Every day, Akevia Wilson has a class full of third graders who look to her as a role model, and many days, she gets to sit down and counsel students in other grades too, because she has a valuable resource: her story.
“I’ve been through most of the things these kids are going through as far as homelessness or having a tough home life,” she said.
And they see Wilson—now a teacher, graduate student, wife, and mother—as a beacon of hope.
“It’s hopeful for them for me to share my story with them. I relate to most of the things they’ve gone through, and so they feel comfortable talking to me about some of the things going on in their life,” she said. “I tell them everybody goes through things—you just have to build resiliency to keep going.”
Wilson herself learned how to do just that with a little help from Christian Women’s Job Corps (CWJC). She had grown up in poverty in a single-parent home and was considered at-risk. By her mid-20s, she was a college dropout, jobless, homeless, pregnant, and suffering from deep depression, but then she found a home in a Baptist women’s shelter in North Carolina and got introduced to the Roanoke Chowan CWJC.
“CWJC helped me with encouragement, school, clothes, classes, items for my son, Bible study, and many other things,” Wilson said. “Everyone’s help enabled me to go to the local community college to add to some of my class needs and move me closer to my goal of one day having a teaching degree.”
She graduated from Chowan University in 2018 with an A average and a degree in education. That same year, she was awarded the Sybil Bentley Dove Award from the WMU Foundation, a grant given each year to a current or former CWJC student to help her become independent and nurture the development of her children.
Turns out for Wilson that wasn’t just her son, now 4—it was an entire elementary school.
“It has been wonderful. I’ve been very focused on my relationships and my children,” she said. “God has been here for me from the beginning, and I’m so thankful for everyone’s prayers—that’s what got me through.”
Wilson said she’s where she is today because of the people God put in her life through CWJC. “God has used my journey to strengthen my faith,” she said. “Because of these organizations and the wonderful Christian people who have helped and encouraged us, my son will not have to experience food insecurity or homelessness. Generational poverty ended with me because of all of you.”
Wilson’s story is just one of many—women’s lives are changed every day through CWJC and the Sybil Bentley Dove Endowment. You can help more people like Wilson find hope and pass it on to others. To find out more or to give a one-time donation or a recurring monthly gift, visit wmufoundation.com/dove-endowment.
Written by Grace Thornton.