Preschool teacher's personal story captivates audience

"I am these children."

Those words surprised and touched more than 300 people listening to Dominque Pressnell speak at last year's Oakland Family Services Building A Brighter Future Breakfast. 

The soft-spoken Children's Learning Center preschool teacher captivated the audience when she revealed that she is the little girl she discussed in her speech. 

The little girl whose mother struggled with mental illness and drug addiction and couldn't care for her and her older brother, physically or emotionally.

The little girl who failed kindergarten because her mom did not wake up to take her to school.

And the little girl who was always hungry and was eventually removed from her mom's home at age 7, along with her 10-year-old brother, to live with her aunt. With two children of her own, her aunt worked three jobs to pay the bills and feed four children. The family was very poor and relied on donations just to have Christmas.

"These are oftentimes the same exact issues that the children served by Oakland Family Services are facing," Dominique explained.

"Just as my aunt did for me, Oakland Family Services wraps its arms around these kids and their families, and protects them, and advocates for them. Just as my aunt was my consistent person, my cheerleader, this agency works to defend and care for these children in their time of need."

She should know. At age 9 Dominique began counseling at Oakland Family Services to help her deal with the trauma she had experienced, as well as her anger. The positive impact the agency had on Dominique had a lasting impact. As an adult she found herself coming back to work as a preschool teacher for the agency that helped her in her time of need.

"These children and these families are our priority at Oakland Family Services," she said. "These are our kids. Every day we are working to build a brighter future for them and every day, we are transforming their tomorrows."