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December 09, 2021

Meet Twins Gabriella* & Jade* and their Friends Paula & Mary Kate

Strengthening Families Throughout the Pandemic and Beyond

Headed by a single mother, the D family is a family of 5 children, including the youngest – twin girls and our Achievers Gabriella and Jade. Like all of our Achievers, Gabriella and Jade were selected to join us in K2 and we provided them with two different Friends – Paula and Mary Kate respectively, to ensure they get the individualized support and programming they each need to thrive.

When first selected, neither twin would speak to us recalls Mary Kate. She went on to say that during their first outing, she literally only knew she had the right twin because Jade instinctively grabbed her hand as they were heading into the office. Over time, the girls’ personalities began to show. According to Paula, both are very sassy and like to joke around and tease their professional mentors. She went on to say that they are both really creative – they enjoy making bracelets. Gabriella loves to draw and play with play dough and Jade loves playing Roblox. Both like to pretend to cook using the kitchen set in the Elementary lounge at the Friends-Boston facility. After 3 years with Paula and Mary Kate they have both come out of their shells and are able to express themselves more freely and engage in conversation with other staff including admin.

Prior to the pandemic, mom had a great routine and structure in place to support her children’s education and schooling and Gabriella and Jade were more or less on par academically. The pandemic disrupted mom’s schedule and the structure she worked hard to put into place. She also had to balance work as a single mom providing for her family of 6 and supporting at-home learning and her youngest, the twins, for whom the pandemic was impacting learning and emotional development in very different ways.

It had uncovered learning differences between Gabriella and Jade that had once been masked by in-person learning and became unmasked and amplified during the pandemic. The gap that widened for so many children like Gabriella and Jade, had widened even more so for Gabriella. Paula and May Kate had to thusly respond in vastly different ways based on the unique needs of each child. With Jade needing help from Mary Kate to stay on task and pay attention while in remote learning, while Gabriella needed Paula to morph into a tutor providing rigor and structure to support her remote learning.

Having Paula and Mary Kate there throughout gave mom a sense of relief and reprieve. She knew she had Mary Kate and Paula to not only support her youngest girls but to also help with basic needs like weekly grocery delivery, tips on how to support her other 3 children, and tools like noise canceling headphones and academic supplies for all 5 siblings to aid in at home learning was a huge relief for mom.

Today, the gaps are wider, and students have entered the classroom from many different places emotionally and academically. But Gabriella and Jade, who are now in the 4th grade and in a new school, have entered the classroom in place where they are supported emotionally and academically thanks to the hard work and dedication of Paula, Mary Kate, and their mom. Mom continues to work with Mary Kate and Paula to put structures back into place for the twins and all her children. Knowing that she has Paula and Mary Kate has given mom the sense of relief she needs as she works each day to support her family.

Gabriella and Jade still have another 8 years in their journey with us and mom knows now more than ever that our no matter what promise is just that, a commitment to be by her side and the side of her girls throughout their 12-year journey with us. And she knows, that we will do whatever is needed to be sure that Gabriella, Jade, and the whole family thrive.

This is just one story and we have 143 additional stories to share. To learn more about our efforts to close the achievement gap and our work to prepare our families for post pandemic recovery and success through our child-centered 2-Generation programming, we welcome you to contact me, Executive Director Yi-Chin Chen at yichin@friendsboston.org or Director of Development Stacy DellOrfano at stacy@friendsboston.org. We would be happy to host you for a visit, grab a coffee, or set up a call and learn from each other how we can work together to ensure ALL our Achievers thrive.

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