Family Literacy Friday: Setting the example of persistence and determination

November is National Family Literacy Month®, a time when we celebrate families who are working to better their lives and the tireless efforts of those working in family literacy and family-focused programs. Each Friday in November, we’re sharing an inspirational story of an adult learner who has participated in an NCFL family literacy program. This week, we’re sharing Kenya’s story:

National Family Literacy Month

Before I can tell you where I am, I need to share where I have come from. – Kenya

At the age of 19, Kenya became pregnant with her oldest son Cameron.

“When I found out, I thought my life was over!” she said. “For nine months, I asked myself, ‘What have I done; what am I going to do; how am I going to take care of a little person when I can barely take care of myself?’”

But once she held her baby boy in her arms, she knew that “by any means necessary” was the answer to all of those questions. She became a full-time student at a local community college on top of working. And then she received a phone call that changed everything; Her son’s dad had been shot and killed. The questions returned: How am I going to do this on my own? Where is that extra money going to come from that his dad was sending monthly?

She had no choice but to sacrifice school and get a full-time job at a corporate child development center. There, she received many hours of training and certifications in Child Development, which had been her major at the community college. She earned her Child Development Accreditation, but knew she had a long way to go.

“I wanted my son to see and know that quitting is never an option no matter how hard times get,” she said. “We may have to take a different path than planned but we must never give up.”

Kenya had always wanted to work with children, and being a single mom, she wanted even more to tell other mothers, “If I can do it, you can, too.”

After her second son was born, Kenya signed up for Infant University, a National Center for Families Learning (NCFL) family literacy program at a nonprofit organization called Village of Promise in Huntsville, Alabama. Classes offered included Discipline vs Punishment, Child Safety, CPR, Health and Nutrition, and Brain Development.

“To be honest, I went in with the attitude of ‘I have a child in college. What can they tell me that I don’t already know?’” Kenya said. “But the answer to this was… A LOT!”

She tells new parents in Infant University that they can never know it all. After graduating from Infant University, she realized that every parent needed these classes. So she became a volunteer as a Parent Advocate for Infant University, helping parents get vital and important information. Her passion and commitment for learning and serving others eventually turned into a paid, full-time position for Kenya.

“I had prayed and asked God to open a door of opportunity for me to work part-time, make a few hundred dollars a month, allow me the flexibility to be able to still participate in my kids activities…and, most importantly, an opportunity to help people,” she said.

“Well I gained all of that and more.”

Kenya Epps_1Kenya Epps is the program coordinator for Family Connections and Infant University at Village of Promise in Huntsville, Alabama. She and her husband Kendrick are the parents of 3 amazing, smart, and handsome young men. Her personal motto is: You can’t stop a man or a woman who is determined to “not” quit!

We hope you’ll join the National Family Literacy Month celebration and share your story! Using #familyliteracymonth on Twitter and Facebook, share why family literacy is important to you, how it has impacted your life or those around you, or what you are doing to celebrate National Family Literacy Month. And don’t forget to join us for a Twitter chat at 8pm EST on Thursday, November 30, using #familyliteracymonth.