“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” This quote by John Quincy Adams is the essence of what not only our single-parent scholars are achieving, but what our young scholars are practicing.
Many of our young scholars spent a week of their summer gaining skills and knowledge that will help them continue to be leaders in their school, neighborhoods and community. Ty’Rell, one of our young scholars shares his thoughts on what it means to lead:
“When it is crunch time and everyone is at a loss, you or your group will turn to the one person you can depend on most, the leader, or high ranking authority figure. Being a leader is not about what power you hold, nor is it about your own personal benefit, but in fact it is about making sure those you lead have a strong, fair, honest and dependable person to turn to. But first, to be an outstanding or even decent leader, one must fully be committed to their team, they must realize who and what they are responsible for, and know that their decisions can and will affect the group, either positively or negatively. A true leader will sacrifice their own time to make sure things are well within the group. They must be able to hear everyone’s ideas and thoughts, and never put down another member. Communication is a key essential role in being a good leader as well. Stifling others for something they should have done better is alright so long as they are not put down or have crude negative comments thrown at them. Though a leader may have the final word on a decision, it is good to delegate with the group and be comfortable with assigning certain and vital roles to others. But being a leader is not all about being serious; a sense of humor to settle any tension is also a good trait, and they must be confident in everything they do. They must keep a positive attitude even when things get bad. I believe one thing that is overlooked by others is the fact that leaders must be innovative, meaning they must be able to flip a bad situation into a good one, and must be able to work with whomever they are with. They must be able to build off other’s weaknesses rather than promote the strengths. A leader should have a well-developed sense of intuition and needs to be able to inspire those around him, even the people outside of his group. I believe that there are no bad leaders, just ones who need help along the way, which is where their group, or rather their family comes in. If better is possible, then why is good simply good enough?” Read more…
Here at Family Scholar House, we are so grateful to have the help of community members who graciously give their time and talent to further the mission of FSH.
Three students from Collegiate, during their week of volunteering, learned about the many opportunities FSH provides to the single-parent students
Below is a blog they wrote after interviewing FSH parent, Channing, about not only his but his daughters’ experience at FSH.
“Every day is father’s day,” or so it seems to Channing, a 29 year old college student and current resident of Family Scholar House. Channing refers to his children as an amazing blessing from God, and he sees the role of a father to be an honorable one, not just an obligation. When speaking of his three girls, age seven, five, and two, his eyes light up. These girls are his whole world, and Family Scholar House has provided an opportunity for him to give them the stability every family needs.
His role as one of few single fathers at FSH is not only to parent his children and graduate from college, but to fill in as a male figure in the community. Many of the single moms living on his campus don’t even have to ask for his help with heavy lifting or car troubles; he offers aid without hesitation. He knows that he is doing what the moms in the community do for his girls: filling the missing parental role in their life. While Channing spends time with his girls watching movies, riding bikes, doing arts and crafts, and going to church, he is not afraid to admit that he can’t fill the maternal role all the time. The moms on campus spend time with his girls baking and dressing up and in return he carries bikes up the stairs and takes their trash out.
He is incredibly thankful for this community atmosphere, even going so far as to say his family is spoiled at Family Scholar House. The importance of a stable, safe, and positive living situation is obvious to him, and he doesn’t take it for granted in the slightest. To him, Family Scholar House is a place where everyone is in the same boat, furthering their education so they can provide for their children. He hopes to see his girls graduate with extended educations and follow their god given passions throughout their lives. FSH allows his girls a safe place where he can give them the opportunities to realize these dreams.
This Father’s Day is going to be a safe, pleasant and secure one for his family. It will be an opportunity for his girls to show him how much they appreciate the life he has given them by working to be a part of the Family Scholar House community.
Once again we find ourselves entering another summer; we are reminded by the trees blooming and the familiar heat in the air. While we embrace the ending of another school year and prepare ourselves for the change of the season, we must reflect on the aspirations met, memories made and the challenges we faced. This is a very special time around Family Scholar House as we celebrate the Class of 2014, comprised of 51 single-parent students, on what is surely one of their most celebrated accomplishments.
Many of our Family Scholar House participants have faced obstacles from a young age that would hinder most in the pursuit of their academic goals; however the single-parent students at FSH continue to show strength, wisdom, drive and courage in the midst of overwhelming adversity. Not only, have these graduates fought to change the course of their lives through education but work daily to instill this determination and perseverance in the lives of their children—and watching them walk is enough to make you believe anything is possible.
