Updated: Sep 1
Hello and welcome to my little corner of the website! Looking back at my post from June 3rd, I hadn’t realized until I sat to write this update everything that the Foundation has been up to in the past month or so. Check out the Latest News section on the home page to get caught up. It’s a bit dizzying to see it written down. The Foundation is much better prepared to operationalize its mission than even a month ago in large part because of overwhelming community support. I am humbled and grateful.
So much of this success is directly related to the generosity of our donors and the work of our Board of Directors. There are many ways to create organizational impact, and in the past month, many people have stepped up for the Foundation in many ways. Being awarded a $5000 AIMer grant from Albuquerque Involved (our Featured Partner—check out the Featured Partner blog to learn more about the great work they do!) was a major milestone for TCTGSF. A group of young people from Albuquerque Involved comprise the AIMer group who read proposals and decide how to allocate funds. We were able to meet some of the young people behind the AIMer group and I was blown away by their commitment to bettering our community, as well as their belief in our mission. At the award dinner, Drs. Nancy and Joe Croker spent time learning more about the Foundation’s mission and at the end of the evening, matched the award. I was flummoxed. And so very grateful.
Martha Allen’s contribution that underwrote our promotional materials propelled the Foundation into its next stage of development. Contributions from the Hood-Arnold Charitable Fund and Dr. Jonathan Terry directly supported our community outreach efforts and forwarded our Laptop program. The Foundation would not be where it is today without their support.
Some of these opportunities also come from the work of our Board members. Kelly McDonald whose moving piece about her own domestic abuse survival story is featured in the Meet Our Community blog, is a member of Albuquerque Involved and alerted me to the opportunity to apply for the AIMer grant. Ashley McKenna, one of the first people I ever spoke about the idea of a foundation to, told me about a grant through Bernalillo County and helped me to envision the Foundation’s work on a larger scale than I’d ever considered. I just submitted that proposal July 3rd, and she was there to talk me down and through that process.
I’m proud to say that the Foundation has added a new member to our Board. Jane Kasper and I studied together at Oxford University and maintained our friendship from the time of camping out for basketball season tickets at Duke University to her hosting me at her home in St. Paul, MN while Mason is away at hockey camp up there. She’s also one of the most organizationally-savvy and creative people I know and has been hard at work designing and developing our promotional materials. I can’t wait for you to meet her (Bio and pic coming soon!).
Having a community-led board is of utmost importance to the success of TCTGSF. “Community-led” means that the communities the Foundation serves is represented in our decision-making. Our board welcomes inclusion and diversity across race, gender, sexual identity, and socio-economic status. While we could certainly benefit from members with experience in the social media, accounting, and legal fields, we also need members with different cultural experiences. If you’re interested but uncertain whether board membership might be for you, I’d welcome the opportunity to explore possibilities.
I really hope to see you at the Rail Yards Market or at the Chef Battle. Thanks as always for your support. Talk to you again soon.
Initial Founder’s Forum Post
Welcome and thank you for taking the time to get to know the Foundation better! Every new undertaking begins with introductions of some sort, and in this post, I’d like to introduce myself, my sister, and the Foundation’s mission. I’d also like to introduce you to what you can expect from us as an organization, as well as opportunities available for becoming a part of the community.
My name is ShelbraThorla-Ginn and I am the Founder and President of The CenneaThorla Guidry Scholarship Foundation (TCTGSF). There’s a song that talks about defining yourself by what you love, and maybe that’s the best way to tell you about me. I am wife to the best person I know, mom to my favorite hockey player (Go Ice Wolves!), and a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. For even longer, I have been a daughter to a resilient mom and sister to my younger brother and, of course, Cennea.
I love this picture of Cennea—it’s probably my favorite. Cennea was 5 years my junior and the baby of the family. In a word, she was audacious. She was sassy and quick and stubborn. She did things her way like get in the bath fully-clothed because she wanted to bathe with her big sister. I’m pretty sure that’s my towel she’s holding. She was also smart and pretty and generous. She was born a force.
On January 7, 2021, my sister, a 29-year-old wife and mother of two young children was found dead in a ditch about a mile from her home. She had been in the process of leaving an abusive marriage. No one was ever arrested for her murder.
Where the things I love, my sister and this foundation intersect is in my love of stories. From a young age, I knew that I would either be a psychiatrist or a teacher because I was drawn to words, the narratives we tell ourselves to make sense of our lives. TCTGSF was born from trying to create a story that would make sense of both Cennea’s death and life. When I realized that I could never know my sister’s story because she alone really knew it, I decided to focus on a different story that would at least give meaning to her life and death. Her legacy. It’s the best I can do.
