Cheryl Brown - families, literacies, community support

My best-bud Cheryl Brown was recently recognized for her work helping families in crisis. She was awarded the Daniel L. Hamoline Award for her contributions to greater understanding of mediation and domestic violence. Yay, Cheryl!

Photo credit: KâtÈ Braydon/Telegraph-Journal

You can read about it in Sanda Davis' newstory in the Telegraph-Journal, C3 (online here). Davis talks a little about our Quality Storytents & Bookwagon programs, as well as the knitting therapy group, and notes that in Cheryl's work "literacy and access to [family support] services have long been interconnected"(for example).

Davis also notes, "With the exception of 10 weeks in the summer, her work with Storytent and the knitting club is volunteer." Which maybe makes it more noble or something, but, you know, we'd just as soon get paid.

Anyway, here's the heart of the article:

Delivering the Storytent program led Brown along the path to becoming a counsellor as she found herself facilitating conversations with adults and children in domestic violence relationships and helping connect them to community resources.

"It really is about breaking through that barrier by being there and creating relationships; being present so that you become the resource person.

"If you have literacy issues, you have difficulty accessing all material," she said. ...[It's] not just about low literacy, it's about a general variety of skills that you may not feel comfortable with," Brown said.

It's all about going to where the help is needed, she said.

"We really are in the neighbourhood. You look out your window and there we are, on the grass. Or we're doing the Bookwagon and we're knocking on your door because you like to get books. Or we're in the community centre doing knitting.

"Right now, I'm talking with a family about whether they need mediation or someone to help them with a parenting plan for their children. It's just because I was sitting in somebody's living room in the neighbourhood."

Lots of people know Cheryl's Crescent Valley storytent work. But not so many know or remember the other things she's done "along the path to becoming a counsellor." For example, she's been an adult literacy tutor and small group facilitator, a coordinator and trainer, an author and researcher, and is a past-president of the Literacy Coalition of New Brunswick.

She's also worked with Family Resource Centres, serving as the board president of one, as well as creating and facilitating a breast-feeding support group and a parents-of-twins support group. (She's a mother of twins herself, whom she home-schooled for a time.) She's currently board president of Early Intervention, Inc. and retains close associations with a number of early childhood and family support specialists and organizations.

This background - almost two decades' work supporting adult learners, parents and families at multiple levels including delivery, management, research and policy creation - informs all of her current work with QLNB in the areas of community and family literacy. And that work, in turn, informs and is informed by her counseling work with children, adults and families in crisis.

She's a sunny, optimistic, happy-go-lucky seeming gal, but nothing she does is by accident. She works very hard at creating the conditions and relationships that allow her to be just "sitting in someone's livingroom in the neighbourhood" when a family needs help. Cheryl Brown is very smart and very dedicated.

She's also a bit of an introvert, and will be horrified by this post. But, like I say, lots of people don't realize her depth of experience (or her three university degrees). Occasionally some pink-cheeked assistant deputy minister will talk to her as if she was 'just' a field worker or parent or board member or maybe some crazy lady who knits... which makes me want to start slapping heads. Guess that's part of why I'm not supposed to talk to the press or politicians without a chaperon.

Still, no harm in me posting my thoughts. Right?

P.s. From the comments section of the T-J story:

Cheryl Brown is the most deserving person for this award. Congrats Cheryl, your work is appreciated and valued! - Tammy C, Saint John

Congrats, Cheryl! You are a beautiful person. You have done much for our family. You were the Light in a dark time. Thank you. Regards, - Grace Beukeveld (formerly Lutes)

Hey, Cheryl. Congrats from me, too.


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