By Jessica Fink
When I made the exciting, yet terrifying move to Baltimore from Manhattan, I wondered what my transition would be like. And it wasn’t just any move – I was six months pregnant! For my husband, it was a piece of cake. He grew up in Pikesville and remained very close with his high school friends. It was home.
But what about me?
I grew up in South Florida and spent the last three years in Manhattan with no connection to the Pikesville community, outside of being “Steve Fink’s wife.” One of Steve’s friend’s wives had suggested I contact jOYbaby. She mentioned that they would help introduce me to the community. So I figured that I had nothing to lose.
After having my daughter, Ruby, I set up a date to meet my Joy Baby volunteer, Cindy. We decided to meet at Starbucks and she would find me – an easy task since I would be toting a newborn with me. Being a new mother and not yet giving myself extra time for that last spit-up (that completely soaked my daughter’s cute outfit), I was running 10 minutes late. As I arrived at Starbucks, Cindy’s friendly smile and wave helped alleviate the anxiety I felt about not showing up on time to our date.
Cindy spent time telling me about all of the local classes I could sign Ruby up for, as well as many other programs that I had no idea existed. She explained to me that I could register my daughter for PJ Library and they would send me a book every month … for free! She also handed me a ton of goodies that had been donated to the program. One of the goodies was a Jewish scrapbook to capture Ruby’s early years, a really nice gift valued at over $50.
After telling me about the local classes and handing me all of the treats, Cindy asked me about myself. I told her that I was a teacher at a Judaic school in New York for the past couple of years and that I have a master’s degree in Elementary Education, and another in Library Science, specializing as a media center specialist.
She also asked me if I planned on working in Baltimore. I said that I would love to, but I wasn’t really sure where to begin in the job search. I wasn’t familiar with the local schools and I had no connections. Cindy said she would send an introduction for me to a contact she had in a Judaic school. I was pleased to hear that, but didn’t think anything of it.
I actually went home and thought about updating my resume before the hiring started for the 2013-2014 school year. Within two days, I received an email that I was copied on from Cindy. The email was sent to the head of early childhood in the school Cindy mentioned. That email brought me to tears. It was a very emotional time! I was still getting acclimated to having just had the baby, and to receive that email was so beautiful.
Cindy wrote about my background as well as complimented my character. She really wrote a wonderful reference letter. The head of the school asked me to come in at my earliest convenience and, without thinking twice, I left my five-week-old baby with my husband and went to meet her.
I fell in love with the school. I felt like I belonged there and was overjoyed when they asked me to come back in for a demonstration lesson, and then again to offer me a contract for the 2013-1014 school year.
I do love the summertime, but I am so excited to begin my new teaching job at a fantastic school this fall. I know that I would not have gotten this job had I not registered for Joy Baby and met my volunteer, Cindy. She helped bring me into the community and I am so grateful for my experience!
To learn more about jOYbaby, go to http://www.joybabybalt.org/.