Think back to the age when you believed you could do anything. The age you saw the world the way you wanted to. The age everyone around you tried to protect you from what was outside.
While we all come from different cities, communities, and homes, we all share the experience of childhood. We are all made up of many different experiences that shape who we will eventually become.
But these experiences do not define us.
Taylor is 8. After facing difficulties at home as a child, Taylor is sent to live with her father and sister. Despite her beginnings, the little girl feels hopeful about her future.
Taylor is 17. Family life has continued to be chaotic for the young woman. After facing hardships at home with her father and sister, Taylor can no longer attend school.
Taylor is 31. She often finds herself becoming frustrated when helping her young daughter with her homework. When she looks at her daughter, she thinks back to her own childhood. She wants to do better for both of them, but does not know what steps she needs to take.
Taylor is 35. As she walks across the stage, about to receive her hard-earned high school equivalency certificate, she is greeted with familiar smiles. Her daughter beams at her from the front row as she makes her way to the microphone to begin her graduation speech, a childhood dream fulfilled.
"Everyone in this room dedicates their lives, providing hope to make this possible," Taylor said. "You believed in me even when I didn’t believe in myself. But thanks to you, now I do--I believe in me!"
Scared and timid, Taylor first walked into the Literacy Coalition's Learning Center last summer. Our Learning Center provides case management services along with a robust adult education program, offering high school equivalency exam preparation and job readiness classes. Taylor signed up for job readiness classes, where she built her resume and honed her interviewing skills. In three and a half months, she improved her reading by three grade levels. During that time, her math skills jumped from sixth to twelfth grade level.
"What takes an average student years of hard work took Taylor only six months," said Vernelle Elliot, high school equivalency instructor. "That is what I call resilience and determination!"
Our social worker referred her to our social and emotional support services, offering direct assistance for transportation, groceries and utilities, so she could focus on her school.
Taylor is now on her way to Austin Community College to continue her education. Her long-term goal is to become a substance abuse counselor.
Though we are made of up many different experiences that shape who we will eventually become, it is our response to these experiences that shape who we are.
At the Literacy Coalition, we commit to tirelessly helping those like Taylor who strive daily to create a better life for themselves and their family.