James Ward is a freshman at Howard University. He is on track to become a physicist. He also used to be homeless.
James’ mom, Sherell, raised three kids as a single mom who suffered from alcoholism. Growing up, the family hadn’t ever had a stable home until they moved into the Union Rescue Mission when James was 17. That year, James got a mentor in Jessica Sutherland who also used to be homeless.
Jessica volunteered at the mission to show that, even if you start out homeless, you can go on to great things and be successful. When she started, she asked the kids what the hardest thing about living at the mission was. She revealed that most kids said things like the food or not having a room of their own. James said he was worried that living at the mission would impact his time management skills. She knew right then and there that this was one driven individual. She took him under her wing and promised him that he would go to college and that she’d always be there for him.
James applied to 14 schools and was accepted into Howard University. The problem was that he could not afford the tuition, and many of his loans were denied. Jessica worried that she wouldn’t be able to keep her promise to James. However, she soon came up with an idea.
She started a Tumblr blog using James’ image, with his permission. The hashtag said #HomelesstoHoward, and was labeled with the words “See the Potential.” Within eight hours, people had donated $2,075 on Paypal. In a week, that number rose to $13,687.07.
Jessica says there is something about James that touches people, and they want to help him. James says that he is so grateful for all the people who donated so he could go to college.
We expect great things from him in the future.
Check out Ward and Sutherland’s interview on the Ellen show: