Love, Hope and Determination Brings Kids and Families to the Capitol

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Photo by Our Children, Our Future

It was almost 7 a.m. when I put on my black, pointed-toe dress shoes. My stomach hurt and my pits were already sweaty. I was leaving for the annual Our Children, Our Future (OCOF) Kids and Families Day at the Capitol in Charleston.

Being a brand new member of the OCOF organization, I hadn’t made heads or tails of what the day really was about.

It was going to be an awareness event, I was sure. Everyone with their booths, goodies for the folks passing by the tables, legislators eagerly listening to all the goals and concerns of everyone attending, a free boxed lunch, people smiling for photos, games for the kids, and tri-fold pamphlets for the rest of us. I’ve been to my fair share of these.

Because of OCOF, these kids had a platform to be heard.

But it wasn’t an awareness event. This was something different.

One of the OCOF members grabbed me and led me to something called a ‘student unity forum.’ High school students were there with prepared speeches on what changes they want to see in West Virginia.

After observing for several minutes, I pieced together the reason the students were there – because they had been invited by OCOF to voice their concerns. I heard their nervous voices and saw their shaking hands as they shared personal stories as backgrounds for discussions on mental health services, paying for a college education, the job market and education reform.

Photo by Our Children, Our Future
Photo by Our Children, Our Future

Because of OCOF, these kids had a platform to be heard.

This was part of what the day was all about.

I met a woman named Ruth. Ruth is the 60-something mother of twin four-year-old girls, Aubrie and Havannah. They’re from Webster County. I asked Ruth why something like today was so important. She was there to show support for her daughters’ preschool.

One of her daughters has a disability, and because of the preschool both of them have a better chance at a better future.

“Anything to start them learning young,” she said to me with a smile, all the while chasing her daughters through the rotunda.

This was part of what the day was all about.

I looked around at all these unfamiliar faces I now, in some capacity, will be working with. It was a talented, intellectual, kind and loving group of people, working for something better for West Virginia.

They were there to change people’s lives.

Something better for the kids, parents, teachers, students, the poor, the voiceless, the tired, the sick and the willing. They were there to change people’s lives. And they had no idea they were changing mine.

I’m not sure I’m cut out for it. We’ll have to wait and see, and I most certainly look forward to it.

These people with Our Children, Our Future love this state and all the people in it. They made me want to love it with them.

This is what the day was all about.

Hello, Tiffney.