My Other Life: Debra Rowlands, family/community partnership specialist

Debra Rowlands, nail tech. In her other life: family/community partnership specialist.


As the family/community partnership specialist for the UCHRA Van Buren County Head Start in Spencer, Tenn., one of Debra Rowlands’ principle duties is recruiting children to come to her Head Start facility — part of a national program that provides comprehensive education, health, nutrition, and parent involvement services to low-income children and their families. “I also work with parents and guardians to develop a plan to improve their lives and guide them to resources to help themselves,” says Rowlands, who holds a degree in social services and also works as a nail tech at Unique Nails in Cookeville, Tenn. A major problem, however, is lack of resources. “My service area is very small and extremely rural and there are no opportunities for people. People need medical and dental care desperately — also jobs.”

Her duties also include doing public relations for Head Start and getting the community involved. “We have Mother’s Day Out where students from a local beauty school come in and cut hair and do makeup, facials, and nails. Fathers have an MVP (Male Valued Partner) Day where it is just the guys and the kids.” She is also the staff development coordinator, which means she helps those who want or need further education to obtain it.

Despite the many hats she wears, the work is consistently rewarding. “I enjoy getting people help when they need it, seeing them succeed, and making a difference in their life,” she says.

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