Churches, temples, mosques — these types of institutions are often considered the backbone of a community. And while religious leaders typically use their time with their congregations to depart teachings from their faith, many also see the power in reaching their congregations with education around positive parenting practices.
This is why Elder Leon Garrett joined up with Best Start three years ago. A leader in the New Christ Memorial Church, and executive director of the Valley’s chapter of the NAACP, Garrett was concerned about the young mothers in the community. “I saw Best Start’s potential to improve the quality of life for young mothers and fathers for future generations,” said Garrett. A member of the Best Start Northeast Valley Guidance Body since its inception in 2010, he regularly makes announcements to his congregation of more than 300 about what is happening with Best Start Partnership.
Garret is one of three church representatives who consistently attend meetings of the Best Start Northeast Valley partnership and share what they learn with their congregation. Pastor Arthur Broadous, a leader in the historic Calvary Baptist Church believes that community involvement is critical to the improvement of children’s well-being, and encourages his church peers to get involved. “Best Start is headed in the right direction by involving parents and residents in this effort,” said Broadous.
“Now when young parents come to me for guidance on parenting, I have more knowledge to share,” said Reverend Dennis Ware Senior of New Zion Christian Fellowship. Ware is also a long time Guidance Body member for the partnership, “I feel better versed because of what I have learned through Best Start.”
And while all three pastors see themselves as liaisons between First 5 LA and the broader community, they have also picked up skills along the way. “There is always something new to learn at the meetings,” said Garrett, “I think my favorite was the Partnership member who shared about child development and children’s nutrition from a pediatrician’s perspective — just to have that knowledge is empowering.”