Congratulations Unsung Hero: Bulcha Kenate
February is Parent Recognition Month. Strengthening Families Washington, of the Department of Early Learning for Washington State, believes there is no better way to recognize a parent, grandparent, foster or adoptive parent than by acknowledging the numerous and impressive things they do to strengthen their family and those around them in their community.
Seattle’s Child is proud to sponsor the Washington Unsung Hero Awards, recognizing our everyday heroes and honoring the important role caregivers play in children’s lives. There are 28 nominees for the 28 days of February, and Seattle’s Child will highlight each and every one.
Congratulations to the Unsung Hero for February 8: Bulcha Kenate – Tukwila, WA:
I had the pleasure and blessing to have had the opportunity to work with a family that had recently arrived as refugees to the USA in the spring of 2011 from Kenya. The family had been in hiding for approximately 3 years prior to gaining acceptance to come to the United States. Father began working in order to provide financially for their family; however, due to a chronic medical condition he was unable to fulfill his duties because of being in extreme amount of pain. In the midst of pain it was a battle to ensure that medical coverage would be offered and cover the needed treatment father would require. Mother was also newly pregnant and the family was in need of all baby items for their new baby. Their five year old boy was attending our preschool and was displaying several behaviors that were somewhat concerning. It was really unknown as to whether there was something delaying this child, or if it was simply the culture change and language barrier. There were endless battles with DSHS for insurance and WorkFirst requirements. The family did not know how to navigate the new daunting systems we have in place or how to really advocate for themselves. With that said, despite all the hurdles this family faced, they were always so grateful to be in the United States. In the beginning there were so many issues to address and try to eliminate that it was difficult even knowing where to start. If I could nominate this entire family I would; however, the father is the one that I would like to nominate. I have been working in the social service field for 12 years and have never worked NEXT to a client the way I got to with Bulcha.
Bulcha is a kind, determined, and hard-working man that was not going to give up on supporting his family. Bulcha came to the United States to make things better for his family and create a new life for all of them and not once did he lose sight of this goal. When I would encourage him to slow down in order to take care of himself, he would quietly agree yet stubbornly do differently. Outside of a couple of hospitalizations that slowed him down, nothing else stopped him as he was determined to ensure that he was the one supporting his family financially and physically. Although it took us a school year in working through things and getting services aligned, the family is doing great and has become so self-sufficient within the community and continue to access services on their own. Bulcha’s medical condition is maintained at this time yet will be a long-term health condition he will deal with. Both parents finished WorkFirst trainings and are still attending higher level ESL classes. They had their baby boy almost one year ago this coming March. The preschooler is doing well in Kindergarten with some additional services. The most celebratory piece for Bulcha is that he obtained employment through the SeaTac airport and has been working part time for them for a little while now. It was amazing to watch this determined man continue to go after what he wanted and set forth doing before he even arrived in the United States. I remember the day that Bulcha shared with me that he got his job and he was in tears. As I mentioned, I have never worked alongside a client so determined before. It was difficult to see how sick he was and the pain he endured and all he wanted to do was work to support his family.
The true resiliency and courage demonstrated by this man and his family is forever impacting. I got the privilege of being a part of this family’s life and literally watch somebody persevere through many hardships in order to reach a goal. I also had the privilege of getting to know about their culture through their story.
Nominator: Mandy Engelker
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Read the stories about the other inspiring Unsung Hero award winners:
February 1: Christine Matter – Tacoma, WA
February 2: Christena Evans – Spokane, WA
February 3: Carmen Gonzalez – Burien, WA
February 4: Sence Gonzalez – Olympia, WA
February 5: Lina McDonald – Silverdale, WA
February 6: Roseanne Henzel – Yakima, WA
February 7: Jill Homme & Deb Libbey – Battle Ground, WA