Meet our Summer Interns!

Two high-school students along with one college students will be interning with Family Scholar House throughout June and July. Taj Tillman, a rising senior at DuPont Manual High School, will be assisting Family Scholar House through the SummerWorks Program. Taj hopes to study law at the University of Louisville in the future. Throughout her time here, Taj is excited to help people within the community and encourage those around her. Also interning through the SummerWorks Program is Trevon Williams. Trevon is a rising sophomore at DeSales High School, hoping to one day play college football and study law. Additionally, over the summer with Family Scholar House, Trevon is excited to help people in a new way, as well as support those in his Louisville community. Our third intern is Washington & Lee University student Alexandra Pearson. Alexandra will be interning through the Shepherd Higher Education Consortium on Poverty program. Alexandra currently studies Psychology and Human Capability Studies at W&L. Alexandra is excited that with her time at Family Scholar House she will be able to learn more about the different outlets of assistance and be able to be a part of Family Scholar House’s impact on the lives of many in the community.

We’re excited they’re here!

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When was the last time your cooking utensils made you cry?

We often take for granted the simplest things in life, such as a hot meal. Imagine feeding your kids cereal for the majority of their meals. You may be thinking, “That’s not healthy, I would never do that.” But what if that was the only choice you had because you didn’t have basic kitchen necessities such as a skillet.

Recently, a pre-resident came in for orientation. She shared her story and how she desperately needed a pan so she could cook more nutritious meals for her kids.

After searching high and low, we found one, single skillet. We were able to give it to her, and upon receiving it, she cried tears of joy.

A Season of Celebration

Each May, we take time to celebrate the accomplishments of our participants. Donned in their caps and gowns, our scholars inspire their children to one day also be college graduates. Whether they realize it or not, as each parent walks across the stage, their kids beam with pride. On June 18th, we will have our annual Graduation Celebration. As our participants receive praise for their hard work, their kids receive hats that say, “My Mom’s A Grad!”

Throughout this season of celebration, we experience a full range of emotions. Some truly never believed they could make it this far, others knew they had it in them, but each time they got up to succeed, they were kicked down again. Our graduating class is a group of overcomers. While experiencing any range of factors from homelessness, to domestic violence, to food insecurity, to a gross lack of support, these participants have worked hard in school, raised their kids, provided for their families, but most of all, they have been a role model. They have taken on challenges in order to achieve their highest quality of life. They are one step closer to their goal of self-sufficiency.

The next step for our participants? Finding a job!

If your company is hiring, please feel free to send job descriptions and where to apply to krobinson@familyscholarhouse.org. We would love to share potential opportunities with our hard-working grads!

“Is there a minimum donation required to give?”

Last week, Family Scholar House had the privilege of sharing about our organization at the Oldham County Schools Arts Center. While there, we were able to provide information about FSH and collect donations.

A young girl, probably around 12 years old, approached the table and asked what we do. We told her about FSH. In reply, she asked, “Is there was a minimum donation required to give?”

So often, we forget how much of a difference a seemingly small contribution can make, but when we come together, a small donation can make a huge difference in the lives of many. At Family Scholar House, we are grateful for each and every donation, whether it be a single pair of shoes, a box of pencils, a piece of furniture, or an hour of your time.

We thank YOU for your ongoing support of Family Scholar House. Each dollar raised helps us reach our goal of ending the cycle of poverty through education. It allows us to provide resources and opportunities for our incredibly deserving participants.

In the case of our young friend, she gave two dollars. Two dollars of selfless giving in order to help others. Two dollars covers the cost of an after school snack for one of our kids. Two dollars covers the cost of a pack of notecards in order to help one of our scholars prepare for finals. Even two dollars can make an impact, but what made the biggest impact on us, is the generous giving of a young girl who just wanted to help.

The Importance of Health and Giving It Your All

At Family Scholar House, the very first thing is to ensure that a participant is safe and their basic needs are met. However, if those boxes are checked, is that enough to set our participants up for success?

We don’t think so.

That is why we offer a wide range of support through our Family Advocates and Academic Coaches. Because each participant is assigned to both a Family Advocate and Academic Coach, they can rest assured that there is always someone who has their back. College is not easy, raising children as a single parent is a daily challenge, but with a solid support system, grit, and determination, our participants conquer each day.

One of our participants recently said, “With support coming from every angle, there is no room for failure!” She emphasized the importance of mental health by adding you have to “give it everything you’ve got to give, but never more than what you have to give because your health is your first priority…then everything else.”

We strive to provide the absolute best support for Family Scholar House participants in every way possible. Our participant, Jasmine, said it best: “Give yourself credit, it wasn’t easy getting here!”

Today’s message is simple: take care of yourself so you can give it your all.

A LouieConnect Story

Do you know about LouieConnect? LouieConnect is user-friendly app that connects community members in need with those who can help can get their need met. If you are, or know someone who is, struggling with food insecurity, unstable housing, financial emergency, senior or veteran services, or a single parent in crisis, LouieConnect can help.
This past fall, a LouieConnect team member participated in a student resource fair at JCTC this fall. The team member noticed a young man came into the room and was going from table to table asking organizations if they had part time work for college students. They all said no, though a few offered unpaid internships.
The young man, clearly anxious, replied to everyone that he needed paid work. When he got to the LouieConnect table, the team member explained what the site did, and the young man got out his smartphone. The team member learned that the young man was a refugee from the Iraq war and a first generation college student who felt that he was not only attending school for himself, but for his whole family. In other words, there was a great deal riding on his search for a paid internship.

Before he left the room, he was on the phone making an appointment with the Kentucky Youth Career Center, thanks to the “call” feature on LouieConnect. The result of a few minutes of conversation and a couple of taps on his phone resulted in him going from anxious desperation to hope, knowing he could find a path forward for himself and keep making his family proud.
Such is the power of Louie Connect.

Growing Imagination!

The PNC Grow Up Great Initiative is an integral part of the lives of the youngest scholars at Family Scholar House–and in the Grow Up Great Imaginarium, these youngest members of the FSH family are invited to explore the world around them in all sorts of ways. Alongside of colors, shapes, transportation, feelings, music and food, children can “try on” clothing from different countries and from different community helpers. They can engage with books and items that interest them, sparking further possibility and wondering. Truly, there isn’t anywhere they cannot go in the Imaginarium! Our tremendous gratitude to all who have made this possible!

 

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The Most Important Thing…

“My dreams for the future are pretty typical. I want a good job, and I want my son to be healthy and happy. I want a house big enough for me and whoever my family may consist of at the time, and I really just want to be as healthy and happy as possible. I want to have enough money to live day to day without stress, but I don’t need the most luxurious life. I really just hope to live a fulfilled life, and I want my son to have the same thing, there’s not much more I could ask for.”

 

These are the words of Madison.

 

Like all Family Scholar House participants Madison has a story to tell. She has known difficult days, including broken relationships, abuse and housing insecurity. From the moment she knew Liam was on the way, she knew she wanted more for him, and she set about making that happen.

 

Today, Madison is an organizational communication major at Indiana University Southeast, and she and her son Liam, now almost two, live at Riverport Scholar House. They are fully engaged in life at Riverport, and Madison is learning all sorts of life skills as she creates new friendships and builds a more secure future for herself and for Liam. She credits the amazing opportunity and community at FSH with having gotten this far, but the credit is due to her as well–Madison is strong. Smart. Ready to be the best mother she can be to her son and committed to earning her degree and launching a successful career.

 

And when Madison was asked, what’s the most important thing she wants Liam to know, this was her answer:

 

“The most important thing I want for my son…is for him to know that education and a career are very important; but the most important thing in this life is to be kind. The most important thing is to care about other people, and be the best person you can be. Money and power get you nowhere, but love and selflessness will get you anywhere you want to be. As corny as this all sounds, I really think being kind is the most important thing you can be. It doesn’t matter what job you have, or where you go to school, the clothes you wear, or the nice things you own if you’re a terrible person. I just hope he learns to love himself, and to love the people around him.”

 

And so, reader…. What’s your most important thing? And how do you stay focused, like Madison does, on that thing as you live your life and build your future?

How Amazing it Feels!

An FSH Participant Story

“Someone forgot to tell me how amazing it feels to accomplish a college degree. Wow! I DID IT!”

These are the opening words to an email from an FSH participant to FSH staff following her college graduation this past December. Barbara’s email goes on to speak beautifully of the values and mission of Family Scholar House: community.

Which is to say, family.

“As I reflected all the way back to dropping out of school in the seventh grade and living on the streets of Los Angeles, I never thought that at the age of 47 I would be a college graduate. While it is true that obtaining my college degree has been the most challenging yet rewarding accomplishment I have ever experienced, it is just a true that no one person accomplishes a college degree on their own. It takes a community! A community of family, a community of friends to encourage, push and support you along the way. I am so grateful for the community that God has blessed me with through my college journey, the words thank you seem so small.”

Barbara’s words encapsulate the Family Scholar House journey at its best and brightest–a journey that no one participant makes alone, and that no staff person or volunteer works for in isolation. The choosing of “Family” in the organization’s name is intentional and vital in understanding the culture of place where folks like Barbara can walk in, determined to secure a more stable future for her family, and succeed. Not once was Barbara alone. She was, every step of the way, surrounded by chosen family.

This is Family Scholar House. Family matters. And when our families are strongest, so is our community as a whole.

Congratulations, Barbara. And thank you for sharing a bit of your story and your tremendous success with us. We’re grateful you are part of our family.

Thankful Hearts

The email came to our Chief Possibility Officer’s inbox one Thursday evening, from a Family Scholar House supporter.

The supporter wanted to express her pleasure at a call she received from a Family Scholar House participant during this year’s Thank-A-Thon.

The Thank-A-Thon is exactly what it sounds like–a phone call blitz from participants to supporters to simply say, “thank you.”

This particular call came to the supporter while she was making Sunday dinner, not a time when she would normally answer the phone. But she expressed how grateful she was to have done so, and how glad she was to be able to connect with the FSH participant. That participant and the supporter’s daughter are, as it happens, both pursuing nursing degrees, and so they were able to connect in that regard as well.

One of the gifts of Family Scholar House is the knowledge that we are, after all, not so very different. As families we want good educations for our children, warm meals with our loved ones on Sunday evenings, and the blessing of human interaction.

The expression of gratitude is important–not because it’s necessary, or a “have-to,” but precisely because of what it did here–created an opportunity for one human being to connect with another.

We come to the end of this year with thankful hearts at Family Scholar House–for our staff, our board and committee members, our volunteers and our donors, as well as our community business partners. But most of all, we are thankful for our families, and for the opportunity they give us to all be family, in whatever way we can.