Editor’s note: Step Up For Students, which administers Florida’s tax credit scholarship program for low-income students (and co-hosts this blog), periodically profiles students who benefit from the program. Here is a recent profile.
Imagine coming home to discover your house was foreclosed on.
Beverly Gilbert doesn’t have to imagine. That was the reality she faced in April 2011.
She came home with her two sons, Ulysees III and Uriah, before a football practice to find a foreclosed sign in the yard of her house in Ocala. Since she wasn’t the person responsible for handling all of the household finances, she was unaware this was in the works.
“That was a real shock,” Beverly said.
Family belongings had been moved out of the house and into the yard. As a result, Beverly and her two children moved elsewhere in Ocala.
That year continued to be a rollercoaster ride.
In the summer of 2011, Beverly was diagnosed with breast cancer. She underwent a mastectomy on her left side that fall, and is now cancer-free. The day after Beverly’s surgery, her youngest son Uriah, underwent his own surgery. Years before, he had crashed into an oak tree while driving a four-wheeler. He fractured his head and broke his nose, requiring intensive care. He recovered, but needed surgery in 2011 to remove some debris from the incident embedded under his chin.
Changes continued for the Gilbert family as Beverly formally separated from her husband that September.
The only positive thing in her eldest son, Ulysees’ life, at the time, was his experience at Trinity Catholic High in Ocala which lent some stability during a very unpredictable chapter in his life. He was enrolled in the ninth grade and played football. He would take his little brother to games and practices. He made new friends there.
Because of the separation, Beverly, a second grade teacher in the public school system, was now confronted with how to pay for Ulysees’ education. She was able to work with the school to keep him enrolled.
“Trinity bent over backward to make it easy for him to stay there,” his mother said.
But she now was left with figuring out how to pay for Uriah’s tuition. She called herself the “New Poor in America,” meaning someone who works every day and has a decent job but can’t afford anything, such as a new car or replacement car parts.
She had applied for the Step Up school choice scholarship for Ulysees in the past, but said she was denied because her household income exceeded the qualifying guidelines. Ulysees completed 8th grade in public school and enrolled into Trinity for ninth grade, in the 2011-12 school year.
She decided to apply again for Step Up, but this time for Uriah. And she was met with success. Continue Reading →