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Thursday, September 3, 2020

LOUISVILLE, KY—Each year since its inception in 1995, Family Scholar House (FSH) has served disadvantaged residential and nonresidential single moms, dads and their children with a comprehensive, holistic continuum of care that meets them where they are and empowers them toward their educational, career and family goals. All of these individuals and families have experienced poverty, unstable housing and most often, domestic violence.

Those who come to FSH often rise above the challenging circumstances they’ve been dealt, and all of them deserve to be recognized. This story that defines us is about Janine (need last name), an FSH alumni who overcame almost unimaginable odds to become the successful young woman and mother she is today.

From the time she was 7 years old Janine says she felt, “It was me against the world.” That dreaded feeling would make itself crystal clear a few years later when she came home one day to find that she didn’t have a home anymore. “I didn’t know what eviction was,” Janine says.

After that day, however, she knew, and she remembers to this day the devastation of seeing the tangible, precious items – all of her belongings, in essence her entire childhood— thrown into a dumpster. She even remembers the brand name of the dumpster: Rumpke.

Throughout her youth reading was the mechanism which helped Janine cope, before she left the unstable home life of two parents grappling with substance abuse to live with her grandparents. As she grew older she found further inspiration and solace in the words she voraciously read. She loved studying English in school and one day found something that truly spoke to her and would stay with her throughout the difficult situations in which she lived. She evokes the powerful words and imagery of poet/rapper Tupac Shakur when she describes herself as “the rose that grew from a crack in the concrete,” one that, as he wrote, “learned to walk without feet and learned to breathe by keeping her dreams.”

Indeed the world in which Janine lived as a child to an adolescent often seemed like that concrete. But as the poem promised, there were roses for her to find and be cultivated.

There were few things to hope for but she did have dreams, number one “To become a phenomenal, admirable Jefferson County Public Schools teacher,” as she states. Both her mother and great-grandmother were once teachers and her dream, which she has indeed make come true speaks to her determination and tenacity during even the hardest times.

In 2017 Janine graduated with a bachelor’s degree in elementary school education. “Magna cum laude,” she proudly says with a lilt in her voice. And while she worked hard for the degree she also immersed herself in everything education-oriented she could: President, Student-Parent Association; Mentor, Students for Students; Mentor, Seneca Mentoring Project; and Minority Teachers Recruitment Project Recipient. And now, she is beyond thrilled to be a teacher at Maupin Elementary School, truly a dream come true.

But her professional life, as important as it is, isn’t nearly as meaningful to Janine as her personal life as the mother of four-year-old twins, a boy and a girl). They are her most cherished company in her personal and professional conquests and the primary reason she has become the woman she is today. As she proudly says, “I wouldn’t be the person I am without them.”