Thanks, theGrio, for featuring our story! -Jessica.
Happy New Year, dear tumblr!
Today we added a publicist/communications director to the H2H team, to help us spread the word so we can continue to help other homeless kids get an education and change their future. It’s a rather big step, so I’ve been reflecting on how far we’ve come, and found this post.
I love this blog so much. If you have a moment, revisit it with me.
This Saturday in early August was one great adventure of a day for James and me. #HomelessToHoward was just four days old. We ate pizza with a generous donor who agreed to share our story with his generous friends, and prepared for our first media interview, with Rhonesha Byng of Huffington Post. James met my puppy Lucy, and tasted gelato for the first time, and we took an iconic “Trayvon” photo. I gave James the startup money that my friends and family had gifted to James just a month earlier…before the Parent Plus loans were denied, just because they believed in him.
Then we headed back to his home, and I met James’s family for the first time. I was relieved to discover that his mother didn’t resent me, and was in fact happy I’d taken an interest in her son. And when they were appalled that I expected her to resent my work with James, I was displeased to discover another negative effect of my childhood, where such a reaction was the norm.
We realized we had solved his immediate financial problems, and that things might get much, much bigger than either of us had expected. We realized that we might have a movement on our hands.
It’s not even six months later, and sure enough…we do have a movement on our hands, and a non-profit to go with it. Most importantly, James just completed his first semester at one of the country’s most prestigious universities! I’m so grateful for the opportunity to volunteer at the Union Rescue Mission’s Mondays at the Mission at the very moment that James found the courage to ask for help. I’m so grateful that James allowed me to share his story with the world, and that the world decided to help him reach his goals. Thanks, everyone…you did this for one heck of a deserving kid…and I should let you know that I’m currently identifying more deserving kids, so we can do it again.
Thanks James, and thank each of you for every share, word of encouragement, and penny that you shared with him. We won’t waste the opportunity, and can’t wait to make lasting changes in this country.
All best in 2014!
Our cause appears to be reaching a tipping point: in just 100 hours or so, we’ve raised over $10,000 for James’s education. VICTORY IS NEAR for my young friend, who brought me to tears today when he told the Huffington Post that he thinks of me as a big sister. I always wanted a little brother! :)
Our work has only just begun. Our lives are forever changed, and we have the power to change others…but we need your help!
CSU alum Jessica Sutherland crowdfunds a college dream
Jessica Sutherland was volunteering at the Union Rescue Mission, a homeless shelter in Los Angeles, when she overheard James Ward talking about how he was accepted into Howard University but couldn’t afford the tuition, even with scholarships and grants.
Sutherland, a Cleveland State University alumna, decided to help. In August, she launched Homeless To Howard, an online fund-raising campaign to send Ward to college. Widespread media coverage ensued, including an appearance on “Ellen” (Sutherland and Ward are seen here with host Ellen Degeneres). Within one week, enough donations came in to pay for Ward’s freshman year.
Thanks to Cleveland State University for the great article, and to everyone who’s helped shed light on the #homelesstohoward project! As we move forward in helping other students like James, we must never forget our roots!
Things that matter. Pass ‘em on.
Thanks to Upworthy for sharing our story! Our work isn’t done yet!