I would always fight for my children no matter what.

My children remember me telling them when they started school that I would always fight for them no matter what. My son, who struggled, saw this firsthand when I showed up again and again to make certain he had what he needed to grow and thrive.

I knew the power of my voice, but I also recognized that not everyone listens.

It was there, at my child’s school, that I saw a flyer for COFI parent leadership training. With COFI, I immediately felt heard and supported and gained the skills that reinforced the strength of my voice and determination.

POWER-PAC IL mothers wearing matching blue shirts at a tax relief rally

In the ten years since I started at COFI, I’ve become involved in every policy issue of COFI/POWER-PAC IL. I’m also now a grandmother. So much is at stake, especially now, three years into the pandemic, where our families – especially those in Black and Brown communities – have experienced so much loss, trauma, and pain. As parent leaders, we see how this impacts our children and families and so, this year, we are focusing on mental health and trauma.

At our meetings, we were hearing stories.  We were supporting one another. But we wanted a broader sense of what was happening to children and families, so we developed a survey and asked 1,000 other families about their experiences accessing mental health services and asking what families need for well-being and healing. We listened to other parents – at the bus stop, community events, and with families and friends. We hosted community conversations in Aurora, Elgin, and Evanston that engaged another 250 people.  Now, we are developing our solutions, and soon, we will be sharing what we have learned and advocating for needed changes!