Last year (FY23) we increased community-driven programming in our beautiful therapeutic garden and green space. Regular events held with community partners included the Niñitos de la Naturaleza (“Little Nature Kids”) outdoor learning series with the Museum of Life and Science and Cuentos (“Stories”) family engagement and literacy series with partners including Durham Public Library and Book Harvest.

Mary Jones, El Futuro’s Manager of Client Care and Engagement, had the opportunity to hear back from a parent after our February Cuentos event. “At the end of the event, a mom approached me to thank me for the event. She shared that she had been struggling with mental health. She found herself unmotivated to do anything, was feeling like life was not worth it any more after a painful divorce, and was struggling financially. She found herself overwhelmed having to work, find childcare, and care for her three young children alone.

She said that she made an effort to come yesterday because she thought it was important for her and the children to have an opportunity to be outside together, to come to read, and they love to play in the creek! She said: “My children are the ones who make me get up each morning. If it wasn’t for them, who knows where I would be? It has been very hard, but I am still fighting, for them!” I looked at her toddler and asked him: “Quien ama a mamá? Quien ama a mamá?” (“Who loves mama?”) and he smiled and started hugging her, giving her kisses.

I was so grateful that she was able to come and find some comfort, a sense of community for herself and her children. I saw her talking for a while with another mom who also had a young child. I think about how precious those opportunities are to connect with others who may understand your struggle. Those days a parent may consider it a “small win”, when you feel like you did something “good” for your children, such as taking them to a book reading. It is those days when you find an opportunity to share your story, and feel understood, that make “las penas pesen menos” (“the sorrows weigh less”). I find myself thinking about how meaningful these events are, and how they could be the “one thing” that a parent needs so they go to bed that night feeling a little better.”

Note: photos do not represent the family whose story is told.