At an early age, Christina Parks, experienced many struggles. After being removed from her parent’s home at the age of five because of neglect and abuse, she and her two brothers were eventually placed in foster care, but that was bittersweet for Christina. “My foster parents only wanted my brothers, but the state told them we came as a package, so I went.” A few years after being adopted, she was removed again to escape abuse and shortly after, one of her brothers committed suicide. Christina began moving around from state to state, trying to make a life for herself. During that time, she met the love of her life, Joe and his daughter Alexis, and they settled down to begin a new life as a family. Once again, tragedy struck when she and her new family were in a horrible accident that resulted in the loss of their child. Christina found her world in shambles and not knowing where life would take her.

Years after the death of their daughter, Christina and Joe continued to struggle, but were blessed with a son. “I remember telling myself that things needed to change in my life, and I realized that the time was now,” she said. It was then that Christina decided to turn her life around and make things better for her family.

In September 2010, Christina came to the Wilkinson Center Food Pantry looking for a way to feed her family. As she became closer with her Case Managers, Patsy Driggers and Sonja Wright, she learned more about Wilkinson Center’s Adult Education program. Although she wanted to pursue her education, lack of childcare for her children proved to be the barrier she couldn’t overcome. Through Wilkinson Center’s partnership with Workforce Solutions, she was eligible for supportive services including childcare, allowing her to enroll in beginning GED classes in September of 2015. She quickly moved into the advanced class, passed the Pre-GED practice tests, and is expected to graduate in May 2016 with her GED.

Christina has big plans for the future that include college and culinary school. “My career will make things better for my family, but I am doing this for myself and to show my children that no matter what you go through in life, you can achieve your goals. It’s hard to put your past behind you until you work for a future that redefines you.”