Below is Amanda’s speech given at our 2010 Solution of Hope Banquet.

Good afternoon, I would like to start of by thanking everyone for coming to join us in support of Mom’s House. My name is Amanda, and I am a recent graduate of Mom’s House. This spring I graduated Phi Theta Kappa from Broome Community College with a degree in Business Administration, Associates in Science. In addition to graduating I was also honored with the Spring 2010 Mom’s House Scholarship. I loved the experience so much I am back again and looking forward to pursuing my four year degree in Environmental Science. As for Mom’s House, well….We just couldn’t stay away.

When I began on my educational quest, I thought it would be easy but I quickly found out it was not. There was a slew of paperwork, guidelines, requirements, and the scariest of all, daycare for my most precious gifts, my children. I interviewed with daycare after daycare unsatisfied with the quality of the institutions and the erroneously high fees associated with them. But…the key factor for me missing from these places was the quality of care.

My first experience with Mom’s House came when a friend recommended them to me during my attempt to return to school. I thought what kind of a name is that for a daycare, who do they think they are? Well, I found out…they are me, they are you, they are friends and they are family. It feels like home, where you can wear slippers, and you can guarantee there is always laundry and dishes to do. While I was feeling around blindly in the dark, Mom’s House was my light at the end of the tunnel. Mom’s House has given me the gift of a lifetime, the opportunity to further my education.

Mom’s House has provided all of us with unquestionably fantastic care. Every morning we would arrive and you could not get more than two steps without a sunshine smile from someone. At night you would leave knowing that someone had complete faith in you.

The services provided to the parents and children are excellent. The first Wednesday of every month we participated in workshops that ranged from the importance of financial success to baking and working on our cars. We are extremely lucky to be involved with experiences like this, who else is going to take time out of their schedule to explain to us that we should NEVER take off the radiator cap? Or take time out of their day to explain to us the importance of being financially responsible? People like those sitting here tonight do and have. People who take the time to care about us and our kids and those who have come before us and those who will continue to come after us. That’s what Mom’s House is; it’s the people who care, not the building where our kids stay. It’s the parents who give their children all that they deserve, we all need a little help sometimes and here we have it. They don’t expect anything in return, in fact it is just the opposite, the staff and volunteers are always slipping me delicious family recipes or handing down purses and clothing, not just for my kids but for me too. They genuinely care about our happiness, they just want to see us succeed and to reach our goals.

I have two children, Kaelie, 5, who is also a recent Mom’s House graduate and now new to the kindergarten world, and Parker, who is a 3 year old in a 20 year old linebacker body, who is currently at Mom’s House. There is something about Kaelie and Parker and the changes I have seen in them since we started there. I have seen immense change. My baby boy is no longer a baby, but a little man, and my daughter has blossomed from a little girl into a young lady ready to face the world and school ahead. This is due greatly to the staff, teachers and volunteers that put their time, energy and love into caring for my children while I am pursuing my dreams.

Education is not just what you learn in school but it is also an appreciation for the time that goes into raising and teaching children from birth to our precious kindergarten years. I have found comfort from the other parents at Mom’s House and support from them in my home life and on the occasional math test. I have come to call these people my equals and also my friends. It’s a happier world knowing that there are other people out there struggling and fighting the same fight.

It is not easy work being a parent and going to school, but with genuine love and support, a lot of determination and hard work, the intangible becomes tangible. This educational adventure has been trying to my stress level, my patience, and my waistline, but the unquestioning outreach from others is my driving force.

I want to send a million thanks to the volunteers, who we could not do without. You give that little extra without being asked and love unconditionally, and I know I could not pay for the kind of care you provide. The staff who continue to prove that their dedication to our children and our future is immeasurable and that patience is possible.

Unfortunately not all days are bright sunny rainbows and lollipops, there are days when you may sit and cry, because the financial squeeze of life has its hold on you, and you do not know how you are going to get those pair of winter boots for your child. That is where our local family steps in, our community, individuals and groups reaching out a hand to let us know they are there. I found that as I am writing this speech and think how do I tell my community, our silent saints, thank you? How do you tell hundreds, thousands of people thank you for having my back when I needed it most? You help to wipe away our worrisome tears, bring joy to our children’s faces, you help support us financially, you believe in our cause. YOU are the game changer, making it possible to ‘go confidently in the direction of our dreams and live the life we have imagined’. The donations and support that have been made to us go beyond words, so know that we will never forget you.

We have been shown that love is more than a noun – it is a verb; it is more than a feeling…it is caring, sharing, helping, and sacrificing. I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the community, and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. Thank you to Mom’s House and everyone supporting our families. Thank you.