Parent Empowerment Conference Draws a Crowd
Parents flocked to a conference to garner new skills in guiding their children to literacy, managing their finances, education for themselves, and even buying a home.
The daylong conference on April 11, sponsored by Springfield Housing Authority’s Talk/Read/Succeed! program and many other local agencies and groups, was held on April 11, 2012 at the MassMutual Center in downtown Springfield.
In all, the conference drew in 175 people, including 131 parents, and many vendors and participants.
Rosemary Hernandez of the Regional Employment Board of Hampden County who organized and helped plan the event, said it was an unqualified success. The empowerment conference, aptly named ‘Getting from Here to There: A Road Map to Family Success,’ will be repeated next year.
“It was exactly what we wanted to see – parents engaged and involved,” Hernandez said.
Workshops ran through the day, focusing on three broad themes: early literacy, financial literacy and career planning.
Parents like Crystal Smith and Zulmarie Perez said they were drawn to the free event because they are looking for job skills, education, and hopefully one day soon, homes of their own.
“This was very good,” said Perez. “I got a lot of information today. I’m going to sign up right now for my GED,” she said.
Smith agreed, adding that the networking was also outstanding.
“I got leads on a few jobs, and a lot of ideas about what I can do to make good things happen in my life,” she said.
Parents from Robinson Gardens and John L. Sullivan Apartments, both involved in the T/R/S! family-based literacy program funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, rode buses provided by the Springfield School Department. Target donated 150 Dr. Seuss books, a hit with parents who arrived early enough to get one before they were gone.
Besides SHA, REB, the School Department and Target, other event sponsors were United Way of Pioneer Valley, the Irene E. and George A. Davis Foundation, Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, Springfield Parent Academy and First Student.
Of the 131 parents, about 30 were from SHA developments, including Robinson, Sullivan, Duggan, Marble Street and Reed.