First Responders First//

“Knowing That When I’m at Work, They’re Safe, Creates a Relief”

How Bright Horizons’ #FirstRespondersFirst child care hub is helping medical tech Sharika Robinson support her family — and her community.

As a single mother of two boys, school was on my mind more than anything when coronavirus started affecting everything because I knew I’d have no child care. I work at Harborview University of Washington as a medical assistant/medical tech. I cannot support my family or my community to the best of my ability if there is no child care. 

When they closed the schools I had to take time off. We don’t have family close by, and it was uncomfortable trying to find other people to help watch my children. Being that one of my children has asthma, just exposing him to so many other people and different locations isn’t feasible. You don’t want to just drop the kids off anywhere. It was extremely hard for me and hard for the kids to understand what was going on.

They ask, “Why does everyone wear masks?” And, “Is everyone sick?” So we talk about COVID-19, the virus, the symptoms, and why everyone is wearing the masks. We talk about how important it is to practice hand hygiene and ways to prevent getting the virus. Things are definitely going to change, and we don’t know if it’s going to be good or bad, but we are having those conversations every day. 

I was off for more than a week when I heard through the University of Washington about Bright Horizons. I thought, “This could work. I would be able to work again.” It was amazing that there are individuals taking time away from their own family during this unseen time and helping first responders so they can care for patients. 

Since the kids have been going to the center, I can sleep at night. Just knowing that when I’m at work, they’re in a safe environment and having fun — it creates a relief for me. I feel so much more positive now. It took a lot of pressure off my shoulders. I’m very appreciative of all of those that are taking a risk just to help us, and I’m grateful that Bright Horizons opened their doors to my family. 

When we walk in, we are welcomed with smiles, and my kids are comfortable so they’re able to leave me without any difficulties. They come home and tell me about their day — the activities they did and how they played outside. Right now playing outside isn’t so ideal on the weekend, so having a place where they can just, like, run free is beyond amazing.

Every day I leave the house, I pray before I walk out the door. You hear stories and you see things that affect you. I’m nervous, but just keep a cautious, positive mindset. Just understanding who I’m doing it for — to protect and contribute to our community — that makes things better for me. We don’t know where we’ll be next week, but I’m sure it’s somewhere we can make a positive impact and help support one another.

By Shakira Robinson as told to Lindsey Benoit O’Connell

To help #FirstRespondersFirst Fund provide the supplies, equipment, and resources that healthcare professionals need to safely continue doing their work, text FIRST to 50555 or visit thriveglobal.com/firstresponders to donate.

Conceived by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public HealthThrive Global, and the CAA Foundation, #FirstRespondersFirst is an initiative created to provide first responder healthcare workers, ranging from minimum-wage hourly workers in home-care settings to social workers, nurses, physicians, and beyond, with physical and psychological resources they so desperately need as they serve on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. Through their partnership with #FirstRespondersFirst, Bright Horizons is offering free child care for the children of first responders, enabling this workforce to have peace of mind to focus on their critical jobs. The centers have special COVID-19 protocols in place, including limited capacity and small group sizes, enhanced teacher-to-child ratios, and intensive hygiene and cleaning practices to protect the health and safety of the children and staff. The centers will be staffed with expertly trained and experienced local Bright Horizons early educators, and available for children ages infant through years old. 

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