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United Way Program Turns to MCC

Sara Spatz, director of the Parent-Child Home Program run by the United Way of Central Jersey, had a problem. The State of New Jersey had awarded a grant to hire 12 Americorps members to work with Middlesex County families. They would act as a role model for parents and interact with the children, age 16 months to 3 years old.

Many of the families spoke only Spanish.

"We had a difficult time recruiting because the Americorps members had to be bilingual," Ms. Spatz said.

So she turned to MCC President Joann La Perla-Morales, who is a board member of the United Way.

Charlotte Quigley, manager of career services, posted notices on the student portal, CampusCruiser. Four students have applied; two are now working and two are being considered.

The two currently in the program are Lia Molina, left, and Tania Mora. They each work with 10 families, visiting twice a week for a half-hour, becoming a big sister to the kids and a role model for the parents.

"I love it, every day is different," says Ms. Molina. "We model good parenting practices for the adults and bring toys and games to the kids and play with them. It's rewarding and fun."

Ms. Mora says she sees growth and development in the children.

"I see every day how they are learning – counting, identifying colors and shapes, and how their language skills increase with each visit. It's wonderful to see."

Ms. Spatz was very pleased the College stepped up to assist.

"I'm very grateful," she said. "The College has been a big help. The majority of the responses have come from MCC."