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Stories of Our Families

2022 marks the 58th year since the Community Action Network was established to help minority communities overcome obstacles to poverty. This year, we celebrate Community Action Month by honoring families and their stories of perseverance and courage during this disruptive and difficult pandemic year. As we collect, document, and share the obstacles families have overcome, lessons learned, transitions and transformations, honoring remarkable tenacity and resilience, we encourage you to Share Your Story!

Once you take off, you will soar

Setbacks, volatility and frustration were the constants for Marisha Boykin. Unable to secure approval for an apartment lease and sleeping house to house with friends, she had no stability in her life while trying to progress with work, school, financial aid, and caring for three children. She had applied to several apartment complexes only to be denied with nowhere to go. Through family, Marisha knew of the Head Start program and the moment Marisha had her own children she determined to set her children up for success through our programs. And it was here things began to turn around for the Boykin family.

She met Family Services Supervisor Theresa Godfrey, who had noticed Marisha’s multiple addresses on an application and encouraged Marisha to apply for housing again. She was approved for the same complex she had been denied the year before; and meanwhile, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services’ Prevention, Retention and Contingency Program helped with utility services.

It didn’t stop there. Marisha learned of the Head Start’s STEPS Program (Supporting Transitions to Employment for Parents), family-centered coaching designed to lead to career certificates and credentials. Marisha met STEPS Program Coordinator Sherry Childers, who she lovingly refers to as “her rock.” She joined the STEPS program, found a support system, and started achieving goals at lightning speed. She received her Medical Assistance Certification and even obtained her all-important driver's license.

And it’s not just Marisha. Her children are flourishing too. Marisha says the entire program has been a big support system for her to progress, and, “Once you take off, you will soar!”

Growing as parents and entrepreneurs

When Carris and his wife Brittany had their three kids (now 7-year-old Selena, 5-year-old Cheyanne and 2-year-old Casamiro), it was their dream come true. Already a part of the Head Start family, 32-year-old Carris Clay, Jr. joined the Head Start Fatherhood Collaborative program to become a better father than he was already affirmed to be. But it was through the Head Start soccer program that the Clay family first learned of the Fatherhood initiative and got involved there.  

That’s not all. Brittany says that the Head Start program has benefitted the family as a whole. Working one-on-one with a home school educator has led to improvements in her daughter’s speech impediment. Beyond that, Brittany says that the soccer program got their children to become more active than they had ever been. 

Continuing his journey, Carris wants to be a resource to other fathers alike. His main motivation as fatherhood alumni is to help other fathers to be a supportive role in the household. He says the program and brotherhood he has formed with other fathers has truly opened new doors to new opportunities for him that he otherwise wouldn’t have known about. Like the GCMI Entrepreneurship Program. 

It was through the support and advice offered in the fatherhood program that the couple was introduced to GCMI in 2019 which the couple enrolled and successfully completed GCMI’s Ice House program, even completing advanced training virtually during the pandemic. 

The Clays had always thought about starting a T-shirt printing business and a cleaning business, and through successful completion of the GCMI program, they became entrepreneurially empowered. In May 2019, they decided to open their T-shirt business and in July 2021 they bought into a janitorial franchise, all while still working part-time. They agree: "The programs have helped us both grow as individuals and as parents!"


Stories of Community Strength & Resilience