When Nain Lopez drives by the West County First 5 Center, her daughters always point and say, “There’s our First 5.”
The Lopez family began taking First 5 Center classes seven years ago, even before the San Pablo site was open. At the time, Nain was new to the U.S., caring for her infant daughter Yenuen without family nearby and with few friends. Isolated and alone, and adjusting to her new life as a stay-at-home mother, Nain was experiencing postpartum depression.
She decided to take an infant massage class at the Center, and she’s been going ever since. She now attends with her four-year-old daughter Rebeca. Nain says the classes and families she met at the First 5 Center helped her recover from postpartum depression and became her lifeline.
“I had no family and I was home alone. I had always worked or gone to school, from the time I was 16 years old. But slowly, with the help of the classes I was taking, I began making friends. We started play dates, and I still see these families today,” says Nain. “They also are immigrants with no family here. We’re all from different countries, but we came together because of the First 5 Center. We formed our own community.”
At the Center, Nain learned about our Preschool Makes a Difference program and obtained a scholarship for her daughter to attend high-quality preschool when she returned to work, “As soon as I learned about PMD, I wanted to do it. If First 5 was involved, I knew it would be a good program for my daughter.”
Nain also participated for four years on the Community Advisory Council, a group of volunteers who help oversee the activities and programs offered at each First 5 Center. As a CAC member, Nain made important community contacts and learned valuable skills, such as meeting facilitation, which helped her land a job as a Program Manager at Catholic Charities of the East Bay.
Now when Nain sees parents with young children, she can’t help but approach them and ask, “You go to First 5 right?” If they’re not familiar with the Center, she hands them a current class schedule and talks about the benefits of the program for both parents and children.
“I tell parents ‘The First 5 Center will benefit your children and you. Your children will do better when they get to kindergarten and you will make friends there,’” she said. “First 5 is so important in my life. Like I tell my girls, once upon a time, First 5 lifted my life.”
Learn more about a First 5 Center near you.