Poised for Success

Underserved individuals are empowered thanks to Family Scholar House

By Mariah Kline
Photos by
Andrea Hutchinson

Five hundred twenty-three college degrees earned, 54 homes purchased and 34 children of program participants pursuing post-secondary education. These are the results made possible by the work of Family Scholar House.

The nonprofit’s mission is to change lives through education, empowering youths and families to succeed and achieve lifelong self-sufficiency. They can provide housing and other resources to single parents, all of whom have experienced poverty, unstable housing and, oftentimes, domestic violence. Their staff strives to meet each individual’s needs so that they may reach their career and family goals.

“These are outcomes that not only change the lives of these families but also Greater Louisville,” says Director of Mission Advancement Kellie Johnston Moore, “as these participants enter career-level employment and become contributing members of our community.”

On March 6, Family Scholar House will hold Wine Women & Shoes, its largest annual fundraiser that has brought in a net total of $1,275,945 since it began in 2014. The night is spectacularly fun for all who attend and lets the organization continue its life-changing work.

The night includes wine tastings, unique shopping experiences, auctions and a fashion show sponsored by Von Maur.

Cathe Dykstra and her Katy Perry pumps.

“The evening is filled with opportunities for networking with women leaders in our community and chances to win some fabulous prizes – including a Café dream kitchen donated by GE Appliances and a $10,000 shopping spree from Von Maur,” says Johnston Moore.

New this year is a big change to the silent auction. Though organizers aren’t revealing what all this will entail, they have said that everyone who participates in the “Pick Your Passion” Super Raffle will go home with a bracelet from Super Raffle Sponsor Merkley Kendrick Jewelers.

“There are always surprises,” says event co-chair Terri Bass of Lenihan Sotheby’s International Realty. “There is so much good energy in the room having so many women in one place with only two goals: having fun and supporting Family Scholar House.”

Bass and co-chair Melanie Cook of GE Appliances have worked on Wine Women & Shoes for a number of years and have seen first-hand the incredible impact the event makes.

“Family Scholar House offers young, single parents the opportunity to change their life and the life of their child in a few short years,” Bass says. “It’s successfully changing two generations and most likely all future generations for these young people. The results are immeasurable.”

For Melanie Cook, the organization’s mission is close to her heart.

“Their mission and programs resonate deeply with me,” she says. “My grandmother raised three children on her own at a time when that was not only unheard of but also when there was no support or resources. She was a fiercely independent and globally-minded woman. Family Scholar House provides women like my grandmother – single parents and young adults – access to the power of education and a safe environment. This helps them break the cycle of poverty and become their best self.”

Family Scholar House has plans for 2020 that will advance its work in identifying the community’s needs and addressing barriers that keep families and individuals from succeeding.

“Our latest initiatives are focused on programs and services to address not only the short-term needs of people in crisis but also to expanding educational and apprenticeship opportunities,” says Johnston Moore. “As we continue to grow our reach and expand our services regionally, expect to see Family Scholar House in the news in 2020 for a variety of creative, new initiatives to help address the barriers to success for disadvantaged individuals and families.” V

A Full House

The Folks Behind Family Scholar House

By Chloe Games

At Family Scholar House, staff members and community volunteers are a key factor behind the organization’s impact in Louisville. Two teams of staff members drive the organization’s day-to-day operations.

“Our advocates and coaches have the unique opportunity to meet the participants where they are, provide resources and advising through their journey to self-sufficiency and truly get to know them through the process,” Director of Mission Advancement Kellie Johnston Moore explains. The community engagement team complements the efforts of the academic coaches and advocates, reaching out to the broader community to coordinate opportunities that help the families of Family Scholar House further succeed.

Volunteers from across Louisville make Family Scholar House’s educational and fundraising programs possible, putting into action its commitment to empowering the entire family. In-house, volunteers offer presentations that range from the culinary to the literary, providing insight on everything from cooking vegetables in an appetizing way to practicing responsible dental hygiene. These community volunteers serve participants and their children through toddler storytime and help with homework. Events like Wine Women and Shoes benefit from the onsite support of volunteers, too, and it’s events like these that provide Family Scholar House with the resources to further its mission.

“100 percent of the proceeds go directly to support the programs and services that help our participants overcome barriers to education and success, such as academic coaching, family advocacy, speed mentoring, job shadowing, internship and apprenticeship placement, career coaching and many others,” Moore explains. It’s this partnership with community members that’s at the heart of Family Scholar House’s success. Moore says, “‘Family’ is in our name, and it is truly what our advocates and coaches become with our participants: family.”  V

To learn more about volunteering with Family Scholar House, email getinvolved@familyscholarhouse.org.