KenCrest’s Early Learning Centers have brought more than just educational support to the Galarza and Mattox family.
By Sydney Kerelo
At three years old, April Mattox and her family walked into KenCrest’s Lehigh Early Learning Center (ELC) with hopes of helping her learn to talk. But, what her family didn’t realize was how much of an impact KenCrest would have on them.
Not only did April Mattox attend the KenCrest Center, but her older sister, Isel Galarza, now works as a recruiter at KenCrest. She even sent her oldest son to the exact Center April attended, while her youngest son will attend either the Adams or Northeast Center when he’s old enough.
“KenCrest has turned into my family,” says Galarza. “They’ve been in my life for so long that it made sense to send my children there. When my son first started attending KenCrest, I was happy because there were people I knew from when April attended. Miss Lenore was still the program coordinator at the time; Carmen was there, who worked at the front desk, and she’s been there for 20-plus years. It was comforting to see them.”
That sense of comfort and familial connection encouraged Isel to send her children to KenCrest’s Early Learning Centers. It’s also the reason she wanted to work for the organization.
According to Galarza, an old coworker at Bayada Home Health Care saw the KenCrest job opening and encouraged her to apply. She didn’t know Galarza’s connection to KenCrest, just that her son attended the ELC.
When Galarza accepted the recruitment position, she was ecstatic, and she immediately called the Lehigh Center off her new KenCrest phone.
“I remember I called over there and talked to Carmen, and she was like, ‘you’re calling me off of a KenCrest phone; why are you calling me off of a KenCrest phone?’” laughs Galarza. “So before I went to pick up my son from my mom’s, I stopped over there and was like, “I work here now!’”
The Lehigh Early Learning Center has become more than just a school for the two sisters. For Galarza, they are her coworkers and family; they are the people who cared for her son and who’ve helped her sister overcome her developmental delays.
“She wasn’t talking at three, and the doctors told my family she had a learning disability. It was primarily her speech, reading ability, and her speaking. You can throw numbers at her, and she’ll know what to do, but reading and writing that’s not her forte,” says Galarza. “My mom wanted to figure out what was going on and how we could help her, so she asked around and learned about KenCrest. April was soon enrolled, and as time went on, she began making progress. By the time she transitioned out, she was talking and becoming more involved.”
Mattox received support during her time at the ELC and through an outside, Early Intervention program called COMHAR—at the time, KenCrest’s Early Intervention program had not yet taken off. COMHAR and KenCrest’s ELC program partnered to create the best course of action for Mattox.
Mattox would practice her colors, shapes, and speech during the day at the Early Learning Center while also getting additional support at home.
“I remember everything they did to help April,” says Galarza. “So for me, to come to KenCrest and to have that same impact on other families and hire the teachers and staff that can make that change in someone’s life is amazing.”
Mattox transitioned out of KenCrest’s program and has since graduated from Moore College of Art and Design, pursuing a career in graphic design. Galarza’s oldest son has also graduated from the program and is attending primary school while her youngest son prepares to transition into the program.
“KenCrest will continue to educate my kiddies before they need to go to school,” says Galarza.
“And I will continue to help the organization find employees that will impact the people we support lives.”
Learn more about KenCrest’s Early Learning Center’s by clicking the link below!