The moment London Martin met Courtney Cooper, she knew it was no coincidence.
“Everything happens for a reason,” London said. “I knew there was a reason God placed her in my life.”
Courtney, Buckner Project HOPES parent educator, first met London in Beaumont, Texas, at the bank London was working at. London and Courtney gradually started having conversations about their children and from there, Courtney had the opportunity to introduce London to the Project HOPES program.
Through regular home visits and monthly group meetings, Project HOPES supports parents and promotes healthy families through education and encouragement.
“Courtney played a huge role in everything,” London said. “She showed me that education is really a big part of parenting. Little things like reading and writing with my daughter have made a big difference in her behavior.”
Before London’s daughter came into her life, she did not have the same attitude on education.
“I went to [Prairie View A&M University] for four years, but I didn’t graduate,” London said. “I wasn’t focused. I wasn’t used to having all that freedom and I never had anyone there to tell me how to get through school. So, I decided to leave school and move back home.”
London was a first-generation college student and didn’t have the guidance she needed to get her through school. That all changed when her daughter was born.
“My daughter was my biggest motivation,” London said. “When my daughter turned two, I decided to go back to school. I had to go back to school to support my daughter. When she gets older, I can’t tell her to go to school if I didn’t.”
Although it wasn’t easy, London did not give up. She went through many obstacles, but Courtney was there for her along the way.
“When I would go do my visits with her, I would always pray with her and her daughter because of all the stress she was going through,” Courtney said. “I would always tell her, ‘Don’t give up because you’re a strong woman and you’re a role model to your daughter.’”
During visits, Courtney did curriculum based activities with London and her daughter. She taught London how to interact with her daughter and how to persevere in hard times. Courtney also helped London with time management and how to use a planner.
With time management being one of her biggest obstacles this year, Project HOPES helped London overcome her struggle.
“She kept at it and I continued to encourage her and help her as much as I could,” Courtney said. “Now she’s graduated with her bachelor’s degree and she is going back to school in the fall to get her master’s degree.”
Not only did London graduate, but she finished with honors.
“Everything happens for a reason,” London said. “If you work hard, you will be successful no matter what. This accomplishment makes me want to strive for more and be a model for single parents and show them that it is possible.”
Written by Odufa Atsegbua, a summer intern with Buckner Communications.