Anna Bowring: Grateful the Amherst Family Center will stay

  • Susan McGinn, the coordinator of the Amherst Family Center, leads a group in song during a recent session. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Friday, May 10, 2019

Just in time for Mothers’ Day: good news for families with young children!

I want to express my deep appreciation for my fellow parents of the Amherst Family Center (AFC) for speaking out, and for the department heads of UMass for responding with the commitment to fully fund the AFC, in its current location, through June of 2020.

On Friday, May 3, representatives from UMass joined parents and grandparents at the monthly AFC Parent Advisory Council meeting to hear families’ concerns about the future of the AFC, and to update and inform them that the university would continue to sponsor the AFC through the next fiscal year, while working with the Parent Advisory Council to find other sponsors to help carry the program further.

As I looked around the room, I saw that the parents and grandparents participating in the discussion represented well the diversity of the families that attend our weekday morning drop-in program. There were UMass students, staff and faculty, along with local community members like me, who spoke with passion about the value of maintaining this beautiful, dedicated space geared for our young children — where families from all over the world (speaking in Chinese, Spanish, Arabic, Portuguese, French, Sinhala), and those from our local communities as well, can go to make friends, learn new skills and access community resources.

Having this unique, safe, dynamic and nurturing space to bring my own daughter has been so good for both of us; it has enriched our lives immeasurably. I feel fortunate to live in an area where the well-being of young children and their families is recognized as being of vital importance to our society as a whole — and where that recognition can lead to such effective action and tangible support.

Anna Bowring

The writer is an Amherst resident and Amherst Family Center parent.