This story is the first in blog series by AmeriCorps VISTA Michelle Maxberry. As part of her year of full-time service at South Carolina First Steps, Michelle will be gathering and sharing stories of young children, families, and communities served by local First Steps nonprofits across the state. Photo by Amira Hulwe.
A few years ago, Namrata Dave moved to Orangeburg from Allendale in search of better economic opportunities and a stronger sense of community for herself and her son, Veer. There, she discovered the valuable resources provided by Orangeburg County First Steps.
Namrata joined their free home-visiting program called Parents as Teachers. The program provides families with a dedicated parent educator to help their children learn and develop. With the help of her parent educator, Sheree Porter, Namrata found valuable resources to support Veer's reading progress. Sheree provided books for Veer to read, educational materials for Namrata to use at home, and even a 44-piece bunny puzzle to enjoy with Veer.
Namrata says Veer has made significant progress in his preschool reading skills. He enthusiastically reads passages from his favorite books, reflecting his positive attitude. Namrata also noted that Veer has become more confident since engaging with Orangeburg County First Steps staff and activities. It's worth mentioning that English is not Veer's primary language, making his success even more impressive. Namrata expressed her gratitude for the Parents as Teachers program, which recognizes parents as a child’s first and most important teacher. It’s a philosophy that Namrata has fully embraced.
Veer will attend the Felton Laboratory School at South Carolina State University Center in the fall. Namrata is grateful for the tools she has received and feels more confident in her ability to support her son. She highly recommends Orangeburg County First Steps' services to other families who may benefit from them.