Seattle’s Child is proud to partner with the state Department of Children, Youth and Families Strengthening Families Washington to honor outstanding caregivers doing important work on behalf of children.
All month long, we’ll introduce you to Unsung Heroes from around the state: biological parents, grandparents, foster and adoptive parents. Some volunteer at local schools; some have started nonprofits; some mentor others in their communities. Enjoy their stories.
Rayna Espinosa Ives, Bremerton
Rayna had a goal of seeing herself speaking to friends and family/other parents in large settings, showing them the importance of being heard in their own community when applying to our program.
Rayna has anxiety about speaking in large crowds, but she found a safe space in Parent Ambassadors. She was encouraged to bring her authentic self to our program, and Rayna has done just that. In her first act of public speaking with our program, she stood up in front of the group and sang a song from her ancestors. She had us speechless and eager to learn more about her culture.
Rayna is a person who is full of love and grace for those around her. Her understanding of her own culture helped our leadership in significant ways to understand why our typical approach would not work with a grant reaching into tribal communities for advocacy. She went to Arizona for a parent conference and walked through the boarding school exhibit and then led our group in a healing circle by again sharing her Native song while still feeling her own pain.
Rayna has a deep understanding and connection to her tribe. Rayna has felt the sting of racism in school and the oppression from the patriarchy as she walked into adulthood as a dark-skinned S’Klallam woman, but it was truly the love of and for her community that forged her identity.
Rayna has often been told that she shouldn’t be so bold and so loud. Rayna has taken her boldness and amplified her Native voice standing up for her community and those coming behind her. She emceed a panel with the Office of Head Start in a listening session for Tribal Programs. Her willingness to be a connector while facing her own fears of public speaking on behalf of others is something we are very proud of.
Rayna is the definition of an Unsung Hero.
Nominator: Washington State Parent Ambassadors
More Unsung Heroes:
Sandra Stokes is a guardian angel to new moms
Josie Garcia is passionate about her family and community
Spokane mom strives to become the best version of herself
Brian McClay, adoptive dad and champion to kids facing challenges
These parents are devoted to their preemie triplets (and four other kids!)