Education was pivotal in the opportunities I’ve had in my life, as it was for my sister; tragically, in an inverse way. That’s why supporting educational opportunities for domestic abuse survivors is the work of this Foundation. Obviously, education doesn’t prevent domestic abuse, but it can offer economic, psychological and social resources often unavailable to those without it. TCTGSF is a charitable 501(c)(3) nonprofit foundation that collaborates with direct care providers in the domestic violence community to provide funding for not only traditional educational costs like tuition and fees, but also for real-world obstacles for single parents completing programs, such as technology, documents, transportation and childcare.
Almost everyone has been impacted by domestic abuse in some fashion. Perhaps the most excruciating aspect to living with it or even bearing witness to it is the sense of disempowerment that goes hand-in-hand with abuse. Engaging with TCTGSF is a way of reclaiming a bit of power, of helping to make an actual difference in the lives of survivors and their children that will have ramifications for generations to come. Our touchstones are Integrity, doing what we say we’re going to do, and Transparency so you know what your time and money are actually used for.
I personally invite your involvement in any capacity that’s right for you, and truly appreciate your support. If you’d like more information about TCTGSF, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
I’ll talk to you again soon.
2nd Founder Forum Post May/06/23
Hello and welcome to my little corner of the website! It’s been a busy time at The Cennea Thorla Guidry Scholarship Foundation (TCTGSF). Since our Mother’s Day Auction wrapped, we have been focused on grant-writing (Wish us luck!), building infrastructure (Liability insurance!), and our Laptop Drive. The drive is going great. Many thanks to Greg Mullen and Phil Nairn at Albuquerque Computer and Electronics Recycling for their extremely generous donation of 10 of laptops that we will be awarding soon! While Albuquerque Public Schools provides computers for their students, many adult learners in program-based housing don’t own computers that they can take along their entire educational journeys. This contribution by ABQ Computer and Electronics Recycling will make an enormous difference in many family’s lives. I’m so grateful. Check them out at https://abqrecycling.com.
What we are seeking now are new or gently-used laptop backpacks that recipients can use for transporting their new computers. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have one you’d like to pass along to a student in need.
In addition to our Laptop Drive, we are also preparing for our next fundraising event. You won’t want to miss this one! TCTGSF is excited and honored to have been chosen by 505 Food Fights as a recipient of one of their Chef battles! 505 Food Fights is a local charitable organization that holds bracket-style culinary competitions with professional bartenders, cooks and chefs throughout the area. Think Food Network shows like Chopped and you get the idea. They even auction off a spot at the judging table, so if you ever thought you might like to be a judge on one of those cooking shows, here’s your chance! Monday, August 14, 2023—save the date, get a babysitter and come out in support of a great cause. You can learn more about 505 Food Fights on Facebook. We’ll provide more details as they come available, and I really hope to see you there.
Somehow, it is already June and the Foundation is approaching its 5th month of existence. I can’t believe how far we’ve come in such a short time! Our Board of Directors is growing, and we still have room for a few more people. We could really benefit from assistance in the social media, accounting and legal fields. If you have any experience in these areas, I’d welcome the opportunity to explore a collaboration.
Finally, with June comes Father’s Day, and I’d like to take this opportunity to highlight domestic abuse against males ranging from childhood, through adolescence to adulthood. The public discourse on abuse generally focuses on women as victims, and indeed, statistics reflect that females are more likely to be abused or murdered by an intimate partner. Domestic violence is greatly underreported in general, and for the many complications and obstacles to females reporting abuse, males often face greater stigma in making such reports. Here are just a few statistics to consider:
* About 41% of women and 26% of men experienced contact sexual violence, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner and reported an intimate partner violence-related impact during their lifetime. Over 61million women and 53 million men hav experienced psychological aggression by an intimate partner in their lifetime (The CDC’s National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey).
* 1 in 10 high school students have been purposefully hit, slapped or physically hurt by a boyfriend or girlfriend. Only 33% of teens who were in an abusive relationship ever told anyone about the abuse. 81% of parents believe teen dating violence is not an issue or admit they don’t know it’s an issue (https://www.dvs-or-org).
