Leonard Buckner was six years old when his family came to Rowan Homes. His mother, Tanya, and her three children —Tanisha, Leonard, and Latanya—were among the first families to move into Project HOME’s residence for families in the St. Elizabeth’s neighborhood of Philadelphia. “She was excited to have a place to call our home,” Leonard remembers, “and the apartments were beautiful—bigger than some houses.”
A few years later, the Honickman Learning Center and Comcast Technology Labs (HLCCTL) opened its doors right across the street. At age 13, Leonard began dropping in after school to take his first class in technology and video.
In high school, Leonard joined Project HOME’s College Access Program (CAP). The program requires participants to take classes in digital literacy as well as preparing them for the college environment, including college selection, what to expect in college, and managing a syllabus.
Leonard’s hard work landed him at Bloomsburg University. When he struggled in that first semester, he called Tomika Brown, director of CAP. “She showed me tough love—where I messed up, and what I needed to do to turn things around. With so many people in my corner, I had to pick up the pace. I couldn’t let them down.”
Leonard studied accounting and marketing. During summers, he took advantage of Project HOME’s internship program, getting on-the-job experience by working 35 hours per week in our accounting office at JBJ Soul Homes. “The accounting staff is awesome. They not only helped me with my tasks, but talked me through things I needed to know and credentials I needed.” This summer, he is there once again, and next year, he will graduate with a degree in business.
Leonard’s experience with Project HOME was about more than learning practical skills. “I want to work with an organization that values the community, families, and kids, and helps people who are less fortunate. My family has been blessed to be part of Project HOME, which has helped us achieve things we could not have.”
Now Tanya, Leonard’s mother, can celebrate 15 years in recovery and three children who are college graduates or on track to be. “Project HOME’s presence in our community is changing everything,” Leonard observes. “More people are buying into the idea that education is a must adults as well as kids. Education is now a part of our thinking.”
In many ways, Leonard is the face of Project HOME’s next generation. He and his peers are testimony that the right support at critical times can help transform not only individual lives, but a whole community.