By: Mindy Binderman via Saporta Report
This year has been difficult for everyone, especially our youngest children, their caregivers, and Georgia’s educators. And Thanksgiving, along with so many other holidays and milestone commemorations, looked a lot different in 2020.
One thing that this pandemic has taught me, however, is to never miss a chance for a celebration. And it is with much gratitude and pride that I share that GEEARS is celebrating its tenth year of service!
From our founding as a successor to the United Way’s Early Education Commission, GEEARS has advocated for high-quality early learning and healthy development for Georgia’s youngest children, from birth to five. This year alone, we successfully led the effort to stop budget cuts to Georgia’s Pre-K, secured extended Medicaid benefits for new mothers through coordinated action with state partners, and ensured more early care and learning advocates made their voices heard in the 2020 election.
As we look ahead while also honoring 10 Years of GEEARS, we plan to reflect on our accomplishments, share our plans for the future, and celebrate this milestone year with a series of events both virtual and, hopefully, in person.
In the meantime, I want to celebrate and thank those who have helped us make change for Georgia’s youngest children and their families. In this season of gratitude, I thank:
- Past and current Board members of GEEARS including our board chair and my friend and collaborator in this work, Stephanie Blank;
- Our brilliant and dedicated staff members who have supported each other and not missed a beat while working remotely since March; and
- Our funders, who have not only supported us financially, but also been stalwart partners and advisors.
As importantly, I celebrate:
- Each and every parent of a young child who has struggled to juggle the challenges of caregiving during a pandemic with their roles as a spouse, an employee or employer, a student, a jobseeker, or as a single adult;
- Those legislators and public officials at all levels of government who have supported investments in child care or Pre-K, and policies that advance family leave or address infant and toddler social and emotional health;
- Business, civic and religious leaders who have stepped up to be champions for early education;
- Our early education ambassadors who have helped deliver food and school supplies, enroll families in Pre-K and share vital information about community services;
- The early educators who have worked throughout the pandemic to lovingly care for our youngest children and the owners of child care programs who struggle daily to keep their doors open; and
- Our coalition members, summer reading club partners, and the other organizations throughout our State that work each day to improve outcomes for children birth to five.
You can help GEEARS officially kick off our 10th anniversary celebrations on #GivingTuesday, a global day of generosity taking place on December 1st, with GEEARS at a virtual film screening event. We will watch “Starting at Zero,” a documentary that brings together the voices of policymakers, educators, academics, business leaders, pediatricians, parents, and children to highlight the importance of investing in high-quality early education. This is a powerful film that will leave you inspired to keep working. (RSVP here.)
With the help of our partner organizations, your ongoing support will allow us to continue our advocacy efforts on behalf of Georgia’s babies, young children, and those who care for our kids.
GEEARS wishes all of you a happy holiday season of big joys, small celebrations, and good health. To many more decades of this important work!