* 1 in 15 children are exposed to intimate partner violence each year, and 90% of these children are eyewitnesses to this violence (www.ncadv.org)
When we think about domestic violence, we most often think about it occurring in some form of an adult relationship; however, childhood domestic violence and adolescent dating violence are not only realities, but can carry with them profound long-term effects. As the mother of a 15 year-old boy and a therapist who has sat with boys and men for over 30 years, it is imperative that our discourse holds space for male survivors to tell their stories of victimization without stigma. Healing begins when we are seen, heard and honored, and if we are to interrupt the cycles of abuse, we must uncategorically legitimize males’ experiences of trauma.
Just as domestic violence shows no discrimination across any social markers, TCTGSF is committed to equality, diversity and inclusion in our award decisions. The false binary of female/victim v male/perpetrator is a dangerous oversimplification that complicates if not impedes the possibility of healing. This summer, amidst all of our activities, my Mom goal is to make sure my son has a vocabulary to talk about his relational experiences—positive, neutral and negative.
I wish you and yours a summer filled with connection and joy. Talk to you again soon.
3rd Founder Forum Post June/28/23
Welcome, and thanks for taking the time to visit my corner of the website. The CenneaThorla Guidry Scholarship Foundation (TCTGSF) has grown so much since my last post! We won our first grant; we exceeded our goals for our first fundraiser; we have broadened our exposure in the community through identifying and meeting with potential community partners; I learned there are no hyperlinks in Instagram posts. Every day, the Foundation is evolving faster than I ever could have dreamed.
If you looked through the website prior to reading my blog, you may have noticed another change. It may seem small on the surface—after all, it amounts to a few words. Check out our updated mission statement:
The CenneaThorla Guidry Scholarship Foundation is committed to supporting educational opportunities for domestic abuse survivors of all ages moving towards economic autonomy and personal empowerment.
Why add “of all ages”? When I first conceived of this Foundation, my vision was to support adult domestic abuse survivors in furthering their educations so they could create more independent and abuse-free lives for themselves and their children. One day in a meeting with a community partner, they commented that the children raised in those environments were survivors, too. I was floored. Obviously, Irecognized the children as victims and their trauma legitimate, but there was something about acknowledging them as domestic abuse survivors that shifted my entire way of thinking about our mission.
Then, there’s Mother’s Day.
This is Cennea when she was around 19 years old with her first baby who was around 1 at the time. My sister went on to have a son 5 years younger than her daughter, and those kids were the loves of her life. She went through hell to give those kids the best life she could, conjuring money and jobs and housing and opportunity anyway she could manage. My sister was a born hustler and I stand in awe of what she managed with as little as she had. I think about what an impossible position she occupied: trying to provide safety and stability in an unsafe situation that was far from stable while simultaneously creating and recreating the façade that everything was fine. Her super-power was making everything look beautiful when underneath was just a house of cards. Her life depended on being the best secret-keeper, on creating something beautiful out of desperation and pride and trying so hard to make it all bearable for her kids.
As a parent/caregiver, is there any greater pain than watching our children suffer? What lengths do we go to to protect them, to try and make up for the indignities they endure or bear witness to? Despite our best attempts, though, they remember. Those memories live on in their bodies long after the sounds and sensations recede.
The impact of domestic abuse on children is profound. Statistics from the Childhood Domestic Violence Association (cdv.org) show that these children are at-risk for pervasive issues stemming from their trauma:
· Children in violent homes are physically abused or severely neglected at a rate 1500% higher than the national average.
· Children exposed to domestic violence are more likely to experience physical and mental health problems, including PTSD; learning difficulties with lower IQ scores; 6x greater likelihood of committing suicide; and 50% greater likelihood of abusing drugs and alcohol.
· Children who grow up in homes with domestic violence are 74% more likely to commit a violent crime against someone else.
Because of their vulnerabilities, our child survivors are positioned to become the new generation of abusers and victims. And so it goes.
That’s why TCTGSF has expanded its mission to explicitly recognize and support children who have been exposed to domestic violence as domestic abuse survivors. TCTGSF supports academic enrichment activities like tutoring and other extracurriculars that support their academic development.
Not long after my sister died, I had an experience. It wasn’t a dream, but it happened as I slept. My sister came to me and sat at the foot of my bed. In an instant, I joined her, so happy to see her. Cennea’s sadness as I stroked her face was overwhelming. I knew her grief was not because she had been murdered or because she knew there would be no legal justice for what happened to her. Cennea’s grief was for being taken from her children. Maybe it was also for what she knew they would have to bear.
This Mother’s Day I salute every parent/caregiver who is navigating seemingly impossible situations, doing everything they can with what they have to make things even a little better. TCTGSF will do its best to help, too.