|The things that stand out most from our childhood influence who we become as adults. Our memories are our treasures. Maybe it is the way we fix our favorite snack the same way mom did, or it may be the way we repeat sayings that our parents and grandparents used. For the residents at Epworth, their memories and traditions are often a little good mixed in with much more negative and some really, really hard ones. However, the beautiful thing about calling Epworth home is that we have an opportunity to make new memories each and every day with our residents. We are in the business of re-writing stories.
For Makala, her time at Epworth is like a thread woven throughout the blanket of her life. Makala came to Epworth with her sister and stayed with us for a few years before going to live with family members. Her time at Epworth was not incredibly long, but it was deeply impactful. After receiving the Marines Officer Scholarship, Makala returned to Columbia to attend the University of South Carolina. Makala created this path to success for herself, from figuring out Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to decorating a dorm, she set her mind on her goal and achieved it. Walking into the University of South Carolina on her own, a college freshman with big dreams and a work ethic of gold, Makala was quickly reminded of the life skills she learned at Epworth. She could do her own laundry, manage her money, schedule her time wisely, keep her space clean and even deal with living with someone else in a shared space. While her dormmates struggled and called their parents to ask the difference between detergent and fabric softener, Makala thrived.
Makala‘s memories and skills go far beyond that of laundry skills and time management, they are a part of who she is today. Her relationship with Ms. Wolfe who was Makala‘s case manager but now serves as Epworth‘s Director of Admissions, taught her that having just one person to believe in you and cheer you on can make all the difference. She learned the powerful impact of a positive environment and how a Sunday morning in church is so much more than an item to check off a to-do list. Makala found a passion and love for running through Girls on The Run, and ran track all through high school, and continues to keep physical fitness a part of her everyday life. Her time in the gardening club mixed with her grandmother‘s love for gardening has resulted in her being an avid plant lover.
|Makala‘s story continues to evolve. She has returned to Epworth as an intern in Asbury Cottage, where she works directly with children and teens. She reminds the teens that no matter how angry you are, how bad your reputation is, or how unfair life has treated you, that they are able to do hard things, succeed, and write their own story – just like Ms. Wolfe taught her years ago. She is in the trenches, teaching children to affirm themselves and work hard on improving themselves, because it is worth it. In addition to her work at Epworth, she is also influencing her younger sister. After seeing her hard work and success in college, she is inspired and is taking steps towards attending college next year.
We are thankful that Makala chose to come back to Epworth to give of her time and skills to the residents here. She reminds us every day that you can make your own family wherever you go. We are so proud to have been a part of Makala‘s life and we will be cheering her on as she finishes her degree in Women and Gender Studies this May and then is commissioned as an Officer into the US Marine Corp. We are proud to be part of your family, Makala.