My Five Daughters
Stacy remembers pulling up to Gracewood with three of her daughters (Jillian, 15, Jacquelyn, 13, and Samantha, 10) in a beat-up pickup truck, carrying only her baggage of shame, failure and inadequacy.
As a single mom of five girls (two of whom were already on their own) and recently divorced, Stacy found herself in the summer of 2004 at a local women’s shelter in Houston with her allotted time to stay almost up.
“There were just so many programs I didn’t qualify for, either because I had a job, or too many children, or because I didn’t have an addiction,” said Stacy. “I was so desperate and willing to do anything to get help. That’s when I found Gracewood.”
Before she arrived at Gracewood, Stacy knew she loved her children and desired to be a good mom, but simply lacked the skills to cope with life. She had moved from place to place, making poor decisions, especially in the area of relationships.
“Gracewood is perfect because they tailor their program to each individual mom. They simply gave me the framework, but allowed me the freedom to decide who I wanted to be,” said Stacy.
With what Stacy describes as awesome counseling and a nonjudgmental, loving atmosphere, she was able to create short-term and long-term goals for success. After nine months of saving and budgeting, Stacy was financially independent and able to move her girls into their own apartment and purchase a new vehicle. She also allowed Gracewood to guide her in the process of transforming her approach to parenting.
“Every mom at Gracewood raised her children differently. I was able to take the things I liked and the things I didn’t and figure out what I really wanted my parenting to look like,” said Stacy.
Since leaving Gracewood, Stacy and her girls have been able to take the tools they were given there and live out the goals they set.
Stacy is now married to a wonderful man and living out a healthy marriage while working as an emergency dispatcher in Brenham. She is scheduled to graduate with a degree in sociology from Prairie View A&M University in December 2012 and plans to go on to complete a master’s degree in social psychology.
Samantha, Stacy’s youngest daughter, was recently accepted to Texas A&M University and given the Horatio Alger Award, a $20,000 matching scholarship given for “education in spite of adversity,” awarded to only 104 students nationwide.
Samantha plans to receive her degree in the College of Geosciences, because she knows she has to get an education and a job she enjoys so she can “always pay the light bill.”
“It’s not exactly the lesson a mother wants to impart to her child, but Gracewood not only made an impression on me, but also on my girls, especially in the importance of financial independence,” said Stacy.
Joan Marie, Stacy’s second oldest daughter, also received the same scholarship and is in the process of getting her masters degree in mathematics, while Stacy’s second youngest daughter, Jacquelyn, is currently attending Prairie View A&M.
Jillian, Stacy’s middle daughter is attending Austin Community College and working in Austin, while Jamie, the oldest, works as a design artist in Taylor, Texas.
“Gracewood’s goal is not only to give mothers tools for success, but to impact their children and stop the cycle of crisis and poverty with the next generation,” said Debbie Rippstein, Executive Director of Gracewood.
“We will always look back at our time at Gracewood with complete gratitude. They took us where we were and got us to where we wanted to be,” said Stacy. “Gracewood is a wonderful, safe place to become whole, not only as individuals, but as a family, a place for which we will always be thankful.”