“If you can’t hold children in your arms, please hold them in your heart.” – Clara Hale
Today we proudly dedicated our largest Harlem Early Childhood Education Center to Mother Clara Hale. Mother Hale was a beacon of hope for children and families in Harlem during the peak of the heroin and AIDS epidemics, taking hundreds of addicted babies into her care over several decades, and founding the Hale House nonprofit which Sheltering Arms proudly welcomed as part of our organization in 2015.
“I was fortunate enough to meet Mother Hale. She was fairly advanced in years, but still had an amazing inner light that particularly burned bright when she talked about her kids. She devoted her life to the care of both her kids, and the babies she took in for treatment, as if they were her own children. She took in hundreds of babies over the years, typically who were born in very unfortunate circumstances to addicted mothers. She gave them all the unconditional love that she gave to her own children. I think Mother Hale would have been incredibly proud to have this Early Childhood Education Center named after her,” said Dominic Freud, member of the Sheltering Arms Board of Directors, and former member of the Hale House Board for over a decade.
We are honored to preserve Mother Hale’s legacy of compassion and commitment to the potential of all children at the Mother Hale Learning Center, where hundreds of Harlem’s low-income children receive research-proven education, mental health care, and family support services. 95% of the children graduate from the program meeting or exceeding developmental standards, up from just 45% in the beginning of the year.
“Mother Hale would always say, ‘I’m not a hero, I just care for children,’ but we know she is a hero to Harlem’s children and families, and we are honored to dedicate our work to her legacy here,” said Elizabeth McCarthy, CEO of Sheltering Arms.
As our children celebrate Women’s History Month and Black History Month in their lessons, we’re glad for another opportunity to honor her work, which earned her the well-deserved recognition of national and international influencers – from Nancy Reagan to Princess Diana. Mother Hale gives us all the confidence that our Harlem children will grow up and establish their own legacies as change-makers for their community.