As Edward Koch once stated, “Each diploma is a lighted match and each one of you is the fuse.” The qualities these graduates exhibit will continue to inspire all those they come in contact with on their journey. As we rejoice in this great moment let us remember that this is not an ending but a beginning to a bright future!
We wish them all good things. We are thankful for being part of their lives. And we know that because of each of them, the world is a better place.
Stephanie, a resident at Family Scholar House, shares her journey of determination, hard work and resilience.
I am a single parent of a very beautiful, intelligent and sweet little girl who, by virtue of her birth, has permanently and most profoundly overhauled every aspect of my life. She’s changed how I think of myself and view the world around me; how I react and handle challenges and stress; and, most importantly, how I now function with a renewed decision-making process in regard to my lifestyle in general. While these changes are mostly positive, necessary and worthwhile, they are far from the personal zone I had previously established for myself.
Being born the seventh child in a family of eight children, to a single parent, we were pretty much “dirt poor”, but since that was all I ever knew, I never felt poor. However, I did learn at an early age to utilize whatever I had and make the best of it. That kind of mentality left little room for the nurturing of my personal growth. Knowing myself as I do now, I believe I could have been a good candidate for college had the opportunity presented itself, even if only in the form of a possibility. I had six siblings and a parent ahead of me who had never expressed desire or probability of higher education, so my understanding was that it was a closed door for me as well. Education was a luxury for people who already had the money to go in the first place.
During my senior year in high school, I decided to apply for a job. From that point on, I always had a job but the jobs that I obtained were mostly entry level. The always remember the faint but consistent nagging at the back of my mind echoing an inner desire to do something more with my life.
During a time in which my common sense must have eloped on a holiday of its own, I took on a relationship that I somehow believed was headed for wedlock. With my head dancing in the clouds, I dropped my guard and became pregnant. Of course, before the child was born, I was slapped back into reality when the soured relationship left me standing alone, pregnant and making a wage that was barely enough for me to exist on. It was no longer just about me.
When this adorable creature was born, I knew that my life’s mission was forever changed. Whatever it takes, this child will know opportunities are afforded to her, she will utilize them, and she will be able to benefit from the limitless success of walking into whatever endeavor she pursues and prepares for! This is not my only dream for her, but now an objective for my own life.
From her birth, until she was a year old, I attempted to apply for alternate employment to move up from where I was, but the same response halted my movement- no degree, not enough education. Following another year of serious prayer, research and careful planning, I made the decision to go to school full time to earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing. Throughout this endeavor, hard work and determination have brought me a long way.
On my way to class one day, I ran into an angel in the hallway of UofL who told me about Family Scholar House. Once I attended orientation and became involved in the program, I began to believe that this was a blessing designed specifically for me. In addition to providing housing, Family Scholar House helped me to systematically tackle every struggle I had ever encountered during my two-year matriculation through college. In addition to no longer having to worry about childcare, or even the most basic needs, such as food, shelter and toiletries, Family Scholar House provided a supportive community. This community supports my academic goals but even more than that, the goals I have for my life and my daughters life. I am now in an environment that understands the importance of education and does everything possible to help keep me on track while I pursue my dreams. This program offers programs that have made such an impact on my daughters life, she now has the opportunity to attend Toddler Book Club & begin building her own personal library in our apartment.
Now, I have not only envisioned and planned for an educational journey that is destined to submit positive change for myself and my family, with Family Scholar House, I now have the necessary tools I need to help me better accomplish my goals. I give thanks for where I started, where I am going and all the individuals that have played a role in offering me guidance and support. I finally feel that there is no limit on what I can accomplish! It may have taken me longer than I hoped to get to this point, but I can only be described as a conqueror because I will have overcome many obstacles to achieve that which will not only enhance my life, but also enhance my daughters life!
It is a feat of its own to raise a child with both parents: mentoring and helping sculpt the child from birth to adulthood. But Courtney, who had her daughter, Annabelle, when she was 20, does it by herself while earning all A’s as she goes to college pursuing a degree in communications. Aside from her incredible self-motivation, she has the Family Scholar House to thank for this.
