Ali Edelstein is an EducationUSA advisor and Fulbright program manager in Brussels, Belgium. She recently inquired about ways to volunteer her time for Family Scholar House from abroad.
Living and working outside of the United States makes you appreciate what we have in the land that we call home. Louisville was recently recognized by Lonely Planet as the number one U.S. city to visit during 2013; the well-known travel site called the city “a lively, offbeat cultural mecca on the Ohio River.” Louisville is finally becoming recognized for the civic engagement and support for local businesses that make it a great place to live.
Recently, I discovered a product of Louisville that I could not put down. Underwired is a magazine for women, by women, in the local area. It features empowering essays on monthly topics and highlights women making a change in the community. While I was home from Belgium on winter break, I picked up the December issue of Underwired and read about Family Scholar House.
I immediately felt the urge to get involved. Many structures exist to help young single parents complete high school, but few empower them to earn a college degree. For these individuals with pre-supposed futures and limited financial options, the message is often conveyed that, for them, “this is enough.” While earning a high school degree as a young, single parent is a tremendous accomplishment not to be overlooked, there is also a huge compliment to be paid to organizations like Family Scholar House which look even further into the future, telling participants they don’t have to be satisfied with minimum wage jobs and high school degrees.
As a graduate of Sacred Heart Academy, where community service is mandatory, I learned it is part of a fulfilling life to serve others using the talents you have. Since I hail from Kentucky and work in higher education, I knew I could help Family Scholar House. I offered to order inspirational quote posters for participants’ apartments and to serve as an e-mail mentor for participants looking to continue their higher education, through internships and studies in the United States or abroad.
People always think I landed my dream job in Europe by going to a big name university or coming from a wealthy situation to begin with, but neither of those circumstances are true. The solitary truth is that I surrounded myself by positive people who supported my aspirations, then asked all the questions and seized all the opportunities that I could.
My advice to Family Scholar House participants and to Louisvillians considering volunteering there is this: always help others – however you can, whenever you can. No matter your situation, you will always have God-given talents that may seem small to you, but may have a huge impact on the life and dreams of someone else.