AUGUST 13, 2018–Every so often, we like to post an uplifting story from one of our 29 Member Centers to bring hope and support to family development workers and caregivers in Colorado. This week, we’re in Aurora, a dense suburb east of downtown Denver. In the late 1970s and 80s, Aurora was the fastest growing municipality in the United States and today is the 54th most populous city in the US. The racial makeup of the city is 61.1% White, 15.7% African American, 4.9% Asian and 28.7% Hispanic or Latino. Aurora also houses a sizeable refugee population, with about 30,000 Ethiopians and Eritreans living in the Denver-Aurora area. Because of this large and diverse population, there are a lot of needs within families and communities that the local government does not have the capacity to address. That’s where FRCA Member Aurora Community Connection (ACC) Family Resource Center comes in.
ACC was founded in 2007 in order to address a gap in services for families in north Aurora. ACC is open to all families, but emphasizes support for low-income families who are marginalized by language and culture. A core value that distinguishes ACC from other non-profits is a commitment to strategically leverage community resources through partnerships and engaging the talents of community residents. ACC staff have cultivated a strong degree of trust with local residents, which contributes to a particularly successful approach to community outreach. As a result, groups such as Aurora Public Schools, Aurora Mental Health, Cooking Matters and the City of Aurora turn to ACC to connect program resources to families in Aurora. A recent story of success within these programs center around two girls who were struggling with reading and writing at their age levels.
Illeana*, age five, began in the ACC tutoring program last summer without a firm grasp of letter recognition in either Spanish or English. Quiet and determined, Illeana worked closely with one of the center’s bilingual youth tutors and slowly mastered the letters of the alphabet through repeated and varied practice. She is now ready to start kindergarten at the expected level of learning for children her age.
Beatrice, age ten, began the tutoring program totally apathetic about reading and writing. She was clear about her reluctance to show any enthusiasm for program activities, and was easily distracted and off task. However, slowly and surely, thanks to her repeated pairing with a particularly engaging youth tutor, Beatrice began to take pleasure in the act of reading for its own sake. She realized there is a whole world of books in ACC’s program library she could connect with on a personal level. These connections were the spark that helped Beatrice to move from short picture books to increasingly complex chapter books. Beatrice comes from a difficult family situation, and told center staff that she felt very welcome and comfortable in the program. Towards the end, she even started coming for tutoring every single day!
Thanks to the wonderful family development workers at Aurora Community Connection, these two young girls are now thriving in their education and will feel the positive impacts of the family resource center for years to come. FRCA hopes that you will find inspiration in these positive stories and continue to work hard to change the trajectory for families around Colorado.
To learn more about Aurora Community Connection, visit their website at www.auroracommunityconnection.com.
If you would like to submit your own success story, please contact Erin Osovets at [email protected].
*names have been changed