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.”