ALUMS SHARE WISDOM WITH SINGLE PARENTS

GTCC counselor Ednalyn Hurley (middle) pictured with single parents' support group alumni. Photo by Carla Kucinski.

GTCC counselor Ednalyn Hurley (middle) pictured with single parents’ support group alumni. Photo by Carla Kucinski.

Ednalyn Hurley has touched a lot of lives.

Through her work as a counselor at GTCC, she has provided support and encouragement to countless students, particularly single parents.

Twenty years ago, Hurley founded a single parents’ support group to provide an outlet for single mothers and fathers needing encouragement and fellowship. This year, the group celebrated its 20th anniversary with a luncheon on the Jamestown Campus. Six alumni of the single parents’ group returned to campus to share with current single parent students their stories of struggle and triumph. The luncheon was an opportunity for alumni to encourage, inspire and uplift current students.

April Thompson (left), an alumni of the single parents' support group, shares her story.

April Thompson (left), an alumni of the single parents’ support group, shares her story.

For these five women, the single parent support group was their refuge. They formed lasting friendships, baby-sat each other’s kids and leaned on one another during tough times.

“I learned to embrace everything that came my way and it was all because of Miss Hurley and the single parents group,” said April Thompson, a single parent alumni and founder of the nonprofit A Joyous Transition Family Resource Center. “I kept coming back to Miss Hurley because she gave me wisdom. She gave me knowledge.”

Each alum stressed to current students to take advantage of all the resources available to them, particularly the single parents’ support group.

“Everything you need is in this room,” said Donnell Seyni, a certified Life Coach, author and inspirational speaker.

Donnell Seyni, an alumni of the single parents' support group at GTCC, shares her story with current GTCC students.

Donnell Seyni, an alumni of the single parents’ support group at GTCC, shares her story with current GTCC students.

For Monique Banks, who helped start the single parents’ group, Seyni was the one she leaned on when they were both single parents starting out at GTCC.

“I don’t know what I would have done without her,” Banks said.

Monique_web

Monique Banks.

She found solidarity in the single parents’ group. That bond, she said, helped her survive.

“There are a lot of things people don’t know we go through,” she said.

Banks graduated last year with a bachelor’s in social work. She plans to open a home for single mothers one day.

The afternoon discussion uplifted Loretta Harris, a psychology student at GTCC and member of the single parents’ support group. Her emotions were evident in her smile and the tears she wiped from her face. She found solace in knowing that other single moms understood what she’s going through.

“I got so much inspiration from them,” Harris said. “I can’t wait for us to do it again. I’m just appreciative.”

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— Carla Kucinski/GTCC

Published June 1, 2015