By Deborah Howell

Last Saturday I had the honor and pleasure of co-hosting the  2016 Unstoppable Awards with Dr. Anissa McNeil, CEO and Founder of  Education Works Consulting Firm, Inc.  at the Brookside Country Club. Dr. McNeil is someone I deeply admire for her can-do spirit in a world where others might think the going is just too tough.

Photo courtesy of Deborah Howell

Photo courtesy of Deborah Howell

The scholarship awardees represent foster youth who have experienced homelessness, physical abuse, sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, abandonment, probation, and placement in detention centers and camps.  A few of the awardees have attended more than 10 schools in their academic career and missed years of school due to homelessness. Many experienced depression as a result of such trauma. However, they overcame these horrific circumstances, strived to do better in school, and we pronounced them unstoppable!  

Photo courtesy of Deborah Howell

Photo courtesy of Deborah Howell

One awardee had a grade average below 1.0 when she started working with Education Works.  “But I can cook!” she insisted.  A program was found for her, and on Saturday we presented her with a set of culinary knives and a scholarship to a culinary school.  She’s now unstoppable!
We are so very proud of each of our awardees.  Here’s one of the thank you notes which we received:
“Hello Dr. McNeil, I wanted to say thank you so much for the scholarship. Also thank you to the group who interviewed me. You have opened so many doors for me and I am so thankful to have met you. This was an amazing experience and I’m glad I was a part of it. Your story moved me and taught me so much. Now I know for sure that I can become whatever I want. Nothing is out of reach. Thank you again for everything. You truly made me feel special and motivated me!!”
Photo courtesy of Deborah Howell

Photo courtesy of Deborah Howell

In addition to awarding scholarships to these deserving students, we also honored those who challenged “the system” to help accommodate these kids and to open more doors for them: Judge  Jude D. Zeke Zeidler and Retired Referee Sheri Sobel. Their hearts are in the right place, and their continuing efforts to break down doors on behalf of foster youth is paying off in a huge way.
Dr. McNeil and I  want to express a heartfelt thank you to everyone who supported this event!  Your support made this possible.  Together we helped send 3 awardees to a 4 year college, 3 awardees to a trade school, and 3 awardees to community colleges, and gave hope and inspiration to countless others. In addition to the monetary scholarships, the award winners also are paired with an “Unstoppable Angel”;  a private donor who provides transportation and items to the scholarship awardees to move in to college. Unstoppable Angels also ensure that awardees do not go to college alone by accompanying them to move-in and helping them with the supplies they need for their new dorm room. No child should have to go to Student-Parent night at college alone, and these Unstoppable Angels make sure this never happens.
Photo courtesy of Deborah Howell

Photo courtesy of Deborah Howell

Some amazing work on the part of many helped to change the lives of our foster youth, and Dr. McNeil and I are so very grateful for your support, encouragement, and assistance. The goal for next year is to nearly double the number of scholarships for these wonderful kids who have risen to the top in spite of extreme challenges. And to help the community “Listen, Educate, and Protect” our foster youth.
If you’d like to learn more about The Unstoppable Awards or to find out more about becoming an Unstoppable Angel,  please click here:

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