Jordan Javier, Director of University Hospitals’ Rainbow Center for Women & Children, is the first member of the Hanna Perkins board of directors who was also a Hanna Perkins student.
“But that’s not happenstance,” he says. “I always knew it would happen because Hanna Perkins was an important part of my upbringing.”
Javier attended Hanna Perkins preschool and kindergarten in the early 1980s at its former University Circle location, and his memories of it are what you might expect. He remembers waiting his turn to ride a red bike. He remembers his family helper was Beatrice “Bunny” Griffin; when he met her again as an adult just a few years ago, he confirmed his recollection that she had driven a Saab.
While the memories are fragmented, Javier says Hanna Perkins has been a daily part of his life ever since.
“We never put Hanna Perkins in a box and stored it away. It has always remained front and center in my life,” he says. “My mom and I would refer to it when we were talking. I still use what I learned there every day.”
Javier was 3 when his parents divorced. The marriage had been difficult, and the split left his mother in a dire financial situation. They moved several times that first year, while his mother tried to deal with his increasingly troubled behavior – tantrums, spitting on loved ones, and uncontrollable outbursts toward his mother and teachers.
Somehow she found her way to Hanna Perkins.
“It was quite an endeavor. We were living in Mayfield Heights and she was working at Southgate,” Javier recalls. “We would go down to University Circle in the morning. She would pick me up at lunchtime and take me to JDN (Early Childhood Center in Shaker Heights) and go back to work. I don’t know how she did it.”
They worked together with the Hanna Perkins team on understanding the emotions that drove the little boy’s behavior, and how to work through them together.
“It’s been part of my life ever since,” Javier says.
In his LinkedIn profile, he describes himself as “emotionally intelligent.” He uses that intelligence every day in his job. “Everybody is entitled to their feelings,” he says. “Being aware of your own emotions and those of others – that’s not just child-raising; that’s leadership.”
When Javier tells his story, he also emphasizes that it wouldn’t have been possible without Hanna Perkins’ commitment to help families regardless of their ability to pay.
“I was someone who benefited from a scholarship. My mother didn’t have the money to pay for the help we were receiving. We got the chance because of the generosity of others who understand the importance of what Hanna Perkins does,” he says. “That’s why I always knew I’d come back. And I hope others will read this as a call to action.”