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Blog #2: Mom and my work

I am thinking today about when I went to the hospital to get my tonsils out at the age of four, and it seems like the next memory that I had was waking up on my first day of school at PS 133. I can clearly see the gates of the school and feeling my mother’s hand holding mine. She was a kindergarten teacher in NYC, and the very first time I played guitar in public was in her classroom over the summer. She was one of the earliest teachers to participate in the Head Start program in 1965, and she insisted that I come to her classroom to play for the children. Children of all races and economic status. Two things resulted from those trips—a love of teaching and the practice of giving back to the community. My mom worked in that Head Start classroom after an entire year of teaching. There was no money (or very, very little), just the satisfaction of helping kids who needed a “head-start.” In high school, she encouraged me to take my folk music group to play for the patients at Creedmoor Psychiatric Hospital in Queens. Once again, her encouragement led to a love of working with neuro-diverse individuals. I remember very clearly the sights and sounds of that visit, and while a little scary for a young person, I was not discouraged.  It was, in fact, the catalyst for the passion I feel today about advocating for those in need or who do not have a voice.   Thanks, mom—you passed away 43 years ago this summer, but you are still alive in the work that I do. And your grandchildren have taken up the torch!!