Guest Blog for Our Stories Matter
By: Julie Richardson
Her face looked very familiar—the warm brown eyes and quick wide smile. The little girl pulling on her arm, asking, “Can we do that one, Mommy?” looked familiar, too, and I have to confess, I stared, for several minutes, trying to figure out where I’d seen this mother/daughter duo before.
I was running a fake tattoo booth at my daughter’s school, rubbing various symbols of Halloween on the arms of elementary-aged boys and girls and their younger siblings. And this mom and daughter, they were in line for a tattoo, and I wanted very much to remember why I knew them.
And then mom caught my eye. And her face broke into an even bigger smile, and she said, “Julie, right?” And at the same time we both exclaimed, “Family Scholar House!” as we exchanged warm hugs and introduced our daughters to each other. And then I called her by name, her and her daughter both, their identities having finally been called up from my memory.
I was privileged to be an employee of FSH for a couple of years, and during that time, this woman and her then-infant daughter were residents. I saw them often. And now—now mom has a college degree and a fabulous job and her daughter is a kindergartener in the same school where my daughter is in second grade.
Less than a week later, a similar experience occurred as I read through the roster of my daughter’s Brownie troop—an address on there, I knew it as an address associated with an FSH community—and I smiled, grateful that one of the little girls bouncing around and giggling (I’ve no idea which one, and don’t need to) was another FSH success story—integrated into the community seamlessly and after what any little girl is after—security, fun, friendship and growth.
The thing about Family Scholar House is that within the walls of its various offices, educational rooms and resident apartments are single-parent scholars, men and women, who have often been labeled, in one way or another, by society. They’ve been judged for having been homeless. For fighting addiction. For being victims of abuse. For not “knowing better” than to get themselves into difficult circumstances.
The truth is that the parents of FSH, and their children, are some of the bravest, most resilient people you’ll ever meet. And that I’ve been able to walk alongside even a few of them, and even for a short time, has been one of the great honors of my life.
You see, they are just like you and me, whatever labels we want to ascribe to them. Like you and me, they want their children to be safe and healthy; they have dreams and goals and aspirations; they have skills and gifts and talents. They want Brownie troops and school carnivals and family vacations. They want long sunny days at the park and family meals. Their dreams, their families, their ways of being—they may not look like yours or mine, but they are no less important, no less worth being part of. And for every FSH scholar/resident who triumphs over what life has handed him or her, our entire community is stronger, better, more complete.
I’m so proud to know that these FSH families are everywhere, all over this city and this state that I call home, doing their thing and living their lives and offering to the world the rich experience they all share for having made the FSH journey in the first place.
We’re all better for it.