For many people, exchanging gifts with family members is an important part of the holiday season. For our Fellows, however, this tradition is complicated. They lack the family structures and support systems so many of us take for granted. These remarkable young people are hard at work building self-sufficient lives and they too deserve to enjoy the holidays. This year, to help them celebrate the season, we’ve asked our Fellows to prepare Amazon wish lists for themselves and their children.
As you pick out gifts for your loved ones, please take a moment to look at these lists, and consider granting a holiday wish this season. All you need to do is click on one of the names below. While you're shopping on Amazon, you can use AmazonSmile to support RJLF. Just go to AmazonSmile and search for RJLF.
Please join us in helping our Fellows celebrate the holiday season.
Brittany is an intelligent, determined, and hard-working mother. She's currently working in the pharmaceutical industry and focused on providing stability and meaningful opportunities for her son. While involved in RJLF, Brittany has furthered her education including, completing courses at her dream school, Villanova.
Caroline is a single mother, determined to make a better life for herself and her son. Her goal is to obtain a bachelor’s degree in education. Caroline recently completed her associate's degree and is employed at a community college. She loves working in education and helping other students achieve their own goals.
Emily’s early experiences with the foster care system and homelessness motivated her to create opportunities for herself and her daughter. We are proud to say that Emily recently completed the nursing program at MCCC. She has now started a new job working as an RN while also pursuing her Bachelor of Nursing at Drexel.
Joseph is an amazing young man. He used to believe he wasn't "school material," but he is now taking several classes to further his education while also working full time in his field of study. He works closely with his RJLF Mentor, who is helping him pursue a degree in social work. He is determined to give back and help others.
Joyce, a hard-working single parent, will earn her associate's degree this winter. She was accepted by Temple University, where she plans to study psychology with the goal of working in education. Joyce cares deeply about the community and participates in many social and organizational clubs. She is a dedicated mom who is committed to achieving her goals so as to provide her children with the best possible life.
Theresa is an incredibly hard worker, constantly balancing an overflowing plate. She is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice at West Chester University. She also works three jobs and takes car of her son as a single parent. Her dedication, independence, and work ethic inspire everyone around her.
The American Dream is alive in Montgomery County. As a young single mother, Emily* demonstrates motivation, tenacity, and a commitment to her daughter and their future. Her resiliency during long and frequent periods of homelessness and time in the foster care system only served to strengthen her resolve to work harder. Anybody could have crumbled under the pressure of raising a daughter, managing the mental stress incurred through the loss of her family, and the lack of stable and safe housing; but Emily did not quit. She wanted to be a nurse, and now, after years of struggling and false starts, she is enrolled in the nursing program at Montgomery County Community College.
In a letter to the R. J. Leonard Foundation, who took her into their scholarship and mentorship program 14 months ago, Emily wrote, “I remember feeling like I would not get very far in nursing school due to me being a single mother and knowing how many various challenges I had. These challenges were child care, transportation, financial support while in school, amongst other things.” As a Fellow of RJLF, Emily was matched with a Mentor who now supports her educational, professional, and personal goals by meeting with her on a regular basis. “One day out of the week, I have to leave home no later than 6am and it was really difficult to find a babysitter. With the help of my mentor Pam, I was able to find a trustworthy babysitter to watch my daughter as I go on to school”
RJLF has provided multiple educational, socio-cultural, and transportation scholarships to Emily. In one of her thank you letters, she stated: “This financial assistance included ... help with bills and childcare costs. The program that I attend is very vigorous so the help with financial support has been extremely helpful to me.” While she juggles her studies, Emily also works on being the best mother she can be to her young daughter.
RJLF provides a support system for Emily, but it is still up to her to work hard and chase her goals. Day in and day out, Emily puts in the time and effort into nursing school and parenting to make a better life for her and her daughter. Those who know her describe her Emily as someone who sees barriers as lessons and celebrates each success. Emily’s American Dream is coming true. Provide support to Fellows including Emily by donating today.
Below are a few of Emily’s thank you letters to RJLF:
Thank you for sending me this opportunity. I sometimes think about how far I have come from dhs, group homes, abuse, homelessness, and being a young parent to almost completing my first step in my education goals--obtaining an RN License (Associates degree) I have had to endure some things and I have also made plenty of mistakes (still make them at times!!), but to know how much support I have is a huge blessing. I know life is filled with ups and downs, but I thank God through it all. It may not be easy, but I have faith. A lot of blessings have been coming my way lately. I thank you so much for thinking about me, sharing opportunities with me, letting me know I have support, and always being there for me to help me get to the things that I need in order to be successful. I have such strong, positive, and successful people in my corner. Thank you for everything you do and your kindness. You all are amazing people. Have a great day. "
"To the RJ Leonard Foundation:
I want to write this letter to thank you for the things you have helped my daughter and I with recently.
We are so appreciative of your kindness and thoughtfulness. I always will remember and be grateful for these times of my life. I am at a place of transition in my life by striving everyday to be successful in getting a college degree. I am also working everyday to be a better woman and mother to my daughter. The foundation has helped me when I had no one else. I just want to really thank you for the continued financial assistance that allows me to focus more on school so that I can pass my classes. Also, I want to thank you for the assistance with babysitter costs. One day out of the week, I have to leave home no later than 6 am in the morning and it was really difficult to find a babysitter. With the help of my mentor Pam, I was able to find a trustworthy babysitter to watch my daughter as I go on to school (hospital as a student nurse). This was something that I was worried about, but things worked out well and I cannot thank you enough. I am also getting Hello Fresh meals here and there to help with meal planning for the week. I thank you so much for that. As I end my letter, I want to let you know that this foundation means SO much to me and I take nothing for granted. My daughter and I are improving and progressing as a small family unit by getting closer and closer to our goals and dreams. Thank you so very much."
*Names and identifying information have been changed to protect the confidentiality and safety of Fellows involved in the R.J. Leonard Foundation's programming.