I first found Sunflower Creative Arts shortly after giving birth to my second son, Nate.

My first introduction started like many, in the beloved Circle of Song class. After class Susan made a brief announcement explaining Sunflower and all it had to offer, and then I joined the moms and babies in Share & Learn at the park next door.

I knew I belonged here

I sat and listened to these women, all with the same concerns I had as a parent. Then I listened to the thoughtful words Susan used to encourage and uplift these women, and I thought, “Wow, they really get me.” It was as if they’d torn a page from my book.

I felt like I’d never truly fit in anywhere, even in my own family. It was as though I had spent my life screaming at the top of my lungs and no one heard me. As if I had been taught to ignore the scream I felt most deep inside. From the moment I stepped foot into Circle of Song that first day, I knew I belonged here, and I would do anything I had to do to be here, as long and as often as possible.

The first taste I had I couldn’t get enough. I rushed to my local library to get my hands on every book possible. I had a voracious hunger to help feed this voice inside I had hushed for so long. Finally I had validation that my innermost thoughts, ideals and feeling were not silly; they weren’t child’s play. It was compassion, dignity, respect and integrity. Once that fire was lit, there was no going back. The call was so strong, in fact, I abandoned 30 years of life training almost immediately. Without hesitation I knew that this was the song my heart had been singing all along, and I wasn’t going to give up letting it sing anymore.

Sunflower family

Sunflower family

However, being a stay-at-home mom with two boys so close in age (15 months apart), discretionary income was non-existent. I needed to find a way to include my children in this magical place. Without the help of the Sunflower Scholarship Fund, there is absolutely NO way my children could have been a part of the program. I was contemplating even having to move into a one-bedroom apartment so that we could afford to keep them there. It was imperative to me that they experience this type of childhood, that they have this foundation in life that I feel ALL children deserve. A foundation that they can carry with them well into adulthood.

The Sunflower Scholarship Fund works to ensure that families, like mine, who otherwise could not afford to give their children the opportunity of Play + Nature + Arts education, are included. The pillars of the Sunflower community believe in building up families from the inside out and bringing them together. The lessons I continue to learn daily from Sunflower still speak directly to my heart. Like a toddler, I’ve slowly learned to walk in this new role. A bit wobbly at first, but determined to learn. With the right knowledge (seeds), some water (love) and some bright sun (patience) we’ve grown as a family.

The people we’ve met here will stay with us for many years to come. They’ve helped us to develop our own unique family style and continue to support us along the way. I am forever grateful to this wonderful organization that I am thrilled to call my family, my tribe.

Post by Erika Villalobos
Photos by Meade Peers McCoy

Did you like what you read here? You can help even more families find their voice and their tribe with a gift to the Sunflower Scholarship Fund. Give today– or join a whole community of people giving back during the Great Give Palm Beach & Martin Counties. Sunflower is participating in this 24-hour online giving event for nonprofits, May 5-6, 2015, 5:00 pm – 5:00 pm. All donations made to Sunflower on that day, through this link, will benefit our Scholarship Fund, which provides need-based scholarships for Sunflower classes: www.greatgiveflorida.org/#npo/sunflower-creative-arts

Erika is a write at home mom / blogger of two Seedlings and proud Sunflower mom. She is an advocate for play and all things essential.