Tell be about your early beginnings. I am the fourth of my mother’s 5 children. Her first and second child had the same father. The rest of us had different Dads. She was aged 16 when she had her first baby and aged 23 when she had me. My younger sister came along later. Mom raised us kids on her own, she never married.
Looking back life was rough growing up, we were very poor. Mom worked mostly as a cashier and as a seamstress. My Dad was around but not involved. He was born in the deep south - Mississippi. His mother was shot when he was aged 9 and his siblings raised him. I have 2 more siblings on his side. I see my Dad regularly now and we have a good relationship.
I was the first child in my family to graduate High School. My mother and my grandmother dropped out and had babies – I was the first in my generation to break that cycle. I received my Associates at Donnelly College and my Bachelors in Social Work from Park University. In 2012, I graduated from KU with my Masters in Social Work. My family is not big on education and wanted me out to go out to work. I held the ground for my dream and I supported myself through College. I’ve always been a worker! With study, practicum and full time work, I worked over 80 hours a week for a long time. I was determined and did what I had to do to pay the bills and get through college.
How did you come to work for Reconciliation Services? Shaleese, one of the girls I graduated with, completed her internship at RS. As part of her graduation project she had to make a grant proposal for a women’s program. She had a vision to help women who had gone through traumatic experiences. The Leadership at RS liked her vision and helped to make the proposal ready for a real-time grant proposal. Her work was submitted to Jackson Health Mental Levy and it was approved in 2011. RS was ready to begin the women’s therapy program and they needed additional help. Shaleese asked me to interview for position of Group Facilitator.
Families living in urban poverty often encounter multiple traumas over many years. We come alongside our vulnerable clients with the companionship, tools, and skills necessary to help them discover their strengths and to go forward. Trauma impacts the mind, the body, the emotions—the whole person. It affects the way people see the world, themselves and their relationships with others. There is often a lot of fear, hyper-vigilance and very little ability to trust. Some can’t go outside and most have no filters to process emotions. We have helped several hundred women in the last few years. Do read the stories of Cheritta, Lilly and Nora, women who have graduated the SnAP program in the last year to see the difference in their lives.
We’ve now been given an approved grant for a Men’s Group Therapy Program. There are many men of different ages who are also suffering from trauma and depression. We will be giving them tools to make changes and progress toward self-sufficiency. The Health Care Foundation has teemed up with us to offer men these services.
What are your personal dreams? My dreams are for my career. I want to continue to work toward being the best in my field. I want to use my skills, talents and gifts to help others move forward with focus, strength and clarity. I have a passion to work with hurting people. People who have gone through great loss and trauma. Helping people to gain tools and skills to make positive life changes brings me alive!
If you had one thing to share from what you’ve learned, what would it be? People will try and force upon you who they think you should be or what they think you should do. I am continuing to learn how to resist this and to summon my courage and my faith in God to help me carve my own path. We are all of great worth, believe in yourself and in God who is with you to strengthen you and help you achieve freedom!