Support leads to success stories

It’s always nice to read an inspiring story, and in last week’s Cabinet, there was the tale of Olivia Smith, who graduated last week from Souhegan High School, and how she overcame the early tough times in her life to rise to college acceptance.

Here’s the crux as we reported and that Smith and her grandmother told us:

Through most of her life, she was plagued by anxiety so severe, it would send her running out of the classroom, and medication didn’t always work. Eventually, she realized how worried and distraught her problems were making her grandparents, who had obtained custody of her when she was about 8 and have been caring for her since she was a baby.

So she changed. She began to meditate, she started to use breathing to center herself, she braided locks into her hair.

“I found my style,” she told The Cabinet.

She sure did, to the point where in the fall, she will enter Keene State College, something she once thought impossible.

Smith didn’t make her brave fight alone. Her grandparents – Bev Smith-Gaulin and Bob Gaulin – stood with her for years, her English teacher Frank Gallo pushed her to apply to Keene State and her school social worker, Sheelu Joshi Flegal, made herself available to Olivia every day. They all had faith, and that helped her to find herself.

There are two lessons here:

Don’t count anyone out, and especially don’t count yourself out. Yes, a kid’s life can be tough, often for reasons having nothing to do with him or her directly, but most of the kids are sturdier than they think, tougher than they give themselves credit for. Olivia Smith found that out.

And adults, reach out, especially to your family. What might have happened to Olivia Smith had it not been for her supportive grandparents? Thankfully, we’ll never know. They jumped in and helped her get through the tough years.

And teachers, you can often be the key to helping a young person find the way, as did Frank Gallo. What would Olivia Smith have done after high school had he not pushed her toward Keene State?

There are many Olivia Smiths out there who don’t have Bevs and Bobs and Franks willing to extend a hand.

Perhaps you could.