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Monique Mills Community Schools Story

Albuquerque Parent Blog Post – Monique Mills

 What’s it like to be a parent in an Albuquerque community school? We’re honored to share the story of Monique Mills, a parent who discovered the power of community schools at a major point of transition for herself and her family. A supportive environment at her children’s school and assistance from the resource coordinator helped her through a challenging time. Now, she is greatly involved Manzano Mesa Elementary’s Homework Diners, and has become a proud community school leader and advocate. Her story reflects the best of what Albuquerque’s community schools have to offer. Come learn more at the Community School National Forum in Albuquerque from April 6th-8th. Register here.

My name is Monique and I would like to share with you my community school story.

About a year ago I went through a pretty tough domestic situation. My eight year relationship ended badly and I found myself on the streets with my two children, they were in school, and I was enrolled in college and working part time. I have no family here and I felt lost. After about a week of jumping from motel to motel I was running out of time and funds. If I didn't figure something out soon I would have had to take the kids out of school and go to a home for women and children. Then I remembered that I already had someone to turn to.

For the past 4 years I have been involved with Manzano Mesa’s Homework Diner and had become close with their community school coordinator. I remembered what I learned at the Coalition for Community Schools in Cincinnati -- community schools care about the children not just from 9-3 but 24-7. So I made a leap and went to see her.

She was amazing and very comforting. She didn't judge or even ask too many personal questions. She knew right away what needed to be done. Through the community school organization, she was able to pull together funds to allow me and my two children to stay at an extended stay hotel for 2 weeks and then helped me get into an apartment within the same school district so that my children didn't have to change schools. The school also sent me home with clothes, gift cards for shoes, backpacks full of food and signed me up for the food pantry. They put me in touch with a couple of churches that actually came to my apartment and prayed with me, gave me essentials for the house and helped me furnish my apartment.

The community school coordinator actually lent me things from her own home which was extremely touching. She entered me into a drawing for two free beds which I actually won and no longer had to sleep on the floor. The Church she connected me to gave Christmas presents to my children for free so they didn't have to feel the sting of the holiday season.

Manzano Mesa protected my children while I was able to get back on my feet, graduate and get a job. The school gave my children free lunches, flu shots, dental care and emotional support. I am still brought to tears by the amount of support we received! They were discreet and courteous and I never once felt like my situation was known by anyone else within the school and my children experienced a smooth transition to our new situation.

It is almost a year later exactly now and I am proud to say that I have a full time job and a new apartment. I am no longer reliant on the school for assistance. I know however that they are still there and willing to help and I always keep that in mind. I honestly don't know where I'd be right now if it weren't for my community school.

Now I have a clear future goal for myself and my children. I would love to try to become a Community School Coordinator myself, and eventually save money to buy land in Tijeras. I would love to open a summer sleep away camp and give back to the community. Thank you doesn't even begin to cover how thankful I really am. This experience has changed my life and I am forever grateful.

Once again my name is Monique and this is my community school story.

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