By: Melanie Roper (Estimated reading time: 3 minutes)
Dear PEPS Community,
I am excited to introduce myself — my name is Melanie Roper and I am the new Program Director at PEPS!
Professionally, I have worn many hats: teacher, social worker, mental health consultant, legislative advocate, and early learning leader. For the past 10 years, I supported the Prenatal-5 division at Neighborhood House, where we provided classrooms and parent support to families in over 20 different language and cultural groups, connecting them with amazing teachers and home visitors who speak their home language. Through this work, I was able to bear witness to the amazing parenting journeys of so many people and learned an incredible amount from parents and staff about the many beautiful ways people across the globe care for children and each other. I am passionate about supporting people in connecting with their cultural roots, exploring intersectional identities, and elevating a diversity of parenting styles.
This kind of parent support is also personal. Having moved to the US from the Philippines as a young child, I watched my mom navigate a new language, culture, and racial landscape far away from her home (and in snow, no less). She did this all while raising three rambunctious, multiracial kids in a community that had never seen a family like ours. I know it was lonely for her at times. Thankfully, she connected with two other parents who became her close friends and confidants.
Arriving at PEPS feels natural for me since I have felt the direct impact of parent peer-support in my own life. Though I’d worked with parents for years, my transition into parenthood was bumpy, with doubt and serious anxiety all jumbled together alongside the joy and the beauty — some very real-life “highs and lows,” you could say. Thankfully, I discovered I had options to help me through this transition. Through PEPS, I participated in Newborn and Second Time Around PEPS Groups located in my neighborhood. It was wonderful to meet up with parents who lived nearby for walks or trips to the park. Through Families of Color Seattle (FOCS), I joined a Newborn Group that also met the needs of my multiracial, multicultural family and helped me explore our intersectional identities. All three groups have been a lifeline.
It has been a gift and a relief to see many of my experiences reflected in the faces of my peers, to know through meetings and book clubs, texts and WhatsApp messages, on Zoom, and on walks along the water, I am not alone in this parenting journey. I am so grateful for the people who reached out to my mother all those years ago because their kindness impacted me. And I am so grateful for my PEPS and FOCS communities because they positively impacted my wellbeing and thus the wellbeing of my children.
I was drawn to this role at PEPS because of the organization’s commitment to operating with a racial equity lens in all aspects of the work. I appreciate how PEPS has honestly acknowledged the ways in which the organization has not always served all communities well, and the commitment to better serve families and address barriers to parent support and wellness. I know there is so much work to do. I value learning and hope to grow alongside this community for years to come. Please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org — I’d love to hear your thoughts on PEPS programs, how they have impacted you, and how we can continue to support our community in new and different ways going forward.
All the best,