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Your Stories Don’t Define You, How You Tell Them Will

Oct 9, 2018

Shiquita Yarbrough is a single mom, which isn’t too unusual these days. What makes her really special is her incredibly generous spirit, and commitment to not only being a positive and active community member, she’s committed to helping her children see the importance of being a productive and kind member of your community.

After her divorce, she decided to start over again with her three youngest children, the oldest was in college. She researched parts of the US, knew generally what she wanted in a community, and landed in Austin, Texas. It’s not easy to start over, especially with three young children and a full time job. Shiquita found herself immediately welcomed into that community, which if you’ve met her wouldn’t surprise you.

Neighbors, teachers, parents of friends all saw what she was trying to do with her children - getting them involved in the community through sports - and started to offer help with rides to and from activities. As the Christmas season was in view, she thought hard about how to demonstrate her appreciation for all the people who were helping her. Gifts seemed not quite personal enough, especially because she simply didn’t have a lot of money to spend.

But she loves to cook, and people love to eat what she cooks, so she talked it over with her children and they all agreed to host a Giving Thanks dinner the night before Thanksgiving. This would give the family an opportunity to show their appreciation, while leaving the traditional holiday for them to spend the way they choose. That first year her children invited a few friends, teachers, and parents of friends, a relatively small group. But by the last year they were in Austin, it had grown to over 40.

Shiquita’s family Giving Thanks dinner became an important and well-loved tradition, offering all kinds of lessons for her children and her community. Because when you feed people like Shiquita feeds people, you’re not only filling their bellies, you’re nurturing their souls.

She exudes warmth and generosity of spirit, and I was lucky enough to meet her at the Atlanta airport when we were both on our way home.