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Coming Full Circle and Paying It Forward

A passion for education and the desire to give back has always been central to Nalie’s life. A native of St. Paul, Nalie is the second oldest of eight kids. Her parents, who arrived in Minnesota from a Hmong refugee camp found it difficult at first to adjust to life in the US. To the family’s good fortune, they soon discovered a multitude of critical resources in their community along with several people willing to lend them a hand. 

One of the most important resources that Nalie’s parents were able to provide for their young children came courtesy of Community Action Head Start. And, it was the teachers and staff at Ruth Benner Head Start that helped cultivate a lifelong love of learning in Nalie, who ultimately went on to earn a BA in computer science from the University of Minnesota. She credits the early literacy, math skills, and life skills she gained in Head Start with putting her on the path to career success and a desire to help others. 

A mother of two, Nalie shares with her young children the importance of giving back, and together, the three of them have volunteered to put summertime learning kits together for Head Start students. Of these efforts, Nalie says “I want my kids to see the positive impact they can make in the world. If I didn’t get the support I did growing up I likely wouldn’t have been able to experience and achieve the things that I have. The least we can do as a family is help pay it forward.” 

Today, although our centers are closed due to COVID-19, Community Action Head Start continues to serve Head Start children and their families by providing lessons, activities, and other information delivered via social media, text messages, email, and video software platforms including Google Hangouts and Zoom. In addition, staff have arranged for emergency childcare and other vital services to be provided in these challenging times.

Plus, every Tuesday (from 11:00 am to 12:30 pm) through the month of June, we are operating three food distribution sites (Battle Creek HS, McDonough HS, and University HS) to ensure that our Head Start students are receiving nutritious meals along with useful educational materials. For more details, please access this Facebook video (available in English, Spanish, Somali, Hmong, and Karen).

Finally, even though we are not certain what the next several months hold in store for our communities, Community Action is accepting both Head Start and Early Head Start applications for the 2020-2021 school year. For Head Start, please visit the following link. For Early Head Start, this is your link. You may also call 651-603-5977 to speak with an Enrollment Specialist or visit us at   

Our Impact This Year

  • People Who Received Utility Bill Assistance


  • Children Enrolled in Head Start & Early Head Start


  • People Whose Utility Bills Were Lowered Through Home Weatherization


  • Workers Provided with Transportation Support Including Vehicle Loans, Repair Grants, and Transit Passes


© 2022 Community Action Partnership of Ramsey and Washington Counties

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