In 1968, a young grandparent, Trenton Mitchell, was chairperson of the Delegate Policy Committee at Union Methodist Head Start in Brooklyn, New York. A point in time came, where the program was no longer able to meet at the location so Mr. Mitchell, along with four other parents, retained an attorney to draft a proposal and to form a corporation for the operation of their own new Head Start program.
Mr. Mitchell’s proposal was presented to and accepted by the Community Development Agency under the Human Resources Administration. In October of 1969, Community Parents was incorporated and 60 children received their Head Start experience at Friendship Baptist Church, located at 92 Herkimer Street.
The new program occupied the choir room, which was on the second floor of the building, while the kitchen was in the basement. The teachers painted the classrooms themselves to make them appealing to the students. The program remained at this location until the facility was no longer able to meet the requirements of the Department of Health.
Assistant teacher, Pearl Neverson, and Education Director, Salita Beuney, searched for an alternative space and found a facility constructed for OIC Day Care at the Jackie Robinson Housing Complex. It had been unoccupied for two years, and was ready for new life to form. Rachelle Robinson, the wife of the renowned baseball player, for whom the housing complex was named, was instrumental and invaluable in securing the site for Community Parents Head Start. The program relocated to 90 Chauncey Street in 1978.
The 1980s presented a difficult financial time for Community Parents Head Start due to growing demands to meet the needs of the community. It needed to expand to include an additional classroom. Payrolls were tight and sometimes delayed. Personnel turnover was high. Volunteer parents, through commitment and dedication, eventually became permanent staff. Community Parents Head Start persevered.
The 1990s brought a period of rapid change. The additional classroom, which had been closed, reopened to become one of the first facilities for extended day services. It was Community Parents’ initial step toward automation. In 1991, Mr. Mitchell decided that it was time to pass the torch and retired from the program after many years of service and dedication.
Everything came to a sudden halt on Martin Luther King’s birthday, in 1992. A fire completely destroyed the extended day classroom and severely damaged the remaining premises. The dedicated staff was diligent in reaching out to the community to find a temporary site. Berean Missionary Baptist Church opened its doors to CPI, and the program was relocated to 1635 Bergen Street during the grueling renovation process of the burned out facility. At the time, the motto was, “The Phoenix shall rise from the ashes.” After four months, Community Parents Head Start returned home to a newly renovated and modernized facility.
In this new decade, Community Parents, Inc. has come a long way! It is one of the few agencies which has a collaboration with Kids-Centric which provides itinerant services for children with Special Needs. An on-site playground has been developed. Community Parents, Inc. has maintained step with new and emerging technologies. Community Parents, Inc. continues to live up to its legacy by serving children and families in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Far Rockaway, and Brownsville.