June 24, 2020

Remembering Maria Whelan

I met Maria early in my career over forty years ago when i was a teacher at center that closed long ago. She and the Director of that union sponsored center, Amalgamated Day Care Center were friends. Maria gave a speech at the union and I was in attendance. I was so impressed by her speech and energy and remember thinking, Wow what an amazing woman! Our paths crossed many times over the years. When I was hired to start a network of family child care homes for El Valor in the South Chicago are I remember calling her to complain that there were no services in the area for new provides. She assured me there would be soon. Long story short, El Valor became a community partner and brought services to the area. The El Valor children’s program director and I barely 5 feet tall each, were greeted by Maria at that first grantee meeting. Maria quite a bit taller than us came from behind, grabbed us tight by the shoulder and asked us question. She always greeted me in a happy, glad to see you way. Once she scolded me when I forgot to turn my off my phone volume at a big meeting. She expected much of us at rallies in Springfield as she sent us off to speak to legislators. Many children and families are better for her dedication that was contagious for me. It was my honor to know her and call her my mentor and friend! I will miss you Maria, tu amiga Rosita