Kim Desso has taught all over the world, but some of her most life-altering teaching has been going on in Lewiston, where she has worked for Advocates for Children the past five years connecting with children, coordinating agency efforts and teaching professionals how to spot and address child abuse. For more on this Vermont native, read on.

Name: Kim Desso

Age: 47

Current town of residence: Lewiston

A place you’d recommend to a visitor to L-A, and why: Advocates for Children, of course. We are celebrating our 35th anniversary serving Androscoggin County. Although we’re a small agency, we offer something for everyone from play groups to parenting programs and support groups, professional trainings and the Maine Families Home Visiting Program! We also host community events like the upcoming seminar about Bullying on November 6 at the Royal Oak Room.

We’re moving to 124 Canal St. at the end of September. I encourage everyone to check out our website at www.advocatesforchildren.net or stop by our new location in October.

What do you miss most about Vermont, and which state has better fall foliage? I enjoy all of the New England states along with each particular culture. As far as foliage, I believe beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

What’s a place you’d recommend to a visitor to Africa, and why: I highly recommend the Dogon Region. It’s like walking back in time thousands of years. Go with a local resident and you’re more likely to be invited to meet the chief of the village and his family.

A place you’d recommend to a visitor to Greece, and why: I lived on Crete for a couple of years and I love all of the islands, but Santorini, Ios and Mykonos were my favorites. They each have their own cultural flavor. Any place near the ocean is great to me.

As a teacher in Africa, Greece and the United States, what are some of the biggest differences you’ve noticed in how adults relate to children in the different cultures? I’ve learned that all parents love and want the best for their children regardless of culture, class, religion, skills or abilities. All children deserve to be loved unconditionally and cherished. I think the biggest differences are related to cultural beliefs and economic advantages.

One of the things I love about working with Advocates for Children is that we have a very talented and highly skilled staff who welcome all parents, caregivers and families. I think the quality of one’s life depends on how well we’re able to create supportive connections and communities. There are many ways to do that.

Regardless of where you live, what are some of the fundamental things a parent can do to help ensure their child will have a good start in life? As adults and caregivers we need to take good care of ourselves so that we can have the patience, understanding and interest in doing the hard work of parenting and caregiving. We can’t give what we don’t have. We need to learn how to meet our own needs in healthy and effective ways before we’re able to help others get their needs met.

What is something you make sure you do once in a while that relieves stress and brings out your inner child? I love to cook, play with my niece and nephews, spend time near the water, and there’s nothing better than a good massage!


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