Tracey listening to Lisa, our newest single mom

How It All Began…

Tracey listening to Lisa on the day she moved into the urban house.

Hey Peeeps, today is April 4th, the launch day for The Beacon of  I also recognize it is the eve of the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination.  What a connection, I look at this synchronicity as  a reminder to consider our work with impoverished single mothers as a part of the larger story of love and justice.

urban university was born in 1998, in the midst of welfare reform.  Over 20 years, we’ve helped more than 2,000 people striving to improve their lives.  I felt compelled to create a learning center in the community after experiencing life’s challenges to include growing up with my mother in prison, losing my brother to addiction and my young marriage ending in domestic violence.  I learned a lot over the years that helped me to overcome these harsh realities.  How to parent solo.  How to recover from homelessness.  How to protect my children.  How to take care of myself as a woman, in the midst of it all.  I clearly understand that these lessons are weaved into our organization’s spirit and mission.  I hope my life acts as a light for others.  That is how urban university was born.

In the picture above, I am meeting with Lisa, one of our new mothers, on her first day moving into our transitional home for women.  It’s important for me to sit down and listen to each woman.  Our industry calls it “case management.” I call it learning more.  It’s not always easy to listen to their stories, there’s always pain involved, that is shared.  During conversations, I find it important to laugh together whenever possible, it lightens the load, makes it easier to open the door for renewal.  Amir captured that moment, that light moment, when a woman finds the strength to laugh, in the midst of her situation.