Nanny On A Mission

(The New York Times) Sue Downey was standing before a packed room in Midtown recently, extolling the benefits of cotton balls.

“The most fun you will ever have with a 7-year-old is a cotton ball, a straw and a wood floor,” she said, telling the 90 nannies in the audience to use the straw to blow the ball from one end of the room to the other. “Now, introduce a stopwatch to the game, and they can also practice telling time.”

The Saturday seminar, which covered topics like early-childhood development, résumé building and mental health, was the brainchild of Alene Mathurin, a nanny and organizer. After the presentation by Ms. Downey, a nanny in Philadelphia, Ms. Mathurin took the microphone.

“I want you to stand up and close your eyes,” Ms. Mathurin said in her singsong Caribbean accent. “I want you to picture yourself exactly how you see yourself, and I want to tell you some things about yourself. “I want you to know that you are beautiful. I want you to know that you are enough.” Some of the nannies called out in agreement. “I want you to know that you are all woman. And while you are doing this, I want you to exhale.”

Ms. Mathurin, 43, is the founder of My Nanny Circle, a grass-roots group that focuses on the training and empowerment of caregivers. The organization is not political, but on this particular Saturday, it was impossible to ignore the events that had unfolded in Washington the day before. President Trump had signed an executive order curtailing immigration, and anxieties were high. According to the Economic Policy Institute, a research organization in Washington, about 38 percent of nannies in New York State are non-naturalized immigrants.