NORTHWEST INDIANA – The back-to-school season can be just as overwhelming for parents as it is for children, from enrolling children for the school year to gathering supplies and workbooks and buying new clothes. But Rachel Lewis, a Merrillville resident and mother of three, said finding the right program for her children was simple.
Lewis said she found Geminus’s Head Start program, which is free to qualifying families, beneficial to her work schedule and gave more potential for her children's education down the line. Enrolling her children in Head Start provided her children an affordable, safe and trustworthy place to go.
During the late 1990s and early 2000s, Lewis worked at Methodist Hospital Northlake. Due to inconsistent scheduling and long work hours, it was difficult for her to be at home to teach her children, who were not old enough to be enrolled in kindergarten at the time.
"At that time, I welcomed the added assistance with my children's early learning and social skills development," said Lewis. "Transportation was also offered, which for a working mom, provided much-needed additional help."
Lewis wanted to find a proper learning environment, aside from her office space, to allow her children to feel like children. When reminded of Geminus Head Start by her mother, Lewis didn't hesitate the opportunity to enroll her children.
"It was like a rite of passage for young children; once toilet trained, the next step was going to school," said Lewis. "Everyone wanted to send their children to Geminus Head Start."
Ultimately, she was eligible and able to get two of her three children enrolled in Geminus Head Start.
"The biggest challenge for me was letting go and allowing my children the opportunity for someone to help mold their minds outside of family," said Lewis. "I trusted the program to provide a safe and caring environment."
During the program, the children had a great experience learning more, interacting with other children their age and becoming prepared for their next steps in life.
"The dedication the educators and staff put into the children is incredible," said Lewis. "It made me more appreciative, as a parent, of the role of educators and their commitment to developing young minds. It was a much-needed help."
Looking back over the years, Lewis said she is grateful for her decision to become a Head Start parent. She feels the program encouraged reading and wanting to learn more, which her children continue to show. Whenever someone asks which program would suit their kids, she always suggests Head Start.
In 1965, Head Start started its' mission to provide care and education access for children in low-income and at-need communities. Since 1997, Geminus, a member of Regional Care Group, offered early childhood education and assistance during the back-to-school season for Lake and Porter County families. This year, it will celebrate its 25th anniversary.
"I always wanted to give my children every opportunity to further their education, said Lewis. "I feel Geminus Head Start's program gave parents like me a chance to give our children a passion for learning something they would take with them on their educational journey."
Geminus Corporation Geminus promotes health, well-being and education for all children in Northwest Indiana. To learn more about Geminus Head Start and other programs, please visit Geminus.care. If you or anyone you know needs assistance, please get in touch with Geminus at 219-757-1800.
About Geminus Corporation
Geminus Corporation, a member of the Regional Care Group, partners with community-based health care providers, social service organizations, and early childhood education programs to help increase Hoosiers' access to high-quality care. As Northern Indiana’s largest nonprofit administrative service organization, Geminus also provides support services for health care nonprofits and human service organizations. For more information, visit Geminus.care.