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Girls Inc., surprises Riverdale student with scholarship

Photo by Jeylin White: Yaneries Perkins, 15, (center) and her mother, Gladys Perkins, were caught by surprise when Gabrielle Stewart (left), director of operations for Girls Inc., of Greater Atlanta, presented Yaneries swith a $2,500 scholarship. The award was presented during a Kinship Care Grandparents Raising Grandchildren meeting. 

Photo by Jeylin White: Yaneries Perkins, 15, (center) and her mother, Gladys Perkins, were caught by surprise when Gabrielle Stewart (left), director of operations for Girls Inc., of Greater Atlanta, presented Yaneries swith a $2,500 scholarship. The award was presented during a Kinship Care Grandparents Raising Grandchildren meeting. 

It was a day to remember for 15-year-old Yaneries Perkins.

The Riverdale High School student got the surprise of her life, Friday morning, when Gabrielle Stewart, director for Girls Inc., of Greater Atlanta, presented her with a $2,500 scholarship.

“I had no idea I was getting this award,” said an elated Perkins. “My ‘mom’ woke me up [Friday] morning and [told] me to wear something nice.”

The scholarship was presented during the regular monthly meeting of a group of grandparents who are raising their grandchildren. The meeting was taking place at the Kinship Care Resource Center in Jonesboro.

The Kinship Care Program, according to Angela Burda –– the organization’s resource coordinator –– is available only to grandparents, who are raising their grandchildren, and to other relatives who are caregivers in parent-absent homes.

Such households are sometimes referred to as Grandfamilies –– families headed by grandparents and other relatives, who share their homes with their grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and/or other related children. According to some national estimates, more than 6 million children across the country live in households maintained by grandparents or other relatives.

Stewart, of Girls Inc., said the scholarship given to Perkins was through the NSORO Educational Foundation, which was established through the vision and generosity of Darrell and Ena Mays, co-founders of NSORO, LLC, a telecommunications solutions company.

The scholarships the foundation provide help students purchase supplies and pay school fees. Stewart said, every year, Girls Inc., has a scholarship program known as, “Strong, Smart, and Bold,” and the NSORO Foundation supplies the funds. The foundation, she said, allows Girls Inc., to pick one girl in each category –– strong, smart, and bold.

This year, Stewart said, the foundation had extra funds, so her organization was able to pick two additional girls for $2,500 scholarships. “The girls had to be, either in the foster care system, or a part of the Kinship Care Program,” she said.

The apply, the young ladies had to write a 500-word essay on one of the following topics: Being Bold; Smart; or Strong. Stewart said Perkins’ essay stood out the most.

“The essay that she wrote, and the two pictures she sent, with quotes, is what really stood out to me,” said Stewart. “I couldn’t think of anyone who deserves it more.”

Perkins said she already has an idea of what she will do with her award –– save it for college. “I do plan on going to college,” she said, “so, right now, I just want to save.”

Perkins –– who will graduate from high school in two years –– said her dream is to attend Florida A& M University, in Tallahassee, Fla., and study criminal justice. “I like debating people,” she said with a smile.