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"I'm Becoming Something for Them"

Eight years ago, Amber was a seventeen-year-old single mother, precariously housed in a motel with her baby. She understood how important education would be for her future, but at the time her only choice was to work. She took double shifts at McDonald’s so that she could save up for an apartment for herself and her daughter. She attempted to add GED classes, but between her work schedule and parenting responsibilities, she could not attend classes on a set schedule.

Today, Amber has three children, and the youngest has special needs. She is a determined, attentive, and loving mother—and the children are thriving. Amber’s own mother passed away when she was young, so she is determined to give her children everything that she herself missed. Every decision she makes is for her them. “I’m becoming something for them,” she says

Recently, Amber decided to attempt the GED again. She did not feel confident, especially about writing an essay, so her Care Team from JCC Social Services referred her to Literacy for Life. She was matched with volunteer tutor Kathy Hampton-Clarke. Kathy equipped Amber with the tools she needed for the essay and also offered flexible scheduling so that Amber could work around her children’s needs. Kathy also provided constant encouragement. “Kathy supported and uplifted me,” says Amber, “and I knew I was ready.” In March, Amber successfully obtained her GED, and now she is exploring career options with Literacy for Life’s career coach.

Amber’s tutor and Care Team cannot say enough about her. “Amber was extremely motivated and determined to succeed in spite of some personal challenges,” says tutor Kathy. “And she did it!”

Care Team Coordinator Courtney Thomas reflects that “Amber is living proof that the human spirit is incredibly resilient. With a strong sense of purpose, and with the healthy support of others, it IS possible to continue in one’s endeavors against all of the odds. Amber is a wonderful role model to her children and others.”

Paris Little, also of the JCC Care Team, finds personal inspiration in Amber’s story. “Being a social worker,” she says, “I am often the person who inspires others, but Amber has inspired me! She has inspired me to ‘keep pushing’ no matter the hurdles life presents. I am proud to be associated with such a self-determined, persevering woman. Thank you, Amber, for motivating me and all the other women who strive to be great and defy the odds!”

Amber is humbled by the support she has received, but also justly proud of her accomplishment and hopeful about her future. “A lot of people doubted me and wrote me off,” she says. “I’ve come so far, and I’m still going. I couldn’t have done this without the support of Ms. Rosemary and the Care Team, as well as Ms. Mary Lynch, her Literacy for Life colleagues, and my tutor.”

She adds, “What I would say to others is, no matter what your hardships are, or what anyone says, never give up!

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