Hard Work Pays Off


    Kimberly Nichols grew up in Conway with her mother, stepfather, two half-sisters and twin brothers. Her parents were employed at AmTran. It sounds like the beginning of a happy ending, but it wasn’t.

    Kimberly skipped school. She joined a gang, sold drugs and stole cars. She was arrested 10 times before she was 17, mostly for truancy and failing drug tests while on probation.

    She tempted fate by being the getaway driver for a group that robbed a KFC restaurant and was arrested. Her parents found out how she had been spending her time. “They said, ‘This is not my daughter’, but they stood by me,” Kimberly said.

    During her 18 months at Vera Lloyd, she was at school morning, afternoon and evenings. Her truancy made it almost impossible for her to graduate high school on time. She earned enough credits at Vera Lloyd to graduate only one semester behind her peers. She said, “Vera Lloyd changed my life for the very best.”

    Brenda and Nathaniel Burton, her house parents, were a big inspiration to her. “They said, ‘You’re almost 18. You better get to your best behavior.’ They knew my past, but believed I could be so much more. I worked up to their expectations,” Kimberly said.

    Today, Kimberly works three jobs to take care of her children. She is close to her family, is buying her own home and preparing to enroll in college. She has been dating her current boyfriend for two years—and her children love him.

    “I have bad memories that led to good things. I endured so much. One stumbling block after another,” she said. “I love my family and my life. I consider Vera Lloyd part of my family. They have a big place in my life.”

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