On Thursday, May 9th a group of Tūtū and Me Traveling Preschool alumni on the Big Island came together to feed the hungry.
The community meal happens at St. James Episcopal Church in Waimea every Thursday evening. Anywhere from 300 to 500 meals are served to the people who come, as well as delivered to the elderly and home-bound in the area.
Meals are organized and sponsored by individuals and groups, as well as corporations and other organizations. The Tūtū and Me alumni sponsorship was an idea cooked up by former Tūtū and Me parent Kelly Barrick, who believed the meal would be a great way to both reunite the keiki and serve their community.
Sixteen year-old Malia McKendry was one of the Tūtū and Me alumni serving at the meal, and said that the event helped her rediscover the bonds she made with her peers while attending the Traveling Preschool.
“Tūtū and Me was a place where I could build the skills I needed to enter the world of school, skills like communications, being comfortable around other kids my age as well as adults, and a love of learning,” she said.
Her mother Fiona McKendry echoed the importance of the program and the wonderful experiences her two keiki had there — with their age overlap, she and her ʻohana attended the program for seven years!
“I have a big appreciation for Tūtū and Me and recommend the program to everyone with young children,” Fiona said. “We all loved our varied experiences and the kids were well-prepared for their entry into kindergarten.”
Both Fiona and her two keiki talked about how the Tūtū and Me curriculum was supportive of their early childhood development. The range of activities provided by the staff ensured that every child’s developmental needs were met, and allowed the parents to grow with one another, too.
Several of the parents from this cohort kept in touch following their children’s graduation from the program. The closeness of the community meant that despite attending different schools, the kids have been able to grow up together and enjoy each other’s company from keiki to teen.
When asked if they would again come together to do something for their community, keiki and adults alike responded with a resounding ‘yes!’
“Ultimately Tūtū and Me was a big part of all of our lives,” continued Fiona. “It has made a huge difference to the families in our community… we are so grateful to have gotten the benefit of a funded quality preschool for our children during a time in most of our lives when income was limited.”
Her 14 year-old son, Caleb, agrees.
“Overall Tūtū and Me was a great experience. It gave me lasting friendships and great memories.”
We at Partners in Development Foundation are thrilled that this group of keiki and their caregivers came together to impact their community, demonstrating the full cycle of the impact of our programs. We look forward to hearing more about their future successes!
Are you an alumni of one of our programs? Do you have any stories to share of how the program has helped you or you community? We want to hear about it! Contact our communications office by calling 808-595-5290 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.