Student, child care worker
Despite being only a few years older than some of the children she works with, Alyssa Withee is making an impact on young lives in Gardiner and Hallowell.
Withee, 22, is a full-time college student. She also babysits, works as an aide at Hand in Hand Early Learning Center and works with children at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church, both in Hallowell, near where she lives. She has become enough of an influence in the young lives she touches that she was just honored for her work.
At an Oct. 3 award ceremony in Freeport, many families were on hand to watch their “adopted” older sister or babysitter receive the Champions for Children Giraffe Award from the Augusta-based Maine Children’s Alliance, presented to individuals and organizations who are “sticking their neck out for children.” The Maine Children’s Alliance advocates for public policies that benefit Maine children.
Nina Fisher, a family friend who nominated Withee for the award, considers her one of the family.
“There are countless reasons why Alyssa deserves this award, but what truly stands out is her respect for children. She respects them as the unique individuals that they are and honors their creativity, their silliness, and their stubbornness! She welcomes it all and treats them with such respect,” Fisher said.
With all her work around children, it could seem odd that Withee is not attending college to get a degree in early childhood education. Instead, Withee is majoring in political science at the University of Southern Maine, with the idea to eventually work as some type of policy leader, shaping the state and the country to be a better place.
“Being a young adult working with teens, it can be kind of weird because they still feel like they are peers, but I’m an adult to them, even though some I’ve known for years. It’s now about bridging that gap and separating the space,” Withee said.
Withee said eventually her career path may meld with her love of child care to make her a lobbyist for children’s rights or another area, but for now she is content leading her church youth program as a children’s minister and taking care of the children and young adults who have become her extended family.
“I really love children. I joke that I want my own, a basketball team, which the other mothers think is crazy, but I love kids,” Withee said.