We’re eight years old! It’s July and our 8th anniversary of incorporation is this month. Sometimes it seems like just yesterday; sometimes it seems like a lifetime ago. Back then it was just me and some AMAZING early volunteers. It would be another year before we had our first Mother’s Club, six more months before we started Enrichment Electives, and our first Strong Families Institute cohort started in 2011. But pointing out the timeline doesn’t tell the story of how far we have come.
Last week we took some of our “premiere” volunteers out to lunch. These are women who have really given over and above in their time and energy to the work of MSH. All of them are SFI graduates, one from the original cohort. We were reviewing the “best and worst” of the past program year and they had some great stories and insight. But then the conversation shifted to “I would be so different if it wasn’t for MSH.” They shared how different they are, how different their families are, how much they learned through SFI, and how much they are still learning. We even had a few tears. I couldn’t have paid for a better testimony about what we’re doing.
But this is the one that really got to me. The lady who was in our first SFI cohort was sharing pictures of her oldest son’s graduation from Humboldt State University with a degree in Kinesiology. One wonderful picture was of her whole family. It was an amazing picture: her son in his robe and mortar board, her middle daughter who will enter her senior year at Long Beach State University this fall and graduate next spring with a degree in social work, and her youngest daughter who is an honors student at Kennedy High School here in Anaheim. Without prompting, the lady said, “I doubt either of them would have gone to college without the total change in our thinking about the future and reaching for dreams. That is all because of My Safe Harbor. They watched me change and start to dream, and they received my enthusiastic encouragement to have their own dreams. I think they probably would have graduated from high school, but we never imagined honor students and college graduates. I am amazed.” This was one of those tearful moments.
Perhaps the best part of this year’s anniversary celebration is that we have come far enough to have those kinds of stories — real “where are they now” stories that illustrate our goal of transformed lives. And we’re keeping these women involved and giving back to other women in our neighborhood. I’m so proud, so humbled, so amazed, so grateful, and so glad that God opened the doors for this work. Happy anniversary My Safe Harbor!