Goodman Community Center | #BeTheGoodMSN: Plymouth UCC is fostering…

#BeTheGoodMSN: Plymouth UCC is fostering community

Two years ago, the relationship between Plymouth UCC and the Goodman Center blossomed into something pretty great for our kiddos and our community.

October 10, 2022 |
Members of Plymouth UCC pose with Goodman CEO Letesha Nelson and members of the Goodman early childhood education staff in a preschool classrooms.
This summer, members of the Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ on Atwood Avenue visited our preschool classrooms and learned a little bit about the impact their support is having on our community.

When we were thinking about introducing a Be the Good questionnaire to collect stories of goodness and generosity happening in our community, Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ (Plymouth UCC) came to mind immediately. You see, Plymouth UCC and the Goodman Center have been neighbors since the center’s beginning (back when we were Atwood Community Center), and the church has been a friend and supporter of our community center since that time.

Two years ago, they took that support to the next level, pooling money from a grant with donations from the church and its members into a fund to support our early childhood education program.

Members of the congregation worked together to answer these questions. (Some of the answers were edited for length.)

Thank you to Plymouth UCC for being an example of good in our community!

Tell us a little bit about Plymouth’s support of Goodman’s early childhood education program.

Plymouth Church Visits Goodman
Members of Plymouth UCC get the lowdown on kinetic sand from kids in our 3-year-old classroom.

In 2020, Plymouth became eligible to submit a grant application via the Ecumenical Housing Corporation’s Fund for Faith Communities (managed by the Madison Community Foundation) with one of the intended outcomes being the strengthening of communities. As a congregation that prioritizes focusing on social justice concerns, we specifically were looking for an organization we could partner with that embraced the importance of equity, diversity and inclusion in their programming. And, we wanted not just to help out financially, but also to establish a partnership whereby we could help to increase our members’ awareness of ongoing needs of the participants, elevate community awareness of these needs, and encourage volunteerism to help meet those needs. It was natural to choose Goodman as the recipient of our $16,000 donation.

As our connection with Goodman grew, we learned of other ways we could help impact early childhood families so some of our Plymouth folks helped out with family fun night, organizing a classroom closet, assembling and donating 200+ Halloween goody bags and packing weekend bags of food for families. In the near future, Plymouth will begin to raise funds for the purchasing of social emotional learning materials and self-regulation tools which will be available for families to use in their homes.

“Our whole community has an essential role in the positive growth and development of our young people, and we know what a crucial role early childhood education plays in this.”

Why did you decide to support this program?

Rather than writing a grant for a need that Plymouth alone determined was important to Goodman, we had a meeting with Goodman staff to collaboratively decide on a focus that would help fill an unmet need that our church could support, and which would help to leave a positive footprint in the community. We learned that by providing financial support for some of the underfunded aspects of the early childhood education programming, Plymouth would be able to support Goodman’s important emphasis on social emotional learning (SEL) and skill development. We found out that this funding would be used to send teachers to Conscious Discipline curriculum trainings, and to help purchase materials for creating classroom safe places where students could use self-regulation tools to manage emotions.

It is clear to us that the SEL emphasis and the other components of Goodman’s preschool and 4K programming enhance students’ capacity to become well-adjusted and secure humans who can work things out, minimize conflict and stress, and improve relationships – helping to build a stronger, safer and more inclusive community for us all.

“This is our home and we want what’s best for the families who live here.”

Why is early childhood education important to the Plymouth congregation?

It is very important to members of Plymouth UCC that we, as a church community – and society as a whole – care for and prioritize the needs of children. Our whole community has an essential role in the positive growth and development of our young people, and we know what a crucial role early childhood education plays in this. We feel a calling to take care of our young and to help equip them with the tools, skills and experiences necessary to strengthen their present and future lives. Hopefully, this strong foundation will also then contribute to our world becoming more safe and peaceable.

We are also keenly aware that the skills children learn in an educational environment are then taken into their family lives and out into the world with them. That, if they can be equipped with the necessary resources, we will all benefit. This will only serve to strengthen the very community where Plymouth UCC lives.

Why is supporting our community important to Plymouth?

Plymouth UCC has been deeply imbedded in the Atwood area for more than 100 years, and as a supportive neighbor of this eastside community, we are committed to helping those around us. We see our faith as not just something that exists within the walls of our building but also is actively lived out within our daily lives in this community. We feel that we are led to help those who are most vulnerable, including children, and that when we take our light out into the world through our actions, we are living out our faith.

Many of our Plymouth members reside on the Eastside, are students at the local schools, or are employed nearby. This is our home and we want what’s best for the families who live here. It is important that all children and adults be offered the opportunities they need to thrive in their lives, and that barriers that may get in the way of this happening be eliminated. We see Plymouth’s support of the early childhood programming at Goodman as one way to work towards this. In addition to helping individuals, this also serves to benefit our community as a whole.

Goodman Center Preschool & 4K Program

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