Goodwill Easter Seals Reality Program & SELF Program
Violet Robinson Struggled Through Personal Tragedy to Success
Violet Robinson is the youngest of four children, and witnessed the death of both of her parents before she completed her junior year in high school. Her mother, Claudette Blackmon died in 2000 when Violet was just in eighth grade. Violet’s father, Lamar Robinson, died in 2003 when Violet was in eleventh grade. Sadly, both of Violet’s parent’s died due to complications of advanced kidney disease. After the tragic death of her mother, Violet moved in with her aunt, Rachel Blackmon, and had to transfer from Leflore High School to BC Rain High School.
During Violet’s freshman year at BC Rain High School, she enrolled in the Goodwill Easter Seals’ REALITY Program. The REALITY Program was a tutoring and mentoring program that had on-site program managers available to students in eight local high schools, including BC Rain, in the Mobile County Public School System. Their mission? To help as many at-risk teenagers as possible succeed in graduating high school.
At BC Rain High School, Violet met Jimmy Matthews, the REALITY Program manager at the school. Matthews worked diligently with Violet and she her school work became stable. However after the death of her father in her eleventh grade year, Violet began having problems. When she began failing eleventh grade, Violet transferred to Vigor High School where she met Susan Spraggins, REALITY Program manager for Vigor. According to Spraggins, Violet was a quiet student who had difficulty with social studies and with her social studies instructor, “I became an advocate for Violet. I knew she could do the work. She had just been through so much. One problem was that she had a lot of absences and cut school a lot. I tried to make contact with her as often as possible.”
Regardless of the assistance Violet received at school, she eventually quit because of an unstable home and transportation issues, never finishing the eleventh grade. When her aunt, Rachel Blackmon, died also, Violet made several moves before eventually moving in with her boyfriend, Calvin Dunklin, and his family, relying upon them for food, shelter and clothing.
One day when Violet was walking past the Goodwill Easter Seals Community Connection building, Spraggins spotted her through the window, stopping her to ask her inside to talk. Spraggins invited her to enroll in the Goodwill Easter Seals Strategies for Employment and Lifelong Fulfillment (SELF) Program. The SELF program assists at-risk youth in obtaining employment and educational skills needed to reach their future goals.
Violet enrolled in the SELF program and at the urging of Kathy Mack, Dunklin’s mother, Violet attended the tutoring classes with gratitude and enthusiasm. Mack also ensured that Violet would have transportation back and forth to the classes, in addition to the support that Mack had already been giving Violet.”
Entering the SELF program in February, Violet passed the GED exam just a few short months later in April. The SELF program wasn’t finished with Violet Robinson yet—they placed Violet in Saad’s Heathcare Certified Nursing Assistant (CAN) Training Program. Upon completion of the classroom and clinical training, Violet passed the Alabama state exam and received her CNA license in May of that same year.
Violet credits her boyfriend Calvin Dunklin and his mother Kathy Mack with helping her to success. “He was my inspiration to get my GED and he continues to inspire me to go to nursing school—he’s never doubted once that I could do it! And, I’m so grateful to Ms. Mack, his mother, for helping me when I needed it so badly,“ says Violet.
But Violet wants to thank the staff at Goodwill Easter Seals, particularly Susan Spraggins, with their part in her success as well. “The people at the Goodwill Easter Seals SELF program have helped me so much and they are very motivating. They really see the potential in young people and help them strive to reach that potential, just like they helped me,” says Violet. ”But I also need to thank Mrs. Spraggins, because without her inviting me to join the SELF program, I never would have done it. I thank her so much for never forgetting about me and always believing in me.”
Violet is currently doing contract work for Saad’s Healthcare and is looking for a place of her own to reside. She plans to attend Bishop State Community College in pursuit of a nursing degree. At Mobile Works, we believe that we will soon have a caring and committed nurse, Violet Robinson, in our midst. We applaud this young lady and her success.