“I had to walk back downstairs,” she says. “I understood where they were coming from, to see children so happy and so excited over a meal. Some of them who had pumpkin pie did not know what it was.”
In a similar incident, the school lunch menu was Oriental and included fortune cookies.
“The little kids were complaining, they’d never seen paper in their cookies,” she says. “It was cute, but it was also sad.”
Carey knows the economy in Ashtabula is not entirely to blame for this situation but feels it is a factor. She says the parents she works with desperately need to improve their own educational levels and thereby improve their chances of getting higher-paying work. Yet, they are reluctant to tap into the resources that will get them there, like the Adult Basic Education program formerly offered at the building.
“I think they are afraid to ask for help because they don’t want to be looked down upon,” Carey says of the parents.
Many of the parents she works with are paying for mistakes they made when they were younger, one or two bad decisions that set the course of their lives — and, all too often, those of their children, as well.
“We get so many parents who come in and tell us they don’t want their kids to make the mistakes they made,” Carey says.