Meet Tiffony Robinson. She is beautiful, poised, very professional, and gracious. One would never imagine she was once a disadvantaged youth who stayed in trouble in middle school and was suspended from high school. Such character seems in stark contrast to the caring, disciplined, and highly successful young woman she is today. Obviously, something happened to cause such a drastic change in her life.
Something, indeed, did happen to Tiffony. A high school principal and a guidance counselor who cared stepped into her turbulent life to make a difference. They purposefully gave her an accountability structure that mentored her, counseled her, believed in her, and helped her dream and strive for something bigger. They gave her much needed emotional support while not letting her get away with anything. Because of their efforts, Tiffony graduated high school and entered Tennessee State University as an electrical engineering major.
During Tiffony’s sophomore year of college, she received a phone call that changed her direction in life even more. She learned her beloved high school counselor had died, and she immediately changed her major to education. She wanted to be able to impact others as this counselor had impacted her.
Today Tiffony works as a Family Service Coordinator in the Early Head Start Childcare Partnership for Mid-Cumberland Community Action Agency’s Head Start Program in Rutherford County, TN. In her role, she supports the families of children served by the agency in Rutherford and Wilson Counties. In addition to providing services through Head Start and MCCAA, Tiffony serves families by referring them to other community resources to assist with needs that affect the entire family unit. If a family needs assistance, Tiffony helps them find it and sees her job much like that of a social worker.
One of her most memorable cases came to her shortly after she started her position with MCCAA Head Start. A grandmother saw children playing on the playground behind her building and came into the office to see if anyone could help her with the two grandchildren she had just inherited unexpectedly. She did not have appropriate housing, beds, support system, or money to care for them. On top of this, she had health issues she needed to address as she navigated through this time of forced transition. While she had physical custody of her grandchildren, she did not yet have legal custody of them and could not qualify for government assistance. She desperately needed help to get through the process, and Head Start became the support system she needed through Tiffony.
Tiffony connected this grandmother with many resources to equip and empower her to care for her grandchildren. The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program through MCCAA helped her with energy bills. Community Helpers, a nonprofit agency in Rutherford County, gave her assistance with food and household items. A TennCare Advocate helped her with medical insurance. She enrolled the grandchildren in Head Start, where they quickly began thriving. The grandmother began attending the Head Start events, and she soon found a greatly needed physical and emotional support system to equip and empower her to raise her grandchildren
Now three years later, the grandchildren have graduated from the Head Start Program, but the grandmother still keeps in touch with Tiffony. They have all acclimated well from personal tragedy but recognize the important role Head Start, Tiffony, and the EHS-CCP team have played in the transition. Tiffony made a real difference in someone’s life, as others had made in hers.