Tenisha Colbert lives in the large grey house that, every year for over 50 years, has been home to eight high-achieving young men selected to be scholars in the National Program for a Better Chance, an organization founded in 1963 to advance the opportunities of young men of color. She and her husband Antoine first ‘met’ the Winchester community when, at age 14, their son Jeremiah was selected by the Winchester program to become an ABC scholar here.
This was in 2017.
Looking back now, she speaks of the many opportunities that came to him in those years. “He had a great support team and wonderful Resident Directors who provided a family-like environment within the house to help engage and support the scholars and also served as primary conduit with the families back home.” Now, she and Antoine fulfill that role: “When the program found that they needed new Resident Directors, I felt that this would be the perfect opportunity for me to give back to Winchester ABC.” They applied for and won the position. “We are so happy to now be a part of this wonderful team to help support and take care of the scholars in the program, who come here as freshmen, knowing no one and living so far from home.” As welcoming as the students at the high school typically are, making the adjustment to life in a small suburban town is always a challenge.
Of the challenges that she herself has faced in life, Tenisha names the biggest one as “being seen not as the person I am but being judged by the color of my skin. My way of meeting and overcoming this challenge has been to show those who judge me that I am more than just a skin color, for we are all humans deserving of love and kindness.” She reflects that her involvement in helping the eight young men of Winchester ABC to succeed has tapped into other local resources, like the Network for Social Justice. “There is a need for multicultural awareness and education in this community,” she says, greater “cultural awareness” in this increasingly diverse town.
As far as identifying the chief role model for making her way in the world, Tenisha points to her mother. “My mother is, and always has been, my inspiration. She raised three kids by herself. She worked multiple jobs and many hours to make sure we had everything we needed. She taught us to always spread love and kindness. No matter what she was going through, she stayed strong and resilient through all the hard times we endured. Even in times when we were struggling, she opened her heart and her home to those in need. We didn’t have much but that didn’t stop her from sharing with people in need. My mother is an amazing woman, mother, sister, aunt and friend and I am proud every day to have been raised by such an incredible person.”