HomeVoorhees NewsStaying the Course, by transforming challenges into opportunities

Staying the Course, by transforming challenges into opportunities

Lashaun Drew founded Staying the Course to inspire and motivate young women between the ages of 10 and 18 as they navigate life’s challenges.

Voorhees resident Lashaun Drew – the resilient founder of the nonprofit Staying the Course – overcame personal adversity to create a mission-driven organization whose programs help individuals overcome hardships and unlock their potential.

Her path to founding Staying the Course began with Drew’s own challenges as a young mother.

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“I had a full-ride scholarship to Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia,” she recalled. “I majored in bio-chem with a minor in criminology. Once I became pregnant, I was not able to continue going to school and had to leave. I was a brand new mother at the age of 20, and while I thought I had my life planned out, everything changed.

“At that age, I didn’t know Staying the Course would exist,” Drew added. “All I knew was that I owed it to myself and my son to do more with my life than what I saw others going through.”

The vision for Staying the Course was inspired by Drew’s daughter.

“As she was growing up, I noticed some of the challenges she faced as a young woman were similar in some ways to the challenges I faced, but it was a different era,” Drew explained. “I had always been in the community supporting and working with the youth. I wanted to be more intentional with my support.”

Staying the Course aims to inspire and motivate young women between the ages of 10 and 18 as they navigate life’s challenges. It does so through mentorship, counseling and community involvement. But starting a nonprofit comes with its own set of challenges, and for Drew, funding has been a significant hurdle. She recently completed a five-week grant writing class to help her apply for funding.

“From the inception of this program, we have not received any grants or consistent funding,” she acknowledged. “I am very thankful for those who have volunteered their time and resources, and for the one-time donations we’ve received from organizations supporting our Girl With a Grill program.”

Drew believes her nonprofit has had a tangible impact.

“Resiliency and empowerment are at the core of who we are,” she noted.

The logo for Staying the Course reflects life’s challenges: a windy road symbolizing that life is not a straight line, a pothole representing the times we fall, a speed bump for the moments we need to slow down and a hurdle signifying obstacles to overcome.

“If we stay the course,” Drew emphasized, “then we will make it to the other side, not only surviving but thriving.”

Drew shared one success story that involved a man living on the streets.

“Eight months ago, he told me that he used to be a poet and would like to write me a poem as his way of saying thank you,” she recounted. “We gave him pen and paper, and he proceeded to write one of the most beautiful poems I’ve read. It was so sincere, and he thanked us for showing him love and respect while we served him hot, fresh food with our Girl With a Grill program.”

Drew recently met the man again, and his gratitude was evident.

“At that moment,” she said, “he felt like he mattered.”

Among Staying the Course programs are the Strive and Thrive mentorship effort, counseling services, and skill-based restaurant training. Girl With a Grill provides free meals to the needy and has fed more than 8,000 people. Drew is also organizing a Small Business Showcase and Expo at the Town Center on Saturday, July 13.

As for those facing significant challenges, Drew offers this message:

“Every day, we wake up is a blessing and another opportunity to be better today than we were yesterday,” she said. “Life’s challenges teach us to be better versions of ourselves. Don’t be afraid to ask for help; no one can go through life alone. Surround yourself with others who speak life into you and learn to speak life into others despite your own challenges.

“Often, when we give, we receive some of the greatest blessings.”


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