CINCINNATI — One Cincinnati mother lost everything – including the roof over her head – but she found help that put her back on a path of success. Now, she’s paying it forward by helping others.
The zip of backpacks being filled with school supplies brings a smile to Katt Wallace’s face, knowing each one might bring a smile to a child in need.
“I feel like I’m getting my kids ready all over again, but I’m actually helping someone else’s children get ready for school,” she said.
By volunteering at Project Connect, which serves CPS students and families experiencing homelessness, Katt found a way to give back to others who found themselves in the situation she once faced. In 2018, a serious mold situation in her apartment left she and her youngest child with no place to go at a time when resources were tight.
“You know when they say you’re between a rock and a hard place, I was stuck between a rock and a boulder and I had this chisel but it was so little,” Wallace said.
Past experience led her to Project Connect to cover school costs for her son.
“I wanted him not to go to school looking like we had nowhere to go,” Wallace said.
Project Connect program manager Rebeka Beach was ready to help with that and more.
“We know when children don’t have a stable roof over their head it’s hard to learn,” she said.
Wallace said Beach worked hard to find resources – knowing what helps the mother helps the child. And once she got back on her feet, it was time to return the favor.
“She said she wanted to give back to us and that had never happened before,” Beach said.
While volunteering, Wallace connected with another mom in need who just happened to also be an old friend. Michelle English lost her place to live after being hit by health issues. She and her kids are living in a hotel room she can’t afford anymore.
“It’s a struggle for me and my family right now,” she said.
English, who got clothing, supplies and shoes for her family, wasn’t surprised to hear that Wallace was behind some of the good work.
“Where you came from to now, you’re able to help and give back but you came from that struggle a lot,” English said. “I’m proud of her.”
Project Connect served roughly 3,500 Cincinnati Public Schools students experiencing homelessness in 2020, and has been around for nearly 40 years.