Raising the Standard – Etta’s Story

We first met Etta through her two great grandchildren, Marcus (6th grade) and Ja’shawn (4th grade). Etta enrolled the boys in our STARS afterschool program through Lagonda Elementary in 2021. STARS Director, Heather Bielawski, soon learned that
both boys were full of enthusiasm and determination but also had trouble staying focused as they were battling ADHD. Heather also soon found out that they were both being raised by their great grandmother, Etta.

Etta Turner, a 77-year-old lifelong Springfield citizen, recently sat down with me to share her story. Etta grew up on the corner of North and Water Street, where she attended Northern Elementary located on College Ave.

“Growing up we had our challenges but the main thing that formed me was my faith and great sense of community. All around us we had family and neighbors that all looked out for and prayed for each other. We had the Miller Rice Youth Center across the street that we went to all the time, and everyone kept an eye out for one another. If one of us kids were to get out of line, it definitely wouldn’t go unnoticed! We didn’t have much but what we did have was connection. Everyone did what they could to help
their neighbor.”

“The main difference I see now in our community compared to when I grew up is that there are many more options now, but far less connection. Everyone sort of keeps to themselves and that sense of community is not the same. There is a real lack of balance for our youth. The no cost opportunities SCYM provides, like the STARS program, are exactly what our community needs more of. The work of this mission has made a real difference for Marcus and Ja’shawn. The environment there is so peaceful and motivating. The boys are starting to understand the value of seeing things through to completion and not giving up when things get difficult.”

Etta also raises the “banner of love” where she now resides on Sherman Ave. Etta’s door is always open to her neighbors. The children from surrounding households enjoy spending time at her place where she welcomes them and does her best to instill in them her values of faith and respect. Etta has held football clinics in her front yard, as well as her annual “back to school bash” where she sees to it that all the children who show up are ready and inspired for the upcoming school year.

“God has already set a precedence for every situation. My blessing is to seek Him and share the lessons I’ve learned with next generation. It’s a joy to see how God will work through you no matter what your age is.”

Etta Turner epitomizes our theme of “Raising the Standard.” Etta is truly one of a kind, and yet there are numerous others like her in Springfield. People who are selflessly answering God’s call to do what’s right by their family and community. SCYM exists to wrap around these families and lend the support and opportunities they need to be all God created them to be.

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