Texas Observer: The Sisterhood

Full article by Roxanna Asgarian


When Joidan Felix went off to college in 2014, she had a plan: She wanted to become an accountant. A knack for numbers had helped Felix ace her accounting classes in the business magnet program at Houston’s Westside High School. That led to an internship in Halliburton’s tax department her senior year. “It just came naturally,” she said. “I think it’s what I’m meant to do.”

But she struggled to adjust when she moved to Wichita Falls, an almost six-hour drive from her home and family, to attend Midwestern State University. Felix was failing her accounting class, even with a tutor. A first-generation college student, she was also having a hard time getting her financial aid squared away. And in the winter of her sophomore year, she unexpectedly got pregnant. When she told the father, he abruptly cut off contact with her. Angry, scared and ashamed, she dropped out of school and took a job at a shoe store. She was homesick and lonely, and didn’t tell her family or friends about the baby until she was seven months pregnant. “Expectations were so high, it was so much pressure,” she said. “I just didn’t know how to come out and say, ‘Hey, I’m pregnant.’”

Felix moved back home with her mother in southwest Houston in July 2016 and gave birth to her son, Jair, that September. She couldn’t afford her own place, so for the next three years she stayed with her mom, taking the bus to her job at a call center. Her salary barely covered the cost of childcare. A few months ago, her mother announced she was moving to Katy, leaving Felix, who doesn’t have a car, without a way to get to work. Felix realized she needed help.

Defender: Project Row Houses CommuniTea

Full post by Aswad Walker


Project Row Houses celebrated its 25th Anniversary with Communi-Tea, an event highlighting its Young Mothers Residential Program (YMRP). The event commemorated the legacy of lives positively impacted by YMRP over the years. People came donning everything from hats and sandals to sundresses and kente while enjoying fun, fellowship and uplifting words from YMRP members and alumni. Attendees included PRH founder Rick Lowe and supporters of all levels, like Andrew SpeckhardDevaron and Tiffani YatesEureka GilkeyRyan DennisMunirah OlabisiMarc NewsomeStephanie JacksonZeinab BakhietJosie PickensBreonna Goode and many more.

This program really did save my life.

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As we gather with our friends and loved ones during this special time of year, we have so much to celebrate. I'd like to take some time to share with you why I'm so grateful for Project Row Houses and the Young Mothers Residential Program. 

In 1996, I was 21 years old with my seven-month-old daughter, Dyani. I was unemployed, living from place to place, and had recently been charged with petty theft, and I had no clear direction in life and no clue what to do next.  Then a member of my church told me about the Project Row Houses Young Mothers Residential Program (YMRP), and I was accepted to join. At the time, I had no idea how this program would completely change the trajectory of my life.
 

When I moved onto the site and started attending the YMRP workshops and interacting with the PRH community, I discovered that what my life had been sorely lacking was a sense of community. PRH provided a myriad of resources through YMRP, including sewing classes, self-esteem workshops, mentorship luncheons and the Black Parenting Series with Dr. Nelda Lewis— all facilitated by people that lived and worked in the Third Ward Community — my new home.

My favorite part of the program was the sisterhood. YMRP taught me that I was an integral member of a larger community and how to access those communal networks for the support I needed. I learned to lean on my community members while providing a shoulder for them to lean on as well. 
 

Fast forward to today, I have a Master’s Degree in Business Administration. I’ve been a homeowner for ten years and have two beautiful, intelligent daughters, Dyani and Nya. Dyani is now a sophomore at Savannah College of Art and Design, and Nya is about to begin her freshman year at Texas Tech, studying Computer Engineering. The Young Mothers Residential Program and Dr. Nelda Lewis’ Black Parenting Workshops made me the parent that I am today, and I work hard to pass on what I’ve learned to my daughters.
 

I think back on my days at Project Row Houses a lot, looking at the person I was and the person I’ve become. I learned the importance of building community and how to support others as they support me – a lesson that I continue to live by today. My two years at PRH in the Young Mother’s Residential Program taught me that I can create community—no matter where I go. 
 

Today, I’m asking you to become a member of PRH’s Community of Supporters. Members keep the community thriving by allowing Project Row Houses to continue its incredible work with young, single mothers and other residents of the Third Ward.
 

Earlier this summer, two new mothers joined me as alumni of the program, and two new mothers and their children are starting the program moving into their homes this month. I’m so thankful that this program is continuing to provide invaluable support to single moms in Houston, and I hope you will join me in supporting these women and our community by clicking here and becoming a member today.  
 

Your generosity will help provide the tools and support to the current mothers and children in the program and help them to grow and create their own community much like when I started my journey 22 years ago at PRH.  

Thank you for your support,

Candice Wilson