Our hearts are heavy. Anita Brentley, a pivotal member of Every Child Succeeds, has passed.
Anita taught us that the key to helping communities and families was sincere caring and empathy and valuing each other. With a smile and enthusiasm no one could ignore, she urged all of us to be our best selves and together we were able to make incredible progress – families, workers, community.
Anita worked in partnership with our Every Child Succeeds families for 12 years before moving to help lead Community Health Community Engagement work within Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. She came to ECS after working with Trauma and Injury Prevention at Cincinnati Children’s, delivering training on Home Safety. She then bridged to become project lead for ECS’s Assuring Smoke-free Homes (ASH) grant.
Anita led the award-winning Avondale/ECS Partnership for many years. She partnered with Carmel Presbyterian Church to offer monthly moms’ groups (with amazing speakers – authors, health professionals) and dads’ groups with help from Firefighter Ron Wilkins. Geoffrey Canada from the Harlem Children’s Zone spoke at the kickoff event at the church. She created a pantry there for families with children, ages 0-3. Also, as part of the Avondale project, Anita developed a program for Avondale moms and families with the Freedom Center, sponsored by Toyota, that focused on African American history and heroes and included a field trip to the John Rankin House. It was a powerful series with high levels of participation and opportunities to reflect. Anita also grew community engagement efforts in other neighborhoods, such as Lincoln Heights and Corryville. She was the Best Baby Zone coordinator in Price Hill. Anita’s Avondale project was the predecessor to Start Strong and she was the bridge to this expanded effort. Her work is captured in a Community Engagement Manual.
Hearing Anita speak about her work in Avondale inspired us all. You can read her words describing the importance and impact of the work she did in Avondale in an article she wrote for Cincinnati.com.
Our thoughts and prayers are with Anita’s friends, family, and colleagues, as well and the many people she touched throughout the community.
There is so much more we could say about Anita, but it seems fitting to close with her words again:
“My message to you: value your community, cherish your families and your children, provide opportunities for them to thrive. Know that we all want to be good parents and celebrate every success.”
We will, Miss Anita.