Julie Esteves helped raise her five younger siblings in the Riverwest neighborhood. Now, she says, she raises the community’s children.
“What I learned at home, I can do here,” Esteves said. One of COA’s youth and family centers is located in Riverwest.
Esteves is the bilingual co-director of the Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters (HIPPY) program at the Children’s Outing Association (COA). HIPPY is a national school readiness program for children ages 3-5. It encourages parental and family involvement during children’s early education years and focuses on building strong family relationships.
She is proud of her accomplishments at COA and the benefits they have brought to the community.
In 17 years at COA she has witnessed many families grow closer together, particularly those facing personal difficulties. One that left a lasting impression on her involved a woman whose son has autism. The mother was uncertain about whether she could get the extra care her son required. COA helped her find an educational setting and the resources he needs to develop. Esteves saw the child win HIPPY’s “Story of the Year” award when he graduated from the program.
Esteves said she has grown as she helps families do the same. As a child she would not participate or talk in class, and she was still very shy before coming to work at COA. The agency has given her the confidence to work through her insecurities, she said.
A bookend in her office displays Esteves’ own motto for COA: “Every child and family in the community gets the same experience and pride I have gotten in being part of COA.”
“I have come this far,” she said. “This agency has been my stepping stone.”
COA’S HIPPY program provides extra support to prepare preschoolers for kindergarten. HIPPY (Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters) is a national program that encourages parental involvement and works to strengthen family relationships.
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This story is part of a special report focusing on eight agencies that provide services to neighborhood residents in a variety of communities. Students from Marquette’s Diederich College of Communication created the pieces under the supervision of Prof. Herbert Lowe and NNS Editor Sharon McGowan.