Personal & Community Resilience
Nalisha Henry knows that an individual’s resilience is often dependent on the network of support that surrounds them.
Like strong vines supporting vibrant blossoms, personal and community resilience have been entwined throughout Nalisha Henry’s life. Her mother was raising Nalisha and her two siblings alone when she went back to school to get an associate degree, creating a better future for herself and her children. Her individual strength was augmented by the public assistance that made it possible for the family to live on her part-time salary while she attended class.
While in high school, Nalisha participated in Furman University’s Bridges to a Brighter Future program, which helps students whose potential exceeds their circumstances find the right college, apply, enroll, and succeed through graduation. Nalisha says the program, which CFG has supported with grants through the years, prepared her well to get the most out of her time at Furman.
While there, she was grateful to be the recipient of the John I. Smith scholarship. Administered by the Community Foundation, the scholarship seeks to ease the financial burden of higher education for students residing in government-subsidized housing.
Nalisha, whose career since graduation has been dedicated to public service, says an individual’s resilience is often dependent on the network of support that surrounds them—family, friends, colleagues, and the broader community. It helps if people have a safety net, a system of resources they can get if they need them. Both in college and beyond, Nalisha has found the support she needed through her connections at Furman and throughout the Greenville community.
“Everyone needs a group of people you know you can call on—for advice, to connect you with people, champion you, and be an advocate,”
“Everyone needs a group of people you know you can call on—for advice, to connect you with people, champion you, and be an advocate,” she says. “There is a network of people in Greenville I know I can call and they will be there for me. That’s what made the difference in my journey, having a guidance counselor, a professor who went above and beyond, fellow professionals to give me advice about what it takes to graduate or navigate a career.”
Recently she and others at United Way, where she serves as Director of Community and Partner Relations, have been seeking to improve resilience for those they serve by focusing on programs that mitigate the effects of trauma in the lives of children and adults.
“Just one caring individual can make a difference in a child’s life,” she says. “One of the things we at United Way have been thoughtful about, both proactively and reactively, is making sure we’re able to support agencies and individuals who are being that caring adult in a child’s life.”
Nalisha hopes that Greenville’s existing culture of civic engagement and volunteerism will provide the resilience needed to navigate to and through the pandemic and protests, providing a foundation to move forward in ways that are better and stronger.
“In Greenville, people give their time and energy to help people that need it. This community comes together. People are rising up to the challenge, rallying together, and collaborating in ways we didn’t before.” she says. “Seeing that has been really refreshing. I hope we can keep the conversation around racial inequality going and take it to the broader community, so we don’t lose these growing pains and forget what we’ve learned, which is critical in moving forward and becoming a stronger community.”