DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – A North Texas mother who broke the cycle of poverty in her own life is teaching other mothers to do the same.
Caren Bright and her growing non-profit, Pamper Lake Highlands are changing lives.
Walking the halls and popping in on the preschool classrooms to see children learning and playing, Bright reflects on her own beginnings as a young mother.
“I am fourth generation poverty. I dropped out of high school after failing 9th grade twice with a 6th grade reading comprehension and I was homeless by age 20,” Bright remembers.
She has come far in that time.
“We wanted more and wanted not to live in poverty but I didn’t have those skills that I needed to break that cycle,” Bright says.
But she says families in the Northeast Dallas community of Lake Highlands saw something in her:
“They gave me mentorship and suggestions and connected me with places I would have never connected with myself,” she explains.
Bright changed her own life and felt she had a recipe to help other mothers do the same, starting with the most basic of needs – diapers.
From experience she knew, you can’t send a child to daycare without diapers.
“Food stamps cover food, WIC covers formula, but there’s nothing that covers a basic necessity like diapers,” Bright says.
She knew childcare was a necessity for women trying to move out of poverty and into careers.
“You need to have a high school diploma to get even a livable wage job,” Bright says.
Five years later, Pamper Lake Highlands elevates two generations – offering job and college readiness, ESL and parenting classes for mothers, and preschool, for their kids.
“It was an opportunity for me to better myself as a mother and as a woman in general,” says Shauntalae Pitts.
Pitts is a mother of six.
“I had been stay at home and been wanting to go back to school to get somethings under my belt, but just finances and childcare, it just never really worked out for me,” she explains.
The programs at Pamper Lake Highlands provided her resources.
Today, she’s a certified child development associate.
“It was nothing short of amazing. It was very enlightening,” Pitts says.
“Once you empower those two generations together, future generations will never know poverty,” adds Bright.
Like the woman who inspired them, the future for these families, is bright.
“I just walk the hallways excited and empowered myself, knowing that where I came from and where I can go is really exciting,” says Bright.
Pampa Lake Highlands is currently serving 85 families in the Northeast Dallas community. It is open to anyone who wishes to apply in the fall, for a one year commitment.