By Marie LeBlanc, Community Partnerships Coordinator
& Sherika Brooks, Executive Assistant
Yesterday, Sherika and I visited the facilities of Bright Beginnings, a long-time Catalogue nonprofit, for a tour and site visit. Bright Beginnings is a “nationally recognized developmental childcare center for homeless infants, toddlers, and preschoolers that prepares vulnerable children for kindergarten while also helping stabilize their families.” As much as we read about the services provided by nonprofits like Bright Beginnings, the impression made by experiencing their impact first-hand is exponentially greater.
After discussing the needs addressed and services provided by the organization, Director of Development and Communications Joan Woods took our small group on a tour through the campus. One of Bright Beginnings’ unique qualities is the way it reclaims the face of homelessness in the District. The children and families it serves experience homelessness — but after walking into one of their well-equipped classrooms and seeing a group of toddlers playing and laughing together, one would never guess it. Despite the smiles on their faces, children from families experiencing homelessness are much more likely to suffer from hunger, behavioral problems, depression, and other emotional problems than their peers. They also typically enter kindergarten at a lower ‘academic’ level than their classmates. Bright Beginnings works to provide an early intervention to these challenges and allow low-income children to begin school equipped with the same tools for success as other children.