A month after I lied to that woman was my best friend’s wedding. I played the role of reverend (!) and it was a beautiful celebration. But it was another major life event my mom was missing – the wedding of a woman who was like a second daughter to her. That night, looking around at friends and family and my beautiful 6-month-old daughter in her perfect pink dress, dancing with her daddy, the wedding bells woke me up. I knew what I wanted to do. Frankly, I should say I knew what I HAD to do for my mental and spiritual survival. I was at a breaking point and had a very special little girl who needed me to be better.
The following week (March 30, 2010) on Ava’s six-month birthday and with the help and support of many, we launched Ava’s Grace Scholarship Program. Education was a priority in my home and my mom was an educator – it was a perfect fit and after much research I found that this kind of support for children impacted by parental incarceration was not being provided on any kind of scale anywhere at that time. To date, Ava’s Grace has given or committed more than $600,000 in scholarships to kids of incarcerated parents. We have walked with more than 30 young people on their journey in higher education. And as I post this – 8 years since our founding – I know the purpose in our pain when I see these amazing kids.
I am starting this blog with the hopes that I can help break down the stigma of incarceration. For those who have made mistakes, for those who are returning home and for their families and children. I am starting this blog because I knew that day in 2007 in Bryan, TX, and have been reminded hundreds of times since, that there were and are families suffering more than mine ever could have dreamed of. I am starting this blog because I now realize that we – people who have been directly impacted by our system – are the change we have been waiting for.
With Gratitude and Hope for the Future,
Founder, Ava’s Grace Scholarship Program
Mom – CEO – Justice Warrior