Coming from an environment consisting of a lot of fighting, the sense of community at Family Scholar House was a surprising and refreshing change for Courtney. “The Community here is my biggest backbone”, Courtney shared. All the convivial events including karaoke, movie nights, cook-outs, and chili cook-offs provide opportunities for the residencies to come together and bond. Mothers and fathers alike can appreciate the fact that everyone has children and are in the same boat. So as Courtney says, it’s easy to become great friends with other residents because they understand your situation better than anyone. While old high-school friends always want to go out, neighbors at the Family Scholar House are content with just hanging out a home with the kids.
In addition to a sense of camaraderie, the Family Scholar House provides a stable and comfortable home for her daughter to grow up in. Courtney can take great comfort in knowing that she and Annabelle will always have the support of not only the other mothers and fathers, but the Family Scholar House as well.
Ricki Mathis, a program graduate who now works for Family Scholar House, would like to share her success story….
“When I became a single-parent a year after graduating high school, I knew I had to start college right away to build a better life for my daughter. We lived in the projects with my mother, and it was no place to raise a child. I began my educational journey at a community college when my daughter was five weeks old. A year passed by and I was struggling to maintain my many full-time roles – two jobs, school and parenting. I was not making enough money to move out of my mother’s apartment, so I spent most of my time at the homes of friends who lived in better neighborhoods because I didn’t want my daughter to be exposed to such an impoverished and dangerous area. Then a friend told me about a program called Project Women that helped support single mothers while they earned a college degree. I remember going to orientation and feeling like it’s where I belonged. I had no family growing up, so I longed for the support I knew the program could provide. A couple months later my daughter and I moved into our very own apartment. I felt a huge relief because I was able to decrease my work hours and really focus on school and parenting. I was getting things from the staff and community that I desired my entire life – support, stability and hope. Coming from a home with a single-parent who had little education and lived in poverty most of her own life, I was expected to become another statistic and never finish school. Project Women (now Family Scholar House) gave me the confidence, resources and opportunities I needed to defy and exceed those odds in ways I never thought possible.
I have since graduated with an Associate degree from Jefferson Community and Technical College and a Bachelor’s degree from University of Louisville and am now working on a Master’s degree from Lindsey Wilson College. Upon graduating from UofL, I was given the opportunity to work for Family Scholar House and have been a part of the staff for 3 years now. I cannot adequately express the feeling I get from helping single parents who are facing hardships similar to the ones I endured. It’s more than simply ‘giving back’ – it’s giving hope to those who are homeless and feel as though they have nowhere to turn; it’s helping someone find resources to provide necessities for their children; it’s authentically connecting with and relating to someone who feels completely alone during their time of struggle. I’ve been able to show compassion in a way that no other staff member here can because I understand exactly how it is to be on the other side. Although I will continue my own education to provide a better life for myself and my children, this program has given me things that money cannot buy, such as confidence, guidance, opportunity and a new perspective on helping others. And, each and every day I try my best to give my clients the same so that they may pass those things down to their children as well.”
Jackie dreamed of being a star. Her entire childhood was devoted to her growth as a dancer. Her dream was so big that despite not being able to afford professional lessons, she taught herself moves from her favorite movies such as Save the Last Dance. She entered dance competitions with her church group in order to gain any little bit of experience she could in the world of dance. She was set on her path in life, and with determination she might just realize her childhood dreams.
Being a student at University of Louisville, it made sense that Jackie would try out for the Ladybirds dance team. They were the hardest auditions of her life. Ultimately, she didn’t make the team, but her spirits weren’t crushed. Her perseverance was obvious when she said, “Always try something even though you might not feel like you are the best. I always like trying new things. I don’t let anything negative stop me from doing what I want to do.”
When she had her daughter and joined family scholar house, she knew she had a responsibility to instill this positive attitude to her daughter’s life and the children of the community. Although her dance star dreams were made even more difficult, her spirit remained the same. Her goal is to empower young women to work together. She somehow finds time in her busy schedule of being a full time student and mother to be an event coordinator for University of Louisville’s “Empowering Ladies Together” program. She also helps out in programs with Cochran Elementary School and volunteers with the American Reads program along with working as a banquet server at the Seelbach Hilton.
Jackie knows that having a child changed her life, but it didn’t change her dreams. She is determined to get a full education while continuing to pursue her passion for the fine arts. Her ability to stay positive and keep moving along her chosen path in life is solely attributed to awe inspiring determination. She thanks Family Scholar House for giving her the stable environment and tools she needs to make her dreams for herself and her daughter a reality.