By Fawn Pattison
This week we’re bringing you an interview with one of our own team members. La-Mine Perkins is a full-time MSW student, full-time mom, and the Community Engagement Specialist at NC Child. Whether she is collecting stories from the community, leading NC Child’s Parent Advisory Council and Youth Advocacy Council (pictured above), or serving on Wake County’s Complete Census Count Committee, she is always making sure that families affected by public policy can make their voices heard.
NCC: How do you value every child in your work?
LP: I try to value every child by supporting them and their parents in telling their own truths.
NCC: How did you first become an advocate for children?
LP: I’ve probably always seen myself as an advocate for children and families in some capacity, whether it is advocating for myself as a young person that was affected by a lot of these systems, or advocating for my children as a parent. And then I’ve always worked in the non-profit sector, on issues related to children and families. So it’s always kind of crossed over every aspect of my life.
NCC: Was that the career that you planned for yourself?
LP: It actually was not, I went to school and studied to be a court reporter. And while I was in school, I took a part-time job at a foster care agency in New York City. And one thing led to another. My part-time role went to full-time. And I fell in love with that work, and found my passion for helping children and families, and have never left.
NCC: And then you decided to go back to school again to earn your Bachelor’s in Social Work?
LP: Yes, I feel like I never stopped going to school to be quite honest. I’m a professional student at this point. I had been going to school part-time, taking a class or two here or there in the evenings. It was around 2015, when my youngest child was three. I decided that I really just wanted to go full-time, and go all in and get it done.
At that point I resigned from my job, which was very scary, especially while having 4 kids still at home. And then I realized that I actually could do a little bit more. So I came to NC Child, and I started doing a little bit of part-time work here. After getting my BSW I joined the staff full-time, and now I’m back in school again pursuing my MSW at NC State.
NCC: Who inspires you to do all this?
LP: I pull my inspiration from lots of different people. I definitely pull inspiration from kids. And not just my children, but also from other children. I spent time in foster care. And I’m still connected with some of my young ladies I grew up with. We’re all adults now, but I look at how resilient they are, and I look at what they what they’re doing with their lives. And I pull inspiration from them.
NCC: What do you hope will change for children as a result of your work?
LP: My hope is not just what will change for children, it’s really what will change for families and for parents. I see so many parents doing an amazing job, despite how little support there is for them. Oftentimes we look at parents and make judgments about them, about who they are. I hope that as a result of my work, families will have the support that they need, to really be able to be the parents that they want to be.
NCC: What do you do to stay optimistic and to keep working for this kind of positive change?
LP: Spending time with my family always fills my cup and reminds me of why I do what I do. But I also think that that just spending time around young people in general inspires me, because they are not as cynical as we are as adults. They are hopeful. They are optimistic, and they do feel like they can change the world. And that right there, that gives me hope.
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