A photo of a college library.
credit: Steve Evans/Flickr

After reading a May, 2016, Street Sense article that mentioned assistance provided to LGBTQ youth by the Wanda Alston Foundation, D.C. resident Sharon Lockwood contacted Street Sense for more information about two recent high school graduates who were mentioned in the article.  The two youth, both young women, had been accepted to college, and Lockwood wanted to provide emotional and financial support.

Lockwood has 46 unofficial godchildren to whom she gives financial guidance and support to help them through school.

“I want a one-on-one relationship,” Lockwood said.

Why? Because she loves the thrill of watching a student walk across the stage at graduation. She told Street Sense that her “kids” are aged 8-50; one of her younger godchildren became the recipient of a scholarship fund in Baltimore, which her oldest godson created.

Lockwood is not government funded. She pays for her godchildren out of pocket.

Maya Parker, presently a freshman at Morgan State University (MSU), became one of Lockwood’s godchildren in July. She majors in Social Work at MSU and has a grade point average of 4.0, which translates into straight As.

Parker is a dedicated student and it was clear from the beginning that she would not need a lot of help. Lockwood said that she Parker catch up with each other about once a month.

Ken Pettigrew, Executive Director of the Wanda Alston Foundation, echoes Lockwood’s sentiments about Parker.

“There wasn’t a big difference in her personality [after starting college]; she has always been mature and focused,” Pettigrew said.

Pettigrew says that more people like Sharon Lockwood are needed, and that people who have gone to college and can share some wisdom and encouragement should contact The Wanda Alston Foundation, regardless of whether they can financially support another person. He does not want to encourage homeless youth to go to college without giving them resources to succeed.

Parker is staying at the Wanda Alston House during her break and Lockwood is hopeful this is the last time she will stay there.  MSU advisors told Parker that they are considering creating a program for homeless students that is similar to an international student program, which provides year-round housing.

At dinner earlier this month, Parker discussed a PhD program in Social Work at MSU that excited both Lockwood and Parker.

Parker loves being part of MSU; she hopes to become a tutor in English and stay there for the summer term. She said she may pick up a summer class. Parker believes she learns the most from reading. She feels that she and Lockwood have a great relationship and that Lockwood is very inspirational and possess a lot of vital information.

So far, Parker’s favorite class has been “group dynamics,” which teaches students how to lead a group where sensitive issues are discussed and participants have many different opinions.   Maya Parker’s ultimate goal is to open a group home for abused and neglected youth.