Say Hi to Linda!
Linda King has recently joined the Community Impact Department and the Early Learning Multnomah Hub team at United Way of the Columbia-Willamette. She serves as the Director of Housing, championing the growing housing insecurity crisis across Oregon alongside a dedicated team, peers, and partners. When coming across Linda, one can be sure to be met with heart, strong held advocacy, and racial and community equity at the forefront.
What’s one experience from childhood that helped make you who you are today?
My earliest childhood memories outside of home are those of being in a school setting of some sort. My family was deeply rooted in community activism, and education. From the age of three, I was always in some form of an educational setting, seven days a week, counting Sunday School, and “Good Will” on Saturdays. I loved Good Will because it wasn’t as rigid as Sunday School and taught lessons about citizenship. My first memories of socializing with other children were in my Good Will classes. Those classes rolled into Sunday School because they were a little religious based, and from Sunday School my learning rolled into regular school, because my 1st grade teacher attend our church. These experiences created a sense of community that allowed me to fully enjoy, express, and explore my childhood. The support of that network provided what I now recognize as being the perfect example of wraparound services.
From Pre-K through High School, my world included people, in various roles that became integral parts of my extended family and community, and everything seemed interconnected. This network provided me with access to opportunities that expanded my world beyond my home, and what ever went on inside of it. It provided safety, security, outlets, activities, experiences, and relationships that helped prepare me for the world outside of my community. The greatest focus that every member of this network had was on EDUCATION! I never met with a grownup in this network that didn’t first ask about my family, and second, about how I was doing in school. From early on, school, and education was constantly reinforced by parents, teachers, and even the corner store clerk who reported by behavior, good, and bad back to another adult that knew me. I was blessed to have this foundation of early learning that taught me what the true meaning of community is, and the enrichment it provided.
What I want for every child in our region is to have similar early learning experiences. I want every child to be made to feel as important, and as cared for by their community as I did. Early learning provides opportunities that foster the sense of community that many don’t experience in their neighborhoods, and in some cases, in their homes. It provides opportunities for children to explore, and discover interests, and ideas they might not get to experience at home. It models the idea of wrapping eyes, ears, hands, and hearts around children so they feel safe, secure, confident, and cared for. That sprit of community I had as a child is why I do the work I do. Seeds were planted at a very early age that taught me about the importance of caring for others which is why it’s important that I advocate to ensure that everyone has a home base to build a community from!
We know housing stability and early education success are deeply intertwined. ELM is fortunate to have Linda, someone who deeply understands these relationships serving on our team and community!