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Celebrating Black History

February is Black History Month, a time to celebrate stories of empowerment and achievements of Black Americans like Shanay*, one of our youth and young adults!

Bringing Hope through Trials

Shanay lived with a foster care family and experienced a significant amount of negativity from her foster parents. It was quite the opposite of a positive, hopeful environment and left her feeling discouraged and fearful. Now on her own, she was desperately in search of a place to belong and call home.

In March of 2019, Shanay found Outreach! It was a breath of fresh air to be surrounded by staff, other youth and young adults, volunteers, and community partners who genuinely cared, supported, and encouraged her as she began her journey towards emotional healing, independence, and stability.

While at Outreach, Shanay learned to establish healthy boundaries that emotionally filled her tank, gave her strength, and changed her perspective. It became clear that her past, while difficult, shaped her into the young woman she is today.

Her time in foster care taught her to let the negativity go if she wanted to continue to grow. She reflected on this season and thought about ways in which she could use her past in positive ways to come alongside others with similar struggles. In addition, she shared that she encountered a great deal of emotional fear. Outreach helped her overcome that fear and provided a vision of how she could move forward to positively impact others.


I wouldn't be the woman I am today if I let myself get down. That's what I want people to realize – you can't be down on yourself to keep yourself up.

- Shanay


Outreach continues to encourage Shanay in accomplishing her goals and admires her dedication to growing, overcoming, and supporting others along the way. Her fortitude, hope, and perspective are remarkable. She is moving forward and empowering others along the way. Shanay inspires us and we are so grateful that she found hope, healing, and a place to call home at Outreach!

Black Historical Heroes Reflecting on stories of empowerment like Shanay's is inspiring and especially meaningful this month as we remember and honor those who have led the way in empowering others and affecting change. Black Historical Heroes such as Justice Thurgood Marshall, Rosa Parks, Jackie Robinson, and Katherine Johnson are a few of our favorites.

Thurgood Marshall

As an attorney and the first Black Supreme Court Justice, Marshall fought for the mistreated, discriminated, and wrongfully accused Black Americans. His work through Brown v. Board of Education and several other cases paved the way for white Americans to understand that separate-but-equal is not equality.

Rosa Parks While Rosa Parks is most known for refusing to sit at the back of a segregated bus, she also demonstrated her determination for equal rights by joining the Scottsboro protests, serving as the secretary for the NAACP, becoming one of the first Black Americans to vote in Alabama, and joining a civil rights activist group.

Jackie Robinson

In the mid-20th century, opportunities for Jackie Robinson to play baseball professionally seemed well out of reach due to the color of his skin. However, that all changed when he was presented with the opportunity to play for the Brooklyn Dodgers. By living out his belief that all people are made equal, Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in baseball.

Katherine Johnson

Starting out in a pool of Black women working for NASA in 1953, Katherine Johnson was selected to join an all-male research team. As part of the research team, Johnson helped calculate the orbit for the Apollo 11 flight to the moon in 1969 and co-authored 26 scientific papers that are still referenced by NASA today.

Leaving a Legacy As we think about our nation’s Black heroes, we are thankful for their legacies. We are grateful for their determination for equality and desire for a hope-filled future for Black Americans. Because of their influence on society, youth like Shanay can, with determination and courage, continue to be a catalyst for change and transformation for many. In the same way that historic Black Americans have inspired us, we pray that Shanay's story will continue to empower and inspire others! *Pseudonym to protect privacy.

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