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2021 Night of Hope Speech
Good evening everyone and thank you for all being here tonight. Thank you Char for the introduction. So like Char said, my name is Jennifer Ryan. My son, Thomas, was in the Penguin Room with Miss Debbie back in 2018/2019 when I went back to school to Binghamton University to get my MBA. I decided to go back to school after taking a few years off to work after getting my Associates Degree at Broome Community College and then my Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting at the University of Albany.
First, let me go back a few years before that decision was made. I was working in Albany, living with my husband at the time. It seemed like we had it all together – built a house on a corner lot and literally had the picket fence (although it wasn’t white!) Two months before Thomas’s first birthday, he told me he didn’t want to be married anymore. I won’t go into details of course but the divorce was hard and left me with a lot of time to think and spend time with my little man as I always used to call him.
I always knew I wanted to get my Master’s and I actually purchased a huge book to study for the GMAT right before I got pregnant with Thomas but then the timing didn’t work out. As he got older, it was always something in the back of my mind that I held onto – and in 2018, it was the ideal time to go back. Thomas was starting Pre-K at Chenango Valley and he was old enough to understand that mama was going back to school too. Pre-K was only a half day program in the afternoon though and I had classes in the morning too. I didn’t know where to turn and I’m sure many of you know that as a parent, it’s hard to trust just any daycare or anyone else with your child – do they have too many kids, is he going to get along with everyone, will he be okay? Then I came to Mom’s House and that worry instantly melted away. From the second I walked in the door, I felt a weight lift off my shoulders and it was an overwhelming feeling of welcome. After I met Miss Judy and Miss Debbie and all of the other teachers and staff, I knew this was one of the good places that Thomas would love and I could trust, which also meant I could concentrate on school while I was there, knowing he was in a loving and educational environment that would give him the skills he needed to be ready for Kindergarten. We went shopping to get our school supplies ready and were able to pack our backpacks together in the mornings and talk about our days in the afternoon.
As the school year was progressing for both of us, I looked forward to graduating. I had an idea in my mind of what I wanted graduation to be. I thought, if Thomas is old enough to realize I’m going back to school now, maybe at graduation, a memory we could both remember forever would be him walking across the stage with me. I thought it would always just be a good idea but I happened to meet someone at a race in April (I’ve been an avid runner for years!) and told her my vision and she made it happen – Thomas walked across the stage with me at my graduation. All of this is to say, I wouldn’t have been able to do any of this without Mom’s House love and support to get us to that day, along with the support and unconditional love of my parents and boyfriend, Ryan.
The people I have met at Mom’s House are some of the nicest, warmest people I have ever known and there will always be a place in our hearts for them all. We were welcomed with open arms, kind words, support, and encouragement from day one and every day we were there thereafter. They took such good care of Thomas – teaching him new things, learning in fun ways, providing healthy food, and letting him grow into the fun, loving, very energetic boy that he is today. When I got out of class and came back to Mom’s House, I was able to get work done in the Cortese Room which was another factor that led to success in school. When it was time to leave for the day, Thomas never wanted to go – he wanted to stay with Miss Debbie and his friends and play longer or show me the project they worked on that day, the book they had read, or the tower they built with blocks. I really can’t say enough good things or thank everyone enough for what they have done for us.
After going to school for about a month, since Binghamton University prides itself on making sure students have jobs out of college, we had to attend the career fair. Again, I was able to do that because of Mom’s House and knowing Thomas would be in good hands. I got my resume ready and mapped out potential employers. One stop was BAE – I met someone that was working there that I had actually gone to high school with and after hearing about his experiences, I gave him my resume. A few weeks later, I received a call and set up a phone interview. After that, I was invited to a dinner and an interview the next day. I remember having the conversation with Miss Judy that it seemed like a lot and I wasn’t sure I was up for all of that. She told me to go, and my parents and Ryan shared the same sentiment. I went, and had a job set up for May. I know God has a plan for everything and I have placed my faith in him more so over the past few years than I had prior in my life. This was all part of His plan – going back to school, Mom’s House, and my job.
I graduated on a Friday and started at BAE on a Monday as a senior financial analyst. Like Char mentioned earlier, I was promoted about a year ago at this point. I love the company and people I work with and for. Ryan and I were able to able to buy a house together in April 2020 and made it a home. My happily ever after didn’t turn out quite as I expected it when I got married but now I realize, it’s better and stronger.
I see Char at church on Sunday’s and follow the Facebook page to see what events are next and how I am able to give back. I just participated in the walk a thon Saturday and am able to donate to Mom’s House monthly because of the position I am in at work and because I believe so strongly in their cause.
I can’t thank Mom’s House enough for the love and support they gave Thomas and myself throughout that year. The dedication and love for each child and parent that walks through their doors is extraordinary and each person truly becomes part of the Mom’s House family.