Today is National Single Parent Day, and at Buckner International, we are so honored to have met and worked with so many amazing single parents through the Buckner Family Pathways™ program. Family Pathways is designed to help single parents in crisis who need to care for their children and determine next steps for their family’s future. They receive encouragement, counseling, financial and parent classes and other help to overcome barriers that prevent self-sufficiency, such as education, career prospects and life skills.
Today, we want to share the story of LaSherrell Hayes, a single mom graduate of Family Pathways. She has had to overcome many challenges as a young parent, but she worked hard and today she is a successful teacher, who recently purchased her own home. The program wasn’t always easy, she said, but following it has prepared her to be more self-sufficient.
LaSherrell tells her story of how she came to Family Pathways and what the program taught her.
My circumstances weren’t ideal at the time I needed help from Buckner. I was lost and unstable as a single parent. I was trying to maintain 18 credit hours as a student in college and work to support my daughter. When I found out I was pregnant with my daughter, I was devastated. I was working three jobs and going to school. I could not fathom being a single parent, and I was afraid to fail.
I felt honored God loved me so much he would bless me and trust me to be a steward of his unborn child during the midst of my sin, but I was so disappointed in myself initially. I did not have a college degree, full-time career, or husband.
My biggest problem was not having mental, physical and emotional stability. I struggled with this from the time my baby was born. Not only was I dealing with great loss, but I felt hopeless with my inconsistent living situations. I was severely depressed because I had a child who depended on me solely, and I did not have a stable home for us.
At this point, I was merely existing. I had unexplained, broken relationships, closed doors, and defeat upon me. I have always had a relationship with God, but I began to lose hope during that moment in my life.
I had no clue Buckner existed. I just happen to be in the right place at the right time. My school, El Centro Community College, was hosting a community event where Buckner Family Pathways had a table set up.
I was hesitant to walk up to the table, but that moment changed my life forever! I was so kindly greeted and I told her all of my circumstances. She told me, “I was a perfect candidate for Buckner Family Pathways.” After being through so much, I was worried this was not going to go well, but, I couldn't have been more wrong.
I moved into the Family Pathways apartments a few days before Thanksgiving. I was so happy. I was finally at peace.
The program requirements were tough sometimes. We were expected to come to monthly meetings, attend financial workshops, attend therapy sessions, participate in monthly walkthroughs in our apartments, maintain a certain G.P.A, start and grow a savings account, volunteer in the community, and have individual monthly meetings with our case manager. We were also encouraged to attend Bible studies. It was overwhelming, but it was worth it.
I benefited from multiple programs and services while I was there. I was recipient of academic scholarships, Thanksgiving dinner giveaways, free mental health services, oil changes and car maintenance (an awesome experience), trips to Camp Buckner (some of the best moments of our lives), Buckner’s graduation ceremony, Taylor Swift concert tickets (my baby still talks about that concert, and it was two years ago), Mother’s Day appreciation, birthday packages for my baby, complete Christmas experience (gifts for my baby, baked goods, household essentials, lunch, wrapping party, prayer partner, a great encouraging message), and a very supportive committee of beautiful, influential and spiritual women/donors. The list could go on and on.
Buckner Family Pathways took the stress away from so many things. I began to heal and grow as a person, mother and student. My baby and I both benefited from mental services. Buckner catered to the needs of our whole individual beings.
Buckner literally woke me up. I am so much better because I chose to submit and surrender to God’s will over mine in my desperation, depression and weakest moments. I chose Buckner, as afraid as I was, because I knew in my weakness, God was strong. I learned balance there. Maintaining balance is still a struggle, but it is much easier with a blueprint.
Honestly, I was just as afraid to leave Buckner as I was coming into Buckner. I gained a sense of security there. I really gained an unforgettable family and community there.
I was so apprehensive to leave the program because I thought I would fail without them, but they believed in me so much. I praised God that we were required to save at Buckner because I was prepared to pay a large deposit on our new apartment without hesitation. I finished student-teaching and received my diploma from the University of North Texas at Dallas in May 2020.
One day in July while I was sitting on the porch, my previous assistant principal from student-teaching called me to ask if I already had a job. I did not. She practically offered me a job on the spot contingent upon my interview. I received a job offer less than five minutes after my interview.
I then began searching for houses with a realtor. Things were scary, but I believe God had already worked it out. I signed for my very first home Mother’s Day weekend 2021 because I had and remembered the blueprint from Family Pathways.
Things are not perfect, and God promised afflictions throughout life. I gracefully accept them because I now understand who I am and whose I am.