When Henrietta Holbrook came to America from Ghana in February of 2020 with her children Chelsea and Gerald, they didn’t know that only a month later, everyone would go into lockdown because of COVID-19. To make things harder, they didn’t know much English.
“Imagine. My kids just came here. They don’t know anything. Then the lockdown came and we had to do everything for school at home. I have to help Chelsea on her computer and then Gerald on his computer,” Henrietta said.
Fast forward to the fall of 2020. The afterschool program at Chapel Hill Preparatory School was full, and thus they were introduced to Project Transformation North Texas, hosting an afterschool program at Chapel Hill United Methodist Church- just a stone’s throw from the school. Since then, they have been a part of every Afterschool Program year and the Summer Program, which they are currently attending.
“When my kids started they told me “don’t even bring a penny”. They do everything for free. Even the Family Fun Nights! I appreciate everything. You guys are doing the best!” she says with gratitude. Henrietta even went on to tell another family about the afterschool program at PTNT, and shortly after that family had enrolled their daughter.
“Some of the schools don’t tell them about Jesus, about Christianity. But when they came here they learned all those things. Even my mom is proud that they are learning about the Bible here,” Henrietta says, talking about one of her favorite aspects of the program.
In addition to a Bible Time component every week, the curriculum at Project Transformation focuses on literacy and social emotional learning, and participants in the Afterschool Program get assistance with completing their homework.
“When they are here they help them to read. They help them to do their homework. I can see a lot of improvement. PT helps my kids a lot, and I appreciate everything they are doing for my kids. They didn’t know how to read until they came here,” Henrietta says.
One of our PTNT Corps Members, Maddie Garcia, has served at Chapel Hill UMC over the last 2 years and has personally witnessed their growth. “When I first met Gerald and Chelsea, they were so nervous to read. They didn’t want to mess up, they would get embarrassed, and refuse to try. Now, Chelsea is full of determination. She tries to read books above her level to improve herself and she knows they’re hard. ‘Miss Maddie let me try,’ she says and I let her. Gerald isn’t the biggest fan of reading but we have definitely seen improvements. If he’s interested in the book, he’ll be in awe of what’s going on. He asks so many questions and I know the books transport him into a new adventure each time. I’m so happy for them and you can see their confidence in reading has improved tremendously.”
When asked the question “what dreams do you have for your children?” Henrietta’s daughter Chelsea laughed with anticipation of a sappy answer from her mother.
“I hope that my kids will become good people in the future. That they will have a good job,” she says. She goes on to talk about her dream of her daughter someday becoming a doctor or nurse and how proud she would be to come into the office and say “I’m Doctor Chelsea’s mom!” to which Chelsea giggles.
“I’m happy I came here because of my kids. Because I want my kids to become somebody in the future,” Henrietta says.