50 Stories for 50 Years: Bella Helton
In 2016, Bella Helton enrolled in the Adult Education program here at United Ministries. She was so determined to get her GED and very willing to do the work required to achieve it. Bella achieved her GED in 2019, and during that time endeared herself to all of the staff with her commitment, enthusiasm, hard work, and kindness. Her goal is to become a nurse, and she immediately enrolled at Greenville Tech.
Bella’s story will tell you everything about the remarkable person that she is. She lived with her great grandparents when she was growing up because her mother was addicted to drugs and mentally abused her. Her mother took her to so many schools in the third grade that she was placed in a self-contained program, and she got very behind in her schoolwork.
Living with her great grandparents was also a hard situation. Her grandfather had dementia, and Bella helped her great grandmother care for him. Her grandmother did the best that she could and helped Bella with her homework and taught her how to take care of herself in life. However, Bella really had to learn responsibility and how to grow up herself. She did learn a wonderful understanding about people from her grandmother and that was the importance of caring about others. Bella lives that understanding in her life every day.
In elementary and middle school Bella had many teachers who cared about her, and she learned much from them. High school, though, was a terrible experience for her. The mental abuse from her mother continued, and she also was in an abusive relationship with her boyfriend. She had to get a restraining order because he constantly threatened that he would come to her home to abuse her when her grandmother wasn’t there. She was always afraid and anxious and began overdosing on drugs and abusing herself.
As a result of all of the abuse, she was admitted to a mental hospital for therapy and received homebound instruction for the rest of the year. In the meantime, her boyfriend went to jail, and this was a tremendous relief to her. In her senior year, she completed a CNA program and graduated from high school with an occupational diploma. Bella’s great grandmother, who had so worried that she would not live to see Bella grow up, was able to see her graduate before she, very sadly, passed away. Bella was seventeen.
Her fear and anxiety that she’d experienced in the abusive relationships with her mother and boyfriend continued. She would still have physical altercations with her mother. Bella, however, was determined to now find her first job. She was hired as a CNA in a rehabilitation center, and immediately found that nursing was what she wanted to do in her life. She loved the patients and residents and worked very hard to care for them.
At this time in her life she met a fine young man with the ambition to be an aviation technician, and they were soon committed to each other. She continued, however, to want to have her GED and a nursing career in her life. Bella finally found our GED program at United Ministries and was an outstanding student working very hard with such determination and always caring about other students and volunteers. It was a joy and an inspiration to work with Bella, and we were all so proud of her and happy for her when she graduated. It was sad, however, to see her leave!
Bella is now in college, and her goal is to complete her BSN and master’s degree. She definitely has the determination to accomplish all of this in her life. She also talks about the wonderful experience that she had working in our GED program with volunteers and staff members and sharing the experience with fellow students. Hamp and Judy, two of our outstanding volunteers, were there to help her and to provide motivation when she was struggling with math. And, in addition to her academic successes, she learned so much about herself and about life. She began to recover from the emotional trauma in her life and to develop trust again. She says that “Tough times go away, but tough people don’t”, and she lives that every day also. She shares an understanding that goals can be achieved through hard work and determination. She wanted a better life for herself and her son, and she is making this happen because of the person that she is and all that she has learned. She’s now going to be the one who will be there for so many who are also struggling in their lives and will need her.