Laurel Curtis has a desire to make the lives of young people in her community better. About 15 years ago, she began to work for Youth Corrections. While working there, she spread her positive attitude and optimistic outlook on life. She accepted the young people as they were and always gave an ear to listen, which is a simple thing many of them need.
When she became a mother, Curtis decided to stay at home; however, her love for youth increased. As a mother of five, she still made it a priority to give of herself and her time to others. She stays very involved in the community and uses her skills to help others.
Curtis is very adept at budgeting and she uses that skill to help others. She takes the time to share with others ways to be resourceful. She teaches them to look at their total household expenses to see if there is anything they can cut back on. In addition to that, she plans dinner with menus; and that cuts costs. Curtis has taught various classes in the community that teaches others things she has learned, so they can benefit also. Though she was no longer an employee of Youth Corrections, she still worked there in a volunteer capacity. Youth Corrections has been able to call her for special events, and she has helped in any way she could.
A couple of years ago, Curtis began a program called “America’s Promise For Freedom.” This program would help the young women to become productive citizens. It was a result of Colin Powell’s speech and America’s Promise Program. She wanted to work within the scope of that program and help in her area. She contacted JC Penney and Ron Rhoades to get assistance. These two entities offered to help the young ladies with job interview skills as well as training. The ladies were allowed to pick an outfit to use on the interview. The clothing must be appropriate and approved by the JC Penney’s staff. Ron Rhoades donates the outfits to the youth to help them find employment. Many of the women apply at JC Penney.
In addition to the training and clothing, Curtis also contacted a photographer. They donate makeovers and free sittings for the class. When the young women are taught how to look professional and saw themselves in photos that way, it definitely increased their self-esteem. The women were also taught self-defense classes, as many of the women in the program are victims of abuse.
Curtis’ efforts do not stop there. The also teaches classes on how to cook nutritional meals as well as baking bread. She also contacted a theater in town to help her program. The theater allows the young women to come watch a play, and many of them have never had this experience; so that opened a door to another part of life for them. The women have also been able to attend gyms to learn how to work out and take care of their bodies, receive training about food disorders, and they experience volunteer service. The young women had projects in the community that helped them give back to those around them. The visit assisted living centers an elderly members of the community and give them companionship and pleasant company.