Not quite like that TV show….

“It sure isn’t The Cosby Show,” he says, a wry grin accompanying the slow shaking of his head, “that’s what I grew up seeing as the ideal.  But my life–it isn’t like that.”

And it isn’t.  At forty years old he’s a single dad to an almost two-year old girl.  And, like all Family Scholar House residential participants, a full-time college student.  He’s majoring in Human Services, “I want to help people.  I think probably youth who are at-risk.  Counseling, maybe.”  The way he says it–deep voice speaking softly, warm personality so obviously sincere–you get the feeling that any youth who come in contact with Travis will be awfully lucky to have him as mentor and advocate.  You feel like he’ll really make a difference.

It didn’t occur to him that his job at a local manufacturing and assembly plant wouldn’t work out.  Business was good–he had a steady paycheck giving him a comfortable lifestyle, health insurance, and friends and family around.  He was well into his mid-thirties and so far not having a college degree hadn’t posed a problem.

And then he got a phone call from an old girlfriend.  She was pregnant, and a strong possibility existed that the child was his.  The next few months were difficult ones for him, and for the woman who would eventually deliver his daughter.  His job got lost in a company buy-out and reorganization, and finding other employment with sufficient pay and comparable benefits proved impossible.  Eventually, he resigned himself to drawing unemployment and trying to go to school.

In the meantime, his daughter’s mother was battling addiction–a battle that eventually lead to his daughter being born inside the walls of a prison.  When he learned that the baby was his, he sought full custody, “I embraced the opportunity to have a child,” he says, and began the work of trying to balance work, education and single fatherhood.  Decent and affordable housing proved difficult.  Making ends meet proved difficult.  It all proved very, very difficult.  But Travis was determined.

And then one day a friend and classmate at school–a single mom–told him about the place supporting her as she worked towards a self-sufficient and wide-open future for her own little family. Travis called Family Scholar House at her suggestion, and several months later found at FSH the kind of support, the kind of home, the kind of community that he and his daughter were in such great need of.

He prays for his daughter’s mom regularly.  Does his best to surround his daughter with nurturing care and dependable support. He worries that she’ll miss out by not having both her parents around.  He wants for her a balanced and fulfilled life. If you ask him what his favorite thing to do with his daughter is he’ll tell you, “Oh, making her talk!  Every time she learns a new word, it’s amazing!”

And he’ll tell you how thankful he is for places like FSH, so thankful that he’s committed his own life to being one of service.  He’ll pay it forward, to be sure.  And he’ll do it in such a way that the ripples of the grace granted him, will grace the lives of many others.

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