Tylissa's Story

Tylissa and her two kids

Tylissa and her two kids

By: Tylissa, Role Model Moms graduate, June 2015

I was a statistic. I was a single mother at the age of 17 with two kids in diapers receiving social assistance from the government. Over the years, I went to seven different programs trying to finish high school, but encountered many obstacles that didn’t allow me to finish. In January 2014, I underwent minor surgery and was required to rest at home. I was going through some papers when I discovered a pamphlet for the Role Model Moms GED program. I asked myself, “Do I really want to give school another try?” But I kept thinking this might be my last chance and that I shouldn’t give up. So, I called the number on the pamphlet and it was Chara, Outreach Workerin Victoria Village, who answered. She told me that there was one spot left and asked if I was interested in coming in the next day for the assessment test.

This was my now or never moment! So what if I just had surgery and there had been a winter storm the day before.  I asked myself if I was serious about not giving up, then why make excuses. After all, I’ve been through many hardships and even worse circumstances. I told myself that the worst thing that could happen is that I don’t try. In the end, trying turned out to be the best thing that happened. I came into the class while Chara was teaching and accidentally disrupted her lesson. She greeted me pleasantly and was so kind to me even after I had entered so abruptly. This made me feel immediately welcomed. During the term, we studied a bit of poetry in our English class. We studied one of my favourite pieces, Tupac Shakur’s poem, “The Rose that Grew From Concrete”.  The rose in the poem was able to flourish and become something positive filled with hope despite the harsh environment and circumstances that it grew up in. With the help of the Role Model Moms program, it became clear to me that I was that rose! That was the moment I knew I was on the right path. Even though I had been struggling as a single mother of two, and didn’t complete all the sections of the GED test the first two times, I was given a glimpse of hope.

What an amazing opportunity to be able to get my high school diploma, and to push forward with other ladies who have struggled just like me. The best part is being able to help my children with their homework and becoming a better role model to them.

In September 2015, I will be attending George Brown College for the Community Worker program. This is a step forward in a direction I never envisioned for myself. I’m proud that I haven’t let ‘giving up’ be an option. There is a reason for everything, and God has a plan and purpose for my life. He has helped me to jump over the many hurdles in my life and given me an opportunity for my rose to bloom out of the cold concrete. I’m so grateful to Toronto City Mission’s Role Model Moms program that has given me encouragement and support.

I cannot express the feeling of joy I have experienced, seeing my name in bold ink on that beautiful high school diploma that I earned. Finally! It was a milestone that I have accomplished, something enormous. But it was not only for me, but also for my children.