Award winning author, educator, and advocate for children, Stacey Bess, brought tears to the eyes of her lunchtime audience in Aiken Friday as she described her years teaching homeless children in a small shed behind a community homeless shelter.
"They changed me more than I changed them," she explained.
Bess taught K-6th graders as a newly certified teacher-- and stayed there for 11 years.
"I went to my car and cried when the Assistant Superintendent told me he wanted me to teach the homeless children," she told supporters of Aiken's Nurture Home.
"I learned, though, that I had a magnet on my forehead for disruptive kids, the ones who didn't want to follow the rules! They have the potential to be the greatest leaders our country will ever know."
It was a job that Bess documented in a journal, which was eventually turned into the Hallmark movie, "Beyond the Blackboard," starring Emily Van Camp, from ABC's Revenge.
Stacey Bess shared a message of empowerment as she told heartfelt stories of the power of love. She discovered that by teaching and modeling love, self-worth, personal power, and courage that she could reach children who had been labeled "unteachable."
A national Jefferson Award winner, Bess was in Aiken to support Nurture Home, a place where homeless young mothers and children can start over, at the first annual Hearts for Hope & Homes luncheon.
MHA Aiken Board Chair, Liz Neal, described the skills Nurture Home offers these women.
"They can learn life skills that somewhere along the way they didn't learn... how to manage money, find employment, gain parenting skills. They can turn their 'can'ts' into 'cans' and their dreams into plans."
For more information about Nurture Home, click here.
Signed copies of Bess' memoir, Nobody Don't Love Nobody, are available through the Aiken Chapter of Mental Health America with a $50 pledge to Nurture Home.
Contact Lisa Tindal for more information at 803-641-4164.
1336 Augusta West Parkway
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