My name is Ashley Wilbur, and I'm a former Bethlehem Center student. For the past 14 years, my life has been greatly impacted by the Bethlehem center. In the summer of 1994, I started my journey as a participant in the summer program, where 6 weeks of my life was placed into the hands of the most dedicated and caring individuals I had ever met. They not only made sure my summer vacation wasn't boring, but they enriched every area of my life, especially spiritually, academically and athletically. I went from being a participant in the summer and the after-school programs to become a group counselor. It was an awesome experience working along side of the same people that motivated me to continue coming year after year.
Being on the other side of the fence was different. When I was just a student in the camp, I was unaware of the things that went on behind the scenes until I stepped on the other side of the fence. It allowed me to see leadership in another light, in terms of the challenges of reaching the unreachable and the feeling from greater victories of knowing you've inspired someone in some way. Through those experiences, I learned how to be an effective leader, how to build meaningful and lasting relationships, and most importantly, how to give back to my community.
The Bethlehem Center became family to me. They were supportive when my mother passed away while I was a freshmen in high school. The support wasn't just financially but emotionally. They made sure I had everything I needed when I went off to college and remained in contact with me. If I needed money for books, they were there. If I needed someone to talk to, someone was always there.
May of 2008, I graduated from Fisk University with a BA in English and returned home to another summer at the Beth. It's funny now
that I look back over the caterpillar stages of my life, how I spawned into my cocoon and how I finally broke out of it, appearing as a beautiful butterfly. I've gone through struggles, failures and victories; and, from it all, I've learned that we shouldn't place our focus on the process that we're going through but on the product that the process is producing.
I had no idea that all those years of trails and challenges would bring me to where I am today. I am appreciative of everything the Bethlehem Center has done for me. I now serve my community as an English teacher and coach at my Alma mater, Howard High School. I look in the faces of my students and see a little of me in every one of them and remember how the people at the Beth never gave up on me or everybody else. I show that same attention to the bright minds that occupy my desks everyday. I must say that the time the Beth spent molding me was well spent. I'm pretty sure that if you would ask around, there are plenty more Bethlehem butterflies fluttering their wings in this world.