The BronxWorks HIPPY program “has been one of the most enduring of our partnerships,” says executive director Carolyn McLaughlin. Its impact on nearly 2,000 children over the past 20 years is due to significant collaboration. It was NCJW’s New York Section, led by Nicky Heller and Nancy Rubinger, that first brought the HIPPY model to BronxWorks in 1992 and has always been instrumental in HIPPY’s success.
Volunteers from NCJW enrich the program, adding essential support, advice, and crucial referrals to funders, as well as a team of advocates providing new possibilities for HIPPY families. Recognizing that parents are their children’s first teachers, NCJW volunteers under the current leadership of Sue Plastrik and Carol Haber have offered a plethora of new skills, enrichment, and small scholarship possibilities.
Veronica Carreras (pictured center, with her children) and her family are an exemplary model of the program’s impact. “HIPPY has changed my life,” she says, “and has helped all of my children.” Twenty years ago, Veronica first learned about HIPPY when she was on line to cash a check. She happened to meet a parent educator who told her that HIPPY would help her five-year-old do well when she started kindergarten. A single mother who was not working at the time, Veronica enrolled her daughter and herself found employment as the HIPPY’s first bilingual parent educator. The next year, she also signed up her son, and later her two younger children.
HIPPY is a home-based early childhood development and parent education program. It gives parents the tools help prepare 3–5-year-olds for success in kindergarten and beyond. The program offers structured activities that give parents the confidence to engage their children in educational activities, removing language and education barriers. HIPPY also enables parents to develop strong bonds with their children and allows the whole family to see the home as a learning environment. A HIPPY parent educator works with each family, visiting their home to provide support and introduce new lessons through role playing. HIPPY’s program coordinator, Judith Santos, says it is “the best tool a parent can have to teach their child to be successful at school and in life.” HIPPY is a bilingual English-Spanish program, which is critical given the Bronx’s large Latin American immigrant population.
Veronica reflects, “HIPPY had a great impact on my children. They saw how I could be their teacher while at home, and my oldest even helped me out as an at-home teacher for my youngest child.” Now, her two oldest have graduated from college and have full-time jobs, her other son is in college, and her youngest is in high school with plans to start college when she graduates in two years.
HIPPY inspired Veronica to go back to school and earn an associate’s degree from Hostos Community College. “It wasn’t easy getting a degree in early childhood education while raising children, but the HIPPY program gave me the motivation to do so.” Veronica will be pursuing a bachelor’s degree in the near future.
As a parent educator, Veronica says, “It was heartwarming to see how the children and parents had progressed.” Veronica also notes that “HIPPY has given me a chance to meet women whose experiences are similar to mine. I realize that I’m not alone in this journey through life.”
BronxWorks realizes that we too are not alone as we celebrate 20 years of synergy with NCJW and the HIPPY program. It is only thanks to the support of these meaningful and successful partnerships that the BronxWorks HIPPY program is lifting lives and building futures of children and families in our community.
HIPPY’s curriculum provides parent-administered lessons and literacy activities, encouraging structured engagement between parents and their preschool children. These help children acquire skills important for educational success in kindergarten and beyond (e.g. critical thinking, focus, motor skills). NCJW is an organization of volunteers inspired by Jewish values to strive for social justice by improving the quality of life for women, children, families, and the elderly. Learn more at ncjwny.org.
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