Advancing on the Path | Project HOME

Advancing on the Path

  • Advancing on the Path
    Nancy Johns (front row, second from right) stands with other graduating members and alumni of Project HOME's College Access Program
“They helped me see myself differently. I learned how to be myself and be more mature.”

Nancy Jones’ excitement is infectious. You feel it immediately when you talk with her.

And she has reason to be excited. Tomorrow, she heads out to Erie, Pennsylvania—her first time she will live away from her North Philadelphia home—to begin her college career at Mercyhurst University.

When she was younger, college was not at all on her radar. She imagined finishing high school and getting some kind of basic job. It wasn’t until her neighborhood public high school was changed to a charter school run by Young Scholars that a fire was lit under her. “They got us thinking about college and about a career. That’s when my passion for higher education started.”

Another major factor in Nancy’s intellectual development was participating in the Teen Program at Project HOME’s Honickman Learning Center and Comcast Technology Labs. She was a regular at the Center throughout her entire high school career, getting involved in music production, the young entrepreneurial program, culinary arts, and the all-important College Access Program. Through her experience in the Teen Program, she began to understand that school was not just a pipeline toward an eventual job, but that education could be a way to nurture and develop her personal dreams.

For Nancy, that dream crystalized into one of fashion merchandising. And soon, Project HOME provided another amazing opportunity. In 2013, as a participant in our John and Sheila Connors Youth Employment Program, she landed a summer internship at our HOME Spun Resale Boutique.  She knew it was the perfect fit for her, and as the internship was coming to an end, she emailed Sister Mary Scullion and then-Boutique director Jenna Bryant, making her case for the job to continue.

"I was on vacation just before school started, and I got a call from Project HOME, telling me I had a permanent job at the Boutique. I was so hyped!”

For the next three years, Nancy was a fixture at HOME Spun, learning practical skills but also learning valuable life lessons. “I learned to be open to lots of other people and understand how they think,” she says. “They helped me see myself differently. I learned how to be myself and be more mature.” She counts as one of her blessings at Project HOME is how people encouraged her, believed in her, and “gave me hope in myself.”

 “Nancy is really dedicated and committed, a great team player,” says Britney Garrison, director of HOME Spun and Nancy’s supervisor. “I hope that she continues to make very good decision and keep the logical and well-mannered head on her shoulders as she makes her way through college.”

Anticipating the trip ahead of her, Nancy is excited. “Project HOME got me started on this path, now I want to finish.”

We’re excited, too, knowing the great path she will blaze in this world.