How Persistence is Reshaping Lives of Single Mothers in Nashville
Content Corner guest article. Learn more here.
By Courtney Keenan, Bank of America Community Relations Manager
As we celebrate and honor women in the month of March, I want to share one woman’s story of persistence that inspires me. I hope it will inspire you as well. “Persistence pays off” was a phrase I commonly heard but never understood the true meaning of until I met Quintina Waller.
Waller introduced herself to me a few years back at a “Meet the Funders” panel hosted by the Center for Nonprofit Management as she was in the process of getting her own nonprofit organization off the ground. After sitting down with her and learning more about her “why,” I was enthralled.
Waller founded Hope Station in 2014 as a physical and metaphorical “station of hope” for single, working mothers in Davidson and Rutherford Counties. These women are victims of the benefits cliff – trying to do right by their families and earn a living wage but making them overqualified for government assistance. Not being able to afford basic needs for their family, Hope Station walks alongside these women by helping with rent, utility, and other emergency assistance as requested.
Starting Hope Station was personal to Waller. In June 2013, Waller was on maternity leave after having her third child. She was paid for the first six weeks of her maternity leave but needed two additional weeks to secure childcare as a single mother. When she didn’t have the funds for the formula for her newborn son, she visited Tennessee’s Women, Infants, and Children office to receive the allotted free cans of formula. But when she got to the counter, she was told she earned too much money to qualify for the program. Waller left empty-handed.
The heartbreak she felt as a mother and the feeling she couldn’t provide for her family caused postpartum depression and suicidal thoughts to move in. When Waller returned home, she asked her daughter to watch her son so she could take a nap. However, she wasn’t planning on taking a nap. Waller planned to commit suicide. Thankfully, Waller says God spoke to her in those dark moments and encouraged her to start something new. Start something new she did. Since that day, Waller has been able to help change countless family trajectories in middle Tennessee. Last year alone, Hope Station served as a temporary crisis relief agency to assist 700 single mothers who experienced similar financial situations.
Her perseverance to help other mothers placed Waller right in my path. The first time we met, Waller boldly asked how to get her foot in the door of the middle Tennessee funding community.
Fast forward a couple of years, Hope Station has been able to benefit from Bank of America’s focus on investing in nonprofit organizations that work to build paths to better economic futures for our communities. Hope Station is an organization that truly exemplifies what economic mobility means for individuals and families.
Since our first meeting, Waller has grown a strong board, built a passionate team, and figured out how to become a known entity within the middle Tennessee nonprofit community. Hope Station’s continued success is a credit to Waller’s determination. That devotion includes her persistence to advocate for funding for Hope Station, her persistence to support single mothers in our community, and her persistence to take the mission placed upon her heart and grow it as large as she can. Waller represents what it means when we say, “persistence pays off,” and our community is better for it.