The kids have a nickname for Kendra Hayes, the new Program Manager at St. Vincent de Paul Louisville’s Family Success Center (FSC).
“They call me principal. That’s so funny,” said Hayes, a mother of two teenage daughters. “I guess they call me that because they see me handling and doing everything at the FSC.”
By starting just before summer programming and then promptly launching into SVDP’s after-school program, Hayes hasn’t had a lot of downtime.
“Kendra hit the ground running with summer and after-school programming, meeting vendors, making schedules, and managing her staff,” said Julio Anthony, SVDP’s Associate Director of Community Support. “With her background in youth development, she has been able to implement her own style of grace and purpose. The summer is typically the most demanding season, so she stepped up to the plate and picked up where I left off. We are blessed to have her.”
Hayes sees so much potential for the FSC to come alongside parents and students because the ripple effect of a strong family is a flourishing society.
“I just want the kids to feel like this is a place that they would want to come to,” Hayes added. “I’m stern with them, and I do have the whole mother tone and look … I was worried that they wouldn’t feel comfortable around me, but they give me a hug every day and say, ‘See you tomorrow.’”
Hayes is a native of Louisville’s West End and has worked at JCPS since 2013, mainly in a preferred substitute teacher role in special needs. She worked at Title I schools—which are schools with high numbers of children from low-income families where the state ensures they have equal opportunity for academic achievement—such as Central and Western High Schools, as well as Engelhard and King Elementary Schools.
She now picks up students at Engelhard Elementary for our after-school program Monday through Thursday.
“I want to create a safe zone for children,” she said. “I’m excited I can implement things that will come to life and make a difference in the kids’ lives.”
Hayes was planning on becoming a 4th grade teacher at a private school this upcoming school year, but found out about this position while working with Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) at the FSC site earlier this year.
“I just felt like this was the perfect fit and what I was looking for,” Hayes said. “Anything dealing with being creative, coming up with programs, and utilizing my ideas motivates me for this role.”
One of Hayes ideas is to start “Girls of Greatness,” which would focus on helping girls through the different stages of womanhood. She wants to influence students in the little things in hopes that she changes the trajectory of their lives.
“I’m not in our kids’ households, but I can evaluate and see how they act here to know what they may be around daily,” Hayes added. “Some of our kids might not know how to deal with this or deal with that, or how to act, or how to say ‘I’m sorry,’ or how to say ‘thank you,’ so there are certain things I feel like I can get them in the mindset of doing so that they grow over time.”