After graduating high school, Tasha attended a Bible college for a year before returning home to Tahlequah, Oklahoma. She tried to make it on her own as a waitress but was barely making ends meet. When her car broke down, the short commute to work became a 20 minute walk each way. When bad ice storms swept through town, she lost her income and her house. That’s when she came to the United Methodist Children’s Home. Five years later, she is the reigning Miss NSU, a servant leader in the community, and in May will be the first person from her family to graduate college.
“Breaking the norm was hard,” Tasha explains, “but now my parents are in awe.”
Through the Independent Living Program, Tasha was provided the housing and support she needed to attend college and become a productive, independent member of society. “The things kids usually find at home, we find here.” When Tasha applied to college, it was a staff member from the Children’s Home who helped her fill out the FAFSA and complete the application. After she was admitted, it was a staff member who went with her to freshmen orientation.
Students come to the Independent Living Program, which operates at the Children’s Home, Boy’s Ranch, and Francis Willard Ministry Center, from a variety of situations such as aging out of foster care or transferring from a juvenile residential treatment facility. The common thread among all of these students is the lack of a support system needed to be successful as they transition into adulthood. That is what they find in the Independent Living Program.
“This place is more than just housing,” Tasha says, “I get the support I never had at home. If I don’t have an answer, they provide it. And if they don’t have an answer, we find it together.”
With the blessing she’s received, Tasha has become a servant leader who is blessing the lives of others in her community. She saw a grandmother in the neighborhood struggling to lift her grandson’s wheelchair up and down the steps of her front porch. Many would continue down the road after witnessing this scene, but Tasha came up with a plan. She worked with the Children’s Home staff to get materials donated and they built a ramp for the grandmother and her grandson
Tasha’s reign as Miss NSU provided her a platform to share her inspirational message of perseverance, personal motivation, and service. The good news is that Tasha is just getting started. With her degree in Public Relations she wants to make a difference in the foster care system.
Thanks to your support, Tasha graduated May 2015, debt free. She served one year in China teaching English to Chinese students of all ages. Currently, she works as the Church Relations Coordinator for Circle of Care.