Kenyatta Richards: How Community Made all the Difference

Hi, my name is Kenyatta and I’m 16 years old.  I’d like to share my story with you about what Sunshine has done in my life.  

Let me paint a picture for you about what my life was like about a year ago.  

I am the youngest of 5 kids and grew up mostly with just my mom and older siblings.  I moved around a lot and attended a lot of different schools. At the age of 15 I was attending Hansberry College Prep and maintaining good grades. You see, my dream has always been to become a math teacher and my family knew I was smart enough to do that.  Well, last year, I was going through a really hard time. I was feeling alone and didn’t have many friends. I felt like I had to put up walls with people. I got in fights a lot. On top of that, I found out I was pregnant. I was devastated. I cried and cried.  I felt embarrassed about being pregnant so young. People told me I would never be able to finish school, much less go to college. They said no man would ever want me because I had a child. And I believed them. My mom was supportive but I still felt depressed. As my pregnancy progressed and I got nauseous, I just didn’t know what to do.  I even considered abortion. I felt so alone.  

In the fall, a friend of mine from school invited me to Sunshine’s high school program.  Reluctantly, I decided to go. It was like nothing I’d ever been to before! Lamar, the director, gave a message and for the first time, I felt like the Bible made sense to me.  From that day on, I tried to come to everything I could at Sunshine. I felt so much acceptance and belonging. Lamar would teach us about loving everyone and working hard. He helped me understand the Bible and God more and I become more serious about my faith.  Lamar breaks things down so I can understand them and relate to them. He spoke a lot about what God says about our worth. I really understand my worth now and believe it! People at Sunshine even threw me a baby shower!

On May 17th, I gave birth to my beautiful son My’Khale.  Even though being a teen mother is hard, I feel like Sunshine supports me along with my mom and I have a new outlook on life.  I am joyful, hopeful, and excited. I have a genuine smile on my face now. I have been able to work at Greenline Coffee during the summer through Sunshine’s WorkLife program.  I am still in school and plan to go to college when I graduate to become a math teacher. Math has always made sense to me and I really want to teach middle school or high school students one day.  

I’m so thankful for how Sunshine has supported me through one of the hardest times of my life.