Vibrant Vanessa! #EPU40


Tell me about your EPU story—how did you get here?

My previous employment was at the Marjaree Mason Center, a shelter-based domestic violence agency, as a Family Skills Specialist. I worked with the children residing in their emergency shelter and saw first hand the need and importance for early intervention in a child’s early development. Many of the children I worked with were clients or had been clients of EPU. I researched the program and was impressed with their family centered care approach to early childhood intervention. I applied when they had an opening and have been with EPU for five years now.

How long have you been affiliated with EPU?

I first started working in Play and Grow program as Development Assistant or “teacher” as the children called us. As teachers we worked in facilitating play groups to help the children, already receiving services at EPU, socialize with peers and build relationships.  Because all programs at EPU are family strength based, the Play and Grow program worked alongside the Early Childhood Specialists in promoting healthy development. Through their work I was inspired and awed at the amazing dedication and passion they had for early intervention. When a position opened up I applied, and in November I will be celebrating my third year as an Early Childhood Specialist!

Tell us about your family?

My family is a large family made up of my parents, step-parents, and siblings.  I have two younger sisters and three younger brothers.  My parents are originally from Mexico, but immigrated to United States when they were children. My step-father was born in LA but grew up in Fresno and my step-mother is from El Salvador. My siblings and I were all born in Fresno and have lived here in the Central Valley for years. We feel very much a part of Fresno.

What’s your favorite part about EPU?

My favorite part of EPU is the two groups of people I get to work with daily, the EPU staff and the families we serve.  My co-workers have been the best teachers and mentors I could have asked for. They are always willing to lend a hand and support each other. I love how even though they don’t work personally with my clients, they take their time to get to know them and offer a “Hello,” or smile. As a fairly new person to EPU, it has been so wonderful to see and be a part of the legacy that is Exceptional Parents Unlimited. I love working with the families we serve and being a part of their child’s development.  It’s truly a blessing to be able to share the small part of their child’s lives with them.  Even though are families graduate for our agency, they are still a part of EPU and its fun to see the progress each child has made.

What’s your favorite EPU memory?

When the children first come to EPU, it can be overwhelming for them. Some of the children we serve have been through traumatic experiences and it can sometimes it takes a while for them to feel comfortable with us and learn to trust us. My favorite EPU memory was the moment I saw when one of my students felt safe at EPU. I had been working with her for three months and she was nervous and anxious when I greeted her at the front door.  However, through our sessions I could see her open up and start enjoying coming to EPU. One day I greeted her at the door, and I was welcomed with a big smile, her hands reaching over a hug and a very loud “My teacher!”  That was my favorite moment because not only had my student felt comfortable to greet me, but her grandmother was overjoyed that her granddaughter was happy to be at EPU and had put two words together!

What has EPU taught you?

To smile everyday, offer a kind hello, and cherish the lovely memories we make here at EPU.