Established by Family Lifeline Board Member Bill Leedom, this scholarship awards select clients and staff with funding to continue their higher education pursuits. Funded by the Leedom family and close friends in honor of Bill’s father Richard, Bill believes that education truly has the power to make a difference in he lives of families and to set examples for generations to follow.

Joliesh Smith

Since enrolling in Family Lifeline’s Early Childhood Intervention Programs, Joliesha Smith has never hesitated to reach out for help when she really needs it – and no matter what life throws her way, she stays determined to meet her goals. From the beginning, Joliesha has set large goals — getting a job, learning how to drive, obtaining her driver’s license, buying a car, enrolling her son in speech services and school, as well as enrolling in school herself. And in her time with Family Lifeline, she has achieved all of these goals and more! Since enrolling in J. Sergeant Reynolds Community College, she continues to demonstrate the same amount of determination. Joliesha excitedly sits in the front of each class, shows up early each day to review the previous day’s notes, and has a daily homework/study schedule that she sticks to without fail. She loves her instructors and asks them for help when needed. When asked why she works so hard, she stated: “I’ve been homeless with nothing and I’ve busted my tail to get out of that place I was in. I’ve worked at McDonald’s, Subway, and other minimum wage jobs to make ends meet. I’m a determined person and I will do what I have to do so I can make my dreams come true. Being a mother pushes me even harder not to fail. It’s not just myself I have to think about—it’s my son and my son’s future as well.” Receiving this scholarship means the world to Joliesha who will become CNA-certified later this month and is continuing her studies to become a registered nurse this fall.

Annie Rhodes

Since beginning work with Family Lifeline in July of 2016, Annie Rhodes has lived our organizational values every single day. She uses her education to support her Care Management work and her Honoring Choices work on behalf of the individuals we serve as well as for the greater good of the organization — helping us fight against ageism and develop a community outreach program. Higher education is important to Annie, with it she is able to serve as an informed catalyst for change and can bring evidence informed practices for positive outcomes to both individuals we serve as well as our workforce. Receiving this scholarship will support Annie as she seeks her PhD in Gerontology and move her toward her future goal of operating her own nonprofit around advocacy for older adults, persons with disabilities and the workforce that cares for them.

Taylor Williams

Taylor has been a bilingual parent educator for Family Lifeline since June 2016 and in all that time she has successfully balanced work while enrolled in school.  Taylor is working to obtain her Masters of Social Work from Virginia Commonwealth University and this past year, that included classroom time as well as an internship with Families Forward, formerly known as Prevent Child Abuse Virginia. Taylor appreciates the skills and knowledge she has gained from her work with Family Lifeline and hopes to leverage that in her future work. Her goal is to use her education to better serve those in need and be able to make a difference in their lives.