Amanda’s Journey

They say kids will change your life, but that’s not usually through a flier in a backpack! When we came to Northern Kentucky, we were struggling. My son connected with Brighton Center’s Youth Leadership Development through his school. He came home from one of their meetings with a paper in his backpack about all of the other services we could receive at Brighton Center. At first, I resisted. Admitting you need help is so hard.

But the Youth Leadership Development Facilitator reassured me that their programs weren’t there to “help” me, they were there to offer me a different life. If it had just been for me, I might have still resisted, but they offered programs for everyone in my family, separately and together. The biggest change I had to make was to stop thinking of getting through just today and to start thinking of what I wanted for the future.

I moved into Northern Kentucky Scholar House in 2019 and enrolled at Gateway & Community Technical College as a part of the Gateway to Northern Kentucky University program. With my youngest child in Brighton Center’s Early Scholars Child Development Center on-site at Northern Kentucky Scholar House and my two older children in school and Youth Leadership Development, I had the time to focus on my education. I had never imagined myself going to college – my parents didn’t go to college, it was never the path set out before me like it is in other families, and I had no idea what to expect. So I did what was starting to come easier to me, and I connected with helpful resources at the colleges. Now with my associate’s degree achieved, and one semester left toward by bachelor’s degree, I am looking forward to pursuing a career in public relations and marketing. I never imagined that this was possible.

Through the years that I have been involved with Brighton Center, I have been working on my finances the whole time. The financial coaching that is a part of the process has made such a difference. I went from a financial situation I was not proud of to now sharing budgeting tips with everyone I meet. I was able to completely pay off my credit card debt and improve my credit score enough to start planning to buy my own home by attending the Home Buyer’s Club. 

One of the things I like the most about my new life is that I can participate in things now. When my life was all about struggling to pay the bills, I didn’t have the time or energy to get involved. But now, I love to give back to the causes that are important to me. I’ve gotten involved with the Resident Council at Northern Kentucky Scholar House to help shape and guide the community where I live, I’ve worked with the Northern Kentucky Pride Institute to help foster acceptance, and I’ve given tips on where to find resources to anyone who may need them (my biggest tip: start at Brighton Center!).

My older kids will be ready to start thinking about college soon, and as a first-generation college graduate, I will become one of those parents who can guide her kids through the college process. I’m teaching them how to budget now so that it becomes a habit for them. More than anything else, Brighton Center has given me a set of tools to navigate a life that I can teach others how to use, too. My kids have gained so many social skills and self-confidence through Youth Leadership Development that it has increased their ability to advocate for themselves. Realistically, life is going to throw a few challenges their way, but having the tools to face those challenges and having people who are ready to help you stand up to those challenges - that’s what success looks like.

The people at Brighton Center like to talk about hopes and dreams; when I first met with them, I didn’t have much of either. But now, I’m figuring out the next steps for my exciting new career; raising stable, confident children; and dreaming of a cozy home where the four of us will have a little room to spread out, a little garden to tend, and the time and energy to express my artistic side. All because of a flier in a backpack!

« See All Stories