MEET THE PARENTS
Danielle’s story gave me a huge dose of inspiration, reminding me that the best choice isn’t always the most popular choice. Danielle is a mother of five, who opened up about her decision to hold back each of her three school-aged children when they reached the 2nd or 3rd grade. I’ve had a few conversations with parents that reflected on whether having their child repeat a grade of schooling would have prevented them from struggling through following years. Lack of understanding, shame, and embarrassment are obvious reasons for hesitation to make such a choice, but for Danielle, her children’s well-being made the difficult decision much easier. Since then, she’s seen a significant and positive change in her children, including her two daughters Alaya, age 11, and Danika Rae, age 9, who are enjoying their second year of Success After 6. And Danielle is deservingly proud of her oldest child, her son Daveon, who’s now 15. After being held back in the 3rd grade, Daveon is now excelling as a student at Youngstown Early College, the district’s competitive college-prep program where students are eligible to earn enough college credits to graduate high school with an associate’s degree.
Listen as Danielle shares how making the best choices for her children coupled with instilling a “no days off” mindset pays off. - Tara Walker Pollock
I am so grateful to each parent that has participated with this podcast thus far, because each of them have been so transparent and open to telling their stories. Rilonda’s story, or Ro as she’s known to many, is no different; however, hearing Ro’s story was particularly humbling for me, because the podcast you’re about to hear was my first time learning just what she’s experienced. And it’s not because she’s unwilling to share - Ro is very transparent and willing to talk about what she’s been through in efforts to show others they can choose to live on the brighter side of the pain they’ve seen. Ro and I have never before had the opportunity to sit down one-on-one to learn more about each other. Our conversation reminded me that, especially when I haven’t taken the time to genuinely get to know someone, it is crucial that I don’t: assume to understand why people make the choices they do, to have all the answers, or to think of myself more highly than I ought to and shun those whose life looks much different than mine. Ro’s life has been no walk in the park, but I am humbled by her choice to be unselfish, giving and loving, in spite of her past. I often explain the Youngstown Parent Storytellers Project as an opportunity for parents to tell their Youngstown story, not the one everyone thinks they may know.
Please listen to Part One of my conversation with “Miss Ro,” and stay tuned for Part Two - Tara Walker-Pollock
Getting to know Tanisha McMullen is like meeting the wisest big sister or auntie you could ever imagine. And to witness the genuine connections she has with nearly everyone she comes in contact with, you understand why she’s so committed to helping others though she’s lived a life that might have left many others ready to throw in the towel. Bouts with ADHD, bipolar disorder, and even a suicide attempt are just a few of the experiences she’s helped her children overcome. After learning to manage those challenges with her children, Tanisha now possesses the impeccable skills of not only calming a child in the midst of an “uncontrollable” moment, but she also relates extremely well to parents struggling with the reality of their child’s special needs.
Listen as Tanisha shares valuable words of wisdom on this edition of the Youngstown Parent Storytellers Project. - Tara Walker-Pollock
When I started as a Success After 6 Coordinator in June 2016, I did not know any of the families that had expressed interest in the program coming to Taft Elementary that fall. So to meet them face-to-face, I canvassed the Taft neighborhood, I met parents at the library, in parking lots, and I was invited into their homes. Brandie Richard's family, including her two daughters Autumn and Bianca, was one of those who invited me to their home, and I immediately felt welcomed. The Richards became one of those families you dream of where they are literally just a phone call or text away. The entire family shows up and volunteers for every Success After 6 event, and they (including the kids!) give some of the best hugs in the world. Bianca, now 8, and Autumn, now 10, are enjoying their second year of Success After 6, while Brandie and her mother Roberta have even joined our staff as Success After 6 Champions.
In this podcast episode I sit down with Brandie to talk about how becoming a teen mom fueled her to get to where she is today. - Tara Walker-Pollock
I had a few spots left for Success After 6 on the first day of school, and I remember meeting the adorably spunky Daja Venable, as she made her entrance into Taft Elementary for her first day of kindergarten. Mom Domonique signed Daja and her big brother Anthony up for Success After 6 that day, and I enjoyed getting to know the children and "Daja's Mom", as Domonique affectionately became known at the UW office. But my most memorable moment about Domonique is seeing her become a true life example that Success After 6 is so much more than just another after school program. Domonique attended our 2nd Annual Mothers United Spring Social last April, an event we host to encourage and empower the women in our Success After 6 students' lives. On the event feedback card attendees turned in before leaving, Domonique wrote how the event inspired her to continue pursuing her goal of starting her own business. A few months later, Domonique was at our office passing out official business cards and on social media recruiting volunteers to join her business's team for our biggest community volunteer effort of the year, Day of Caring.
Hear how a hardworking, engaged mom of 3 came full circle to achieve the goal of entrepreneurship. - Tara Walker Pollock