RAPID CITY, S.D. — Catholic Social Services in Rapid City is committed to strengthening families and communities, providing professional services to people of all faith in West River.
One of the programs used to help families is called “Uplifting Parents.” It works with single parent college students by providing financial assistance, as well as mentoring.
The requirement coordinator for “Uplifting Parents” is an Uplifted Parent, who got herself through college, landed a job, and is now furthering her education in graduate school.
Kaitlyn Johnson was born in Hosmer, South Dakota and joined the “Uplifting Parents” program in 2018 when she was going to school at Black Hills State University. She was having a hard time balancing work and school all while raising a son on her own.
The “Uplifting Parents” program provided Kaitlyn with a monthly stipend, as well as assigning her a mentor to help guide her along the way.
“I didn’t think that I would ever bond with my mentors or really get to know them that well,” Johnson said. “But I ended up really enjoying the program and staying in it because of the mentorship. I tell everybody how much they helped me the entire time I was in the program, I just made sure to tell the mentors how grateful I was; I told all my friends and family. I really felt like this was my second family.”
When Kaitlyn graduated from college, the Uplifting Parents program did not cut her off completely. In fact, her mentors stuck around and helped her find a job that was right for her.
“You don’t just graduate and get kicked out or finish the program,” Johnson said. “They still help you for a few months after graduation to kind of get you on your feet and make sure that you are stable and you know applying into the jobs that you are trying to get.”
Kaitlyn now works for Catholic Social Services as a Recruitment Coordinator for the “Uplifting Parents program. As a Recruitment Coordinator, she is able to help single parent college students who were in a similar situation as her.
“Without being a participant in this program, it would have been a lot more difficult and I honestly don’t think I would have graduated on time when I did,” Johnson said. “Once I became a participant, I really started getting good grades; I was making the Dean’s List just because I had that support system.”
The Uplifting Parents program is now accepting applications until October 3030 and are looking for 60 participants in the program.