Kenya and Kendell’s Story

Dear Friend,

When you come across people that may not be your blood family, but truly have a heart to care, it makes your world turn.

I moved to St. Louis from Atlanta to live with my grandma when I was 15. My dad was locked up for murder, and my mom, she was on drugs. I’d hear people talking about their mom, their dad, and I couldn’t really relate. I was just trying to figure out life. I didn’t know anything, I didn’t know anybody.

I went to Roosevelt High School, and then I went to Forest Park Community College after that. I didn’t know what I wanted to do and then I felt I wasn’t prepared enough for school, so it was really a challenge trying to keep up. I was trying to stay focused, but also trying to keep a roof over my head. I was always in survival mode.

When I had Kendell, it was a blessing because they had actually told me I couldn’t have kids. I was 29. I wanted that family that I never had. Before Kendell came along, I was like, “I don’t know what my purpose is,” but when she got here, I found it real fast.

Being a parent, it’s just the best feeling in the world to have somebody that loves you, you know what I’m saying? I didn’t care how much I had to work, how much I had to do, how many different jobs I had to pick up. I knew that I was going to do any and everything I had to do for my daughter.

Kendell went to nine early childhood centers before she got to Cornerstone, that’s how bad it was. I did my homework, but there wasn’t much available that we could afford. The places she went, they were understaffed, unorganized, no structure, no lesson plans. They just let the kids run around and play, and there were injuries. She was potty trained at home but as soon as she would get to the center, they would say, “We need pampers.” I worked with her to learn her colors, I knew what she needed help with, and I could tell they weren’t doing that.

It worried me about the other centers, that if Kendell stayed, she would struggle when she got to kindergarten. It was just a lot, and I was like, “Yeah, I got to do something different.”

It’s already hard to trust people with your kids. So, it was really hard for me to relax because I had these experiences with all these other centers. But as soon as Kendell went to Cornerstone, within the first week, they were like, “She’s potty trained.” I knew it! At the time, Kendell was two and a half.

Finally, at Cornerstone, I felt relieved because this was a center that was on top of it.

We were able to engage with the teachers and talk to them, and Kendell loved them. They kept me updated on how she was doing throughout the day. The weekly bread from Bread Co, that helped out — if you don’t have much for groceries that week, that’s a meal. For the holidays, somebody adopted us. One of the questions they asked was, “What do you want?” and I said, “You could get Kendell some socks and shirts, some books.” And they were like, yes, but we’re also going to do something for you, what do you want?” And they helped me out with a utility bill. Because of that, I got to be at home on a weekend. I don’t think people realize how amazing those things are to help people like me. I work seven days a week, I often go weeks without a day off. That was a blessing. That was one of the best gifts that I’ve ever gotten.

I’m 35 this year, and we’re just in a good place, you know? When I had Kendell, I was a direct care aid. And now I’m a secretary. My eight-year anniversary with my employer is coming up. I would’ve never seen myself as a homeowner, and my one-year anniversary for purchasing my house was in July. After graduating from Cornerstone in August, Kendell started Kindergarten on scholarship at Tower Grove Christian Academy. Kendell’s not struggling at all, in fact, she has straight A’s! And she loves every bit about school. So, I’m excited about that.

You don’t want your kids to have the same struggle you have. That’s why I’m fighting so hard to do these things that I didn’t ever think I could do. I just want to make sure my daughter doesn’t have to worry because mommy is going to take care of her. I’m going to figure this life out. I don’t have all the answers, but I can find them.

My dream for Kendell is to get a good education and succeed in life. I’m not going to be here forever, so I need her to be stable. I want her to be successful and have a passion for something, and for that to be her career path. I want her to have a family.

I am proud and happy that I’ve gotten us this far because when I think back, my thought process couldn’t even think this far into the future of what was possible. I’m just blessed, and a lot of these things wouldn’t be possible if it wasn’t for places like Cornerstone, for people donating to education for kids like Kendell.

I thank the Lord that we have these people that are in the position to give. Thank you for helping me, because I don’t know how I would’ve been able to make all this happen if you didn’t.

~ Kenya

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