Guadalupe Mendoza used to drop off her kids for pre-school, then make a quick and silent retreat.
“I hid away,” says Mendoza, mother of five children aged 18 to 5; all but the oldest attended the Head Start/ECEAP (Early Childhood Education Assistance Program) at Walla Walla’s Blue Ridge Elementary School. “I didn’t allow myself to have a connection with the staff.”
Three years ago, Mendoza began volunteering with the pre-school. Then she attended a moms’ group. Still, she shied away from the Parent Policy Council, a group of Head Start/ECEAP parents and community members who review budgets, help make program decisions and plan events.
“I thought it was not going to interest me. Executive stuff: it sounds scary and intimidating,” Mendoza says. But other parents and staff encouraged her. “I realized: Oh, my voice counts. I realized how much of an impact [the Parent Policy Council] has. This year, I ran for president.”