By: Maria Lopez, Health Aide
When I first learned about Mary Crane Center, I was amazed just by reading the mission statement: “The Mary Crane Center promotes the comprehensive early development of children through school-readiness programs, personal enrichment activities, and family support services.” Not only does the agency support the children in their growth but also the entire family. That’s a mission I knew I wanted to be part of!
When I accepted the positon of Health Aide at Mary Crane, I began a wonderful journey to witness and participate in families receiving support for housing, mental health, nutrition and employment, among others. As a Health Aide, my job is to provide all the resources that I can to ensure that every child has the best health care possible. I support our children and their families by assisting them with finding clinics that accept their medical insurance, and provide transportation to and from medical appointments. I also love to engage expert health insurance personnel to assist families in the enrollment for health coverage. In my role, I have created cooperative agreements with local health care facilities such as Sonrisa Family Dental office and Norwegian American Hospital. They come out to our sites and provide immunizations, physical and dental exams for free.
One of my happiest achievements is that our children do not cry as soon as they hear the word dentist or doctor anymore, and parents are taking them more often for checkups. Now every time that a child sees me in the classroom, they quickly want to come with me when I leave because they think I’m going to take them to the doctor or dentist! They are learning the importance of being healthy and not being afraid of medical professionals.
We all have different “purposes” at Mary Crane Center but we all encourage and provide individual family support. I am always looking for new resources to provide to the families, and this could not be possible without the support from the staff in the two Mary Crane Center sites that I service, our West Garfield Park and Austin locations.
I am delighted to be a part of this team at Mary Crane that understands that healthy families mean excellent early childhood education! I’m glad I saw that mission statement that transformed my life and allows me to contribute to the transformation of so many families’ lives in Chicago.