“You measure the size of the accomplishment by the obstacles you had to overcome to reach your goals!” —Booker T. Washington.
This quote couldn’t be more appropriate for setting up today’s guest. Our spotlight is on someone who is a GED recipient, has been awarded multiple scholarships and accolades, has worked in the medical field, is currently married to an awesome man, and runs a popular local business. Now, you might be thinking to yourself, “well, those things are nice, but they’re not necessarily Earth-shattering achievements.” To that, I (Anthony Crosby) would encourage you to reread Mr. Washington’s quote. As you’ll soon read, relative to the size of the obstacles our guest had to overcome to achieve them, I would say those goals are quite impressive, indeed.
This week, we’re joined by April Harwart of Nevada I.T. a business which she runs alongside her husband, Donald. We will be talking more about Nevada I.T. in the next AAT article; however, today, we will hear April’s story up until the point when she met and married Donald and started the business. I decided to structure April’s features this way because I believe her powerful, emotional story is something that can encourage many in our community and should not be rushed.
April, thank you for joining us this week; please take us through all you had to endure to get where you are today.
“My earliest memory is of me waking up next to my baby brother, and he was blue. My pillow had fallen off the couch, and I thought I had killed him. My mom had just had a hysterectomy, so she was breastfeeding with narcotics in her system. They did take her in for questioning, after that, so I was taken into social services; however, they determined that he actually died from SIDS. I remember thinking for the longest time that I had killed my brother.”
“I also had an older sister with cancer; she had a Wilms tumor. My dad lost his business because of having to deal with all of it; he was a carpet layer. Both of my parents ended up using drugs after that, so there was much abuse for many years.”
“After a while, my parents split up. I went with my mom and one of my other brothers; we were homeless while my mom was still using hard drugs. When I was about thirteen or fourteen, I chose to find my sister. She was a year older than me; she had left with an older man and got married. I hitchhiked to Reno (where she lived) to look for her. For a while, I was homeless, sleeping behind dumpsters, but I finally found her.”
“My brother’s friend had an older brother; I met him, and I got pregnant with my son when I was fifteen. I went into Reno High School and told the principal that I was pregnant. He told me to get off the property because there were “places for people like me.” I never got to go to high school.”
“I got a job at The Riverboat Hotel and Casino in Reno. I would walk to work and make just enough to pay rent and have forty dollars for groceries afterward. I’d buy food for my son, and sometimes I wouldn’t eat, all while my ex was out doing drugs. I left him after my daughter was born because his abuse kept getting worse and worse.”
“I started working at a Wal-Mart in the tire and lube department. That’s where I met my second husband. I then got pregnant with my second and third daughters. He was a good man, in the beginning, but he lost his job and started using and cooking drugs; I chose not to do any of that. However, I stood by him for a while, but he was eventually sent to prison. I was now a single mom, with four kids, digging through dumpsters to feed them.”
“I worked really hard to get us into housing, and I started going back to school as I had always wanted to do. I wanted that GED! I went to TMCC (Truckee Meadows Community College) to take my tests. I passed my GED test, but I never got my certificate. I eventually found out that it was because I was on a protected list from dealing with my ex-husband being sent to prison. I went down to the office and told them I wanted that piece of paper; I worked too hard and had been through too much not to have it! The dean of students came down with several secretaries, and they all started clapping for me; I had gotten a perfect score! My entire life I was told that I was stupid and wasn’t good enough, so to get a perfect score blew my mind! I proved to myself that I was good enough.”
“I started working in nursing and then got into a radiology program. I was the fastest to get in the program, and I graduated with honors; nobody else in my program graduated with honors, or even had kids for that matter!”
We will continue April’s story in the next publication of AAT where we’ll see what happened after April graduated from the radiology program, how she met her husband, and how they came to start their technology business.
After reflecting on everything you just shared, is there anything you would like to say to our readers, April? What do you want our community to know after learning your testimony?
“I have struggled with PTSD all of my life as a result of all the trauma I have experienced. Going to college, working hard, and seeking out supportive professional resources have been a real sense of therapy for me, and God has pulled me through. My depression and self-doubt didn’t stop me, but I had to prove myself wrong in many ways. This is why I want to do everything I can to help people in our community, not to make a bunch of money from it, but because I have been where many of them are. Some people think if you have a mental illness or a traumatic past that you’re broken or that there’s something wrong with you, but that’s the furthest from the truth. People are not trash; you don’t just throw them away.”
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See you around, Elko!