Empowering Iowa Families

Five years ago, Gaylene’s life looked very different.

She was overwhelmed and raising three young boys, Ethan, Cristian, and Alex. Finances were strained, so she and her partner, José, worked hard to make ends meet. Suddenly, well into her second trimester, Gaylene learned she was pregnant with her daughter, Julieanna.

Left with less time to prepare her home for a fourth child, Gaylene was stressed at the thought of welcoming a little girl into a house with three energetic older brothers. And once Julieanna was born, Gaylene began experiencing postpartum depression.

“While I was in the hospital, someone gave me information for LSI,” Gaylene remembers. “I had raised three boys, but I was worried and didn’t know what to expect with a girl. So, I called LSI.”

Gaylene enrolled in LSI’s Early Childhood Services. The programming provides in-home parenting education visits to families, with an LSI professional providing tips and resources to help parents feel confident and ensure their children hit important developmental milestones.

This service lays a solid foundation for parents and young children across Iowa, and families need a strong support network now more than ever. When you make a gift to LSI, you are providing hundreds of families with access to parenting education and resources.

Gaylene and José began meeting with their LSI worker, Kellie. She provided the family with age-appropriate ideas and developmental activities for the kids, and served as a shoulder to lean on whenever Gaylene or José needed guidance or advice.

After two years of working with Kellie, Gaylene and her family were thriving. But in 2017, the family hit another roadblock: Gaylene’s workplace closed and she lost her job.

While this blow may have caused her to give up hope before, she felt more resilient now. She was not going to let this setback impact her family.

For years, she had seen the positive change Kellie had made in her life, and Gaylene wanted to give back to more children and families like hers. She decided to turn this challenge into an opportunity to pursue a career she’d always dreamed of: becoming a preschool teacher. Gaylene enrolled in college to begin studying early childhood education.

“I used to be a negative person. But with the LSI visits and Kellie’s help, and the time she spent showing us that she cares about us, it’s made a real impact on my outlook,” Gaylene says. “She’s always come in with such positivity, no matter the situation.”

Because Gaylene received the support she needed from Kellie, she felt confident taking a new step that will make a positive impact for more families in her community. But LSI’s work doesn’t stop with the families we are privileged to serve. When you support LSI, you are creating this ripple of change to even more Iowa parents and children.

Through our matching gift campaign, you can double your impact and support Iowa families like Gaylene’s. And when you make a gift today, your contribution will be matched dollar-for-dollar through the end of the year!

As Gaylene studied to earn her degree, her family went through more ups and downs along the way. Gaylene and José decided to separate but with support from Kellie, they continued to co-parent, ensuring their children had a happy, healthy home environment at all times. Kellie was there with a list of resources and community connections for whatever Gaylene and José needed – food assistance, information on community events, or referrals to mental health services and counseling. When two of Gaylene’s sons were diagnosed with ADHD, Kellie was able to connect them to therapy, which helped the family learn the coping skills the boys needed.

Earlier this spring, Gaylene graduated from college. She completed an internship at a preschool and hopes to begin working full-time next school year. She is helping her sons adjust to a new kind of school during COVID-19, and Julieanna entered kindergarten this fall. This school year has come with its extra challenges, but Gaylene feels better prepared and less stressed about helping her children overcome the obstacles.

Gaylene also graduated out of LSI services this year. The family still keeps in touch with Kellie, and Gaylene says she will forever be grateful for the support she received when times were difficult.

“We got so used to Kellie coming to our home for five years, it’s going to be different. But now I know where to turn and how to help my family down the road,” Gaylene says. “I feel like Kellie and LSI actually care about people and parents.”

More Iowa parents are in need of the resources that enabled Gaylene’s family to thrive. You can ensure they have access to LSI’s Early Childhood Services. Please consider making a gift today.

P.S. In 2019, LSI’s Early Childhood Services team completed 11,564 home visits with parents of infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. That’s because of your support of LSI!

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