2018 Recipient of the Myra Shapiro Early Childhood Leadership Award
A very special part of the Apple Blossom Awards hosted by CCCR, is the honoring of the annual recipient the ‘Myra Shapiro Early Childhood Leadership Award’. This year Barbara Mainster will receive this prestigious award for her decades of advocacy and activism on behalf of Collier County’s children.
An advocate for farm workers and their families, Ms. Mainster has often testified before congressional and legislative committees and is a frequent visitor to legislative halls in Washington and Tallahassee. Ms. Mainster also went door-to-door to several Florida lawmakers urging defeat of bills that would have unintended negative consequences for farmworker families.
Barbara Mainster devoted more than forty years to the Redlands Christian Migrant Association (RCMA), and served as its Executive Director for more 28 years. When Barbara joined RCMA in 1972, the association had three childcare centers. When Barbara retired the RCMA had grown to operate 68 child-care centers, three charter schools and serve nearly 7,000 children of migrants, farmworkers and settled farmworkers, and working poor families in 21 Florida counties. RCMA continues to flourish today, after Barbara’s retirement in 2017, and is the largest non-profit child-care provider in the state.
Her expertise is often sought by childcare and farmworker oversight groups. To name just a few, Ms. Mainster served as vice chair of the Governor’s Advisory Council on Farmworker Affairs (1996-98); is a past president of the Florida Children’s Forum; and was appointed by Florida Gov. Jeb Bush to the Florida Farmworker Housing Coalition in 2000.
Ms. Mainster was awarded the prestigious Nancy Thomas Award at the 21st annual One Goal Summer Conference of approximately 1,000 early childhood professionals in Tampa. This was among many state and national awards Ms. Mainster has received throughout her distinguished career.