s lives. She knows that the young children and families who spend two years in the Program will enter pre-k and kindergarten prepared to be successful students. She has made it her mission and life’s work to bring this program to as many families as she can on Long Island with whatever resources she can obtain and maintain. The pictures of Long Islanders frolicking on the beaches and vineyards in the Hamptons contrasts sharply with the Long Island families living in poverty with whom the Program works, and Sarah is committed to educating the community about these disparities, whether it be at a community school board meeting or on a phone call or site visit with a local legislator. Her expertise in the field of early childhood development coupled with her experience and her passion for building a better world are all part of her commitment to implement her personal mission.
The PCHP mission, which Sarah totally embodies, tells you the power of her impact on people’s lives: “Every child enters school ready to succeed because every parent has the knowledge and resources to build school readiness which starts in the home”. Sarah runs her PCHP site and trains and supports her home visiting staff with a singular focus on providing vulnerable, struggling, low-income, families with the necessary skills and tools to help their children succeed and thrive in school and life. Data from program and school assessments as well as statements from school personnel and the families themselves and powerful success stories support these statements. Research based studies from the PCHP National Center further document the Program’s impact on high school graduation rates.
I admire Sarah’s passion and commitment, her openness and her ability to see good and potential in all people, especially the families in her program. Her passion is reflected in her daily work and she truly reflects the “heart and soul” of PCHP. She never gives up.
The Parent-Child Home Program would use the generous donation to further expand the reach of the site that Sarah directs on the North Fork of Long Island, New York. This support would be used for supplies, such as the books and toys that are the Program’s curriculum, as well as staff time and travel to reach low income families across the region. Sarah works tirelessly every year to pull together funding for the program from foundations, local organizations, and private donors. This donation would enable her to reach more families in need and provide their children with the keys to school readiness and school success.