In 2017, PEPS reorganized its staffing structure and created three Community Connector positions. For the past two years, these three Connectors have developed critical relationships with the communities in our service area. Their work involves identifying service gaps and barriers to parent-support services and determining ways that PEPS can help close the gaps and remove those barriers. The Connectors accomplish this in a variety of ways; through working with local coalitions and work groups; having conversations with parents; and building partnerships with agencies that serve local communities that PEPS has not traditionally served. This month, we follow one of our Community Connectors during a weekday to get a glimpse of her life and work…..
Hi! My name is Polly Jirkovsky Gual and I am the Community Connector for the Southern region, encompassing Central, South, and West Seattle, as well as South King County.
One of the things I love about my job as a Community Connector is that there is no such thing as a “typical day”. I might be working at home, attending staff meetings at our office in Wallingford, having a conversation with a community organization, or leading a Group Leader training in any of the neighborhoods in my region. That said, here is a slice of life from one of my days.
6:30am The alarm goes off and I get up, along with my husband Chris and our 9-year-old son, Brixton. We start the morning bustle of showers and breakfast.
7am My 12-year-old daughter Unity, who is in middle school and has a later start time, gets up. While Chris and Brixton get ready to walk to school, I pull out my Surface and check my work email. All the PEPS group leaders in my region send me weekly reports with brief descriptions of how their groups are going. I look over the reports to see what topics are being covered, what resources are being shared, and if the leaders have any questions.
8:10am I walk Unity to the bus stop and then meet up with my neighbor to walk the dogs together.
8:45am I’m back at my kitchen table getting ready to really start my work for the day. I spend the morning finalizing plans for a midwives conference I’m tabling later in the week, emailing with potential group leaders about upcoming groups and trainings, and posting about a few groups on various Facebook parenting groups. I also look over the PEPS leader binder and my notes for the group I’m leading later today.
10:30am After a quick stop at the discount grocery story to grab some snacks, I load up my materials into my trusty minivan and get on the road. At this time of day, it takes me about half an hour to drive from my house to the Valley Medical Children’s Therapy Building in Renton. I like to get to the site 30 minutes before my group starts to set up the room and in case parents show up early.
11:30am The group begins! This community partner group is a site-based Newborn Group and has a unique structure. Half of the meetings use the traditional PEPS format, and half of the meetings have a visiting guest speaker from Valley Medical staff. Today, one of the physical therapists is visiting the group to talk about play and motor skills. Leading groups is still one of my favorite things to do. I love the sweet babies and seeing the connections and wisdom shared between new parents.
1:30pm I bundle my supplies back into the car and snack on a protein bar as I start the drive home.
2pm I’m back at my house. I throw the blanket in the washing machine and load the dishwasher before sitting down to my computer again. The Renton Road Map is part of King County’s Best Starts for Kids initiative and is a coalition focused on reducing educational disparities in South King County. A new report on education and access in South King County has been released and I read the report while eating lunch, focusing on the findings about lack of affordable quality early childhood education. I make some notes of other organizations that are working on this so I can reach out and connect with them later to hear more about their work and see if there are any ways we can work together. I respond to some emails and chat on Skype with Jennie and Maria, the other Community Connectors, about a group spreadsheet that we’re editing together.
3:45pm The dog and I set out to walk to Brixton’s school and pick him up from the afterschool program. By the time we get home, Unity will have arrived from the bus. After they clean out their lunchboxes and do some homework, they get 30 minutes each of screen time. While they’re having their screen time, I try to finish up a few more emails.
6:30pm Chris comes home from work and makes dinner. We hang out in the kitchen, helping with homework and catching up.
9pm The kids are starting to get ready for bed. Chris and I both take a few minutes to check in on our work computers and finish up a few more things. Then we put them away and hang out and read together.
Even though my day tomorrow will be completely different, I look forward to continuing my work to support new families.