Hello, my name is Clare, and my almost three year old daughter is Brenna.

We spent two years at Mom’s House, until this past December when I graduated from Binghamton University with a Bachelor of Science in Biology. I am presently a zookeeper at Ross Park Zoo, and I am planning on beginning a Master’s program in wildlife biology next fall.

I want to take this opportunity to thank Mom’s House for helping Brenna and me in so many ways during this time. I also want to thank three people, who I know I have not said thank you to enough, and those would be my parents and Brenna’s father, Erik. I was attending University of Scranton when I became pregnant. I finished my second year there, and Brenna was born after that on August 10, 1998. Since that time, my parents have provided a roof over our heads, as well as unconditional love, for which I cannot thank them enough. And Erik has been with us every step of the way, as I trust he will be in the future.

But now, back to Mom’s House. My father mentioned Mom’s House to me, and at the time I knew I wanted to finish school, but I wasn’t really sure how. Mom’s House sounded like a great opportunity, and since there was, at the time, a Mom’s House right down the street from me, I thought it would be convenient too. But then I found out that they did not have any openings there, but the Endicott house did.

During my visit to Endicott, one of the first things I noticed was how everything was so clean. When Judy took me on a tour, I also immediately felt the warm and friendly atmosphere. Everyone seemed so calm and loving, although I guess it did help a little that it was naptime. I also understood from that first day, that this was not just going to be a free ride.

Parents were expected to do well in school, but also contribute to Mom’s House through service and fundraising time. And I have to say, some of my fondest memories are from doing my service time. I got to know all staff, volunteers, parents, and children while I was cleaning, or helping the teachers in a room, or helping Diane with the newsletter. And I got to practice my cooking skills those semesters when I helped cooked the meals, so that was another benefit.

I really liked that sense of involvement in Brenna’s care, and the fact that although I was not directly paying for daycare, my involvement was still essential.

I need to thank God now for the blessing that Brenna has been since the first moments of her life. And I thank everyone at Mom’s House for all the love and care that they gave her while she was at Mom’s House. She grew from the sometimes trying baby to a sweet, happy and active little girl. And I came to Mom’s House a new, kind of scared mother, not sure at all of what the future might hold. And now I’m a college graduate, a little more certain of the future, and possessing skills that will help make that future successful. I thank you for all the support that you give to the parents.

If we fulfill our end of the bargain, it seems that there is nothing you won’t do for us: from all the food and clothing donations to the parent workshops, where we acquired some valuable information and had a little fun, like when we made stamp art, Christmas decorations, or we learned the art of massage.

While I was writing this, I was thinking that if this speech had to have a title, an appropriate one might be “Love makes a house a home.” We are all joined by our love of life and children, and kept together by the love and support the clients and children receive from all those connected with Mom’s House. Mom’s House really was like a second home to us, and not just because of the amount of time we spent here. We both enjoyed being at Mom’s House, and felt comfortable and loved, as we would in our own home. I knew I had found a good thing when Brenna used to ask when we were going to Mom’s House. Even before she could talk well, she would smile anytime I asked her if she wanted to go to Mom’s House.

One last thank you. I think I can, on behalf of all the graduates, thank everyone for coming to celebrate with us tonight. Your support is appreciated so much.

And I say congratulations to all the other graduating parents, and wish all of you luck in the future. I know we won’t all follow the same paths, but we will always have the lasting bond in that we achieved the missions of this wonderful place, Mom